Stage Door News

Toronto: VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert presents Janáček’s “Katya Kabanová” December 1, 2019

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We all know the stories of young geniuses who became stars as teenagers. Think Mozart at age 14 with Mitridate, or Mendelssohn’s brilliant Octet when he was 16. And then there’s that nice Canadian boy, Justin Bieber, who soared into the stratosphere when he was only 15! Youth will be served but our opera houses and concert halls are filled with fans of Brahms, Verdi and Janáček, geniuses who reached the peak of their creative powers when they were adults.

Leoš Janáček, was 65 when he wrote Katya Kabanová and VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert presents what we believe to be the local premiere of this masterpiece. The great Czech composer went on to write two other works but neither one has the emotional punch of Katya Kabanová. The young lovers, Katya and Boris, are doomed by society’s unbending traditions and their tragedy is heartbreaking. 

Some observers saw an echo of the plot in Janáček’s own personal love life. At the time he wrote Katya Kabanová, he was smitten with a much younger married woman, Kamila Stösslová. Though his passion was great – see his over 700 letters to his beloved – it was unreciprocated and may have contributed to his bleak world view.

Don’t miss this one chance to experience the longing and searing passion of young love as seen through the prism of age. 

We welcome Armenian-Canadian soprano Lynn Isnar to our stage as Janáček’s heroine Katya. Lynn is a graduate of the Glenn Gould School and has been heard in VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert’s Kovanschina. Most recently, she appeared in a tribute to the Armenian composer Komitas with Russell Braun, the Amici Ensemble and the Elmer Iseler Singers. Starring in La Cecchina by Piccinni, Joseph So of Ludwig van Toronto hailed her for ‘meeting the challenge with some impossible coloratura.’

Michael Barrett and Cian Horrobin are both tenors and in Janáček’s opera, they are both in love with Katya. Most of the time, composers have a tenor and baritone fighting it out for the lady’s favour but Janáček chooses tenors, though each with a particular sound. Michael, who was last seen in our performance of Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, revels in roles of a more dramatic nature while Cian can be very amusing as Alfred in Die Fledermaus or romantic in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette. Tenordom aside, they are both exciting performers and Janáček’s drama is sure to be an inspiration to them both. 



Based on The Thunderstorm by Russian playwright Ostrovsky, the opera shines a lyrical light on the harshness of society's unbending traditions, and the coarse and repressive middle-class values that ultimately lead to tragedy.

For tickets, visit

Photo: Lynn Isnar.