But here he found the great themes of love, duty and conflict that runs through so many lives. Katya Kabanova is one of the greatest of his operas, which came at the height of his long career, and typically it centres on a young woman who is stifled by both her marriage and the watchful society in which she lives.
In this promising new production at the Royal Opera House, the American soprano Amanda Majeski makes her Covent Garden debut in the title role, with Czech tenor Pavel Cernoch, also making his ROH debut, as Boris, the man to whom she is drawn when her hopeless husband Tichon (Andrew Staples) is called away to rescue the family business.
Audience favourite mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley sings Katya's unsympathetic mother-in-law.
Directing is Richard Jones, who always makes his mark. His highly successful production of La Bohème was revived in the summer.
Katya Kabanova was inspired by Alexander Ostrovsky's play The Storm, which cast a critical eye over Russia's merchant class and its chauvinism. The storm of the title is both a metaphor for the tensions that wait to be unleashed with powerful effect, and a literal storm, terrifyingly depicted in music in Act III. Throughout the pulsating and translucent score the music churns with passion.
Former music director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera and English National Opera, Edward Gardner, conducts the orchestra and chorus of the Royal Opera House.
With its prestige production team and cast, this perceptive and alarming drama in music promises to be a highlight of the Royal Opera year.
Katya Kabanova is sung in Czech with English surtitles. There is no interval. Booking opens at 9AM on 31 October.
|What||Katya Kabanova, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
04 Feb 19 – 26 Feb 19, six performances, no interval
|Price||£6 - £125|
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|