Julia Sporsén makes "gripping" debut as Káťa Kabanová

22 July 2017

Swedish soprano Julia Sporsén has returned to Opera Holland Park to make her debut in the title role of Káťa Kabanová. Reviewers have been praising the "dramatic intensity" paired with the "empassioned and lyrical" singing of her "searing performance":

"Julia Sporsen rends the heart with her searing singing of the adulterous (in thought) heroine.
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times

“I can confirm that it’s still almost unbearably moving, with (again) a spot-on cast from which it feels unfair to single out Julia Sporsen as a luminous, painfully human Katya.” Richard Bratby, The Spectator

“From among the strong cast Julia Sporsén stands out in the title role, revealing a soprano whose fullness is matched by equally high levels of sensitivity and feeling.”
Sam Smith, musicOMH, 4 stars

“Julia Sporsén is gripping in the title role... [She] is secure and sings with a real dramatic intensity. For the love music with Boris, she produces a completely different tone, soft, round and utterly endearing.”
Gavin Dixon, Artsdesk, 4 stars

“It's soprano Julia Sporsén who takes us with her into the vortex of Kát'a's personal hell. Trapped in a life of abuse at the hands of her husband and stepmother, the love and consolation of her life now lost to her, this emotionally naked singer - who showed in ENO's Duchess of Malfi and Giulietta the extent of her dramatic range and courage - draws us in to share the harrowed woman's fate. It is a searing performance.”
Mark Valencia, Whats On Stage, 5 stars

“Olivia Fuchs’s 2009 production makes a welcome return, with Julia Sporsén searing in the title role.”
Clare Colvin, Express, 4 stars 

“Kát’a’s torment in the second act was one of her finest moments; we feel her conundrum viscerally. Swedish soprano Julia Sporsén, previously a Micaëla, a Gilda and a Nedda for OHP, was fully involved in her tragic part right from the start making her demise all the more harrowing.”
Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International

“Intense and bird-like, the images of flight which come into Janacek's libretto seemed to imbue Sporsen's movements and she was very much like a wounded bird. Nervous yet intense and vividly alive even when constrained not to move, this was a remarkable performance which grew throughout the evening. Sporsen has been singing lyric roles (Violetta, Pamina, Micaela, Gilda) and gave a lovely fluid account of the role, but her voice had just the right amount of spinto ping to it, giving just the right amount of power. … And of course, the glorious double duet which concludes Act Two, where the tense and nervous start of Kat'a and Boris' duet showed Sporsen and Hoare at their intense best, expanding into a gorgeous lyricism whose over intensity boded no good for the relationship. In the final scenes, this lyricism veered into neurosis and Sporsen's solo was profoundly moving.”
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 4.5 stars 

“In Kát’a’s monologue with Varvara, Sporsén convincingly suggested the nascent hysteria within Kát’a’ as she realises that her only hope is to prevent Tichon’s departure. And, in the double love scene in Act 2, her melodic lines swelled with limitless emotion, as if simply by singing without cease her revelation and love could be made to last forever.”
Claire Seymour, Opera Today

Julia Sporsén rises to the occasion in her portrayal of Janáček’s fatally imaginative, innocent and big-hearted anti-heroine. She is a fine actor who sings Janáček’s speech-inflected vocal lines with electrifying fluency, and she conveys the character’s strength and vulnerability with focused verismo.” 
Peter Reed, Classical Source, 4 stars

“Swedish soprano Julia Sporsén, empassioned and lyrical in the title role.” 
Claudia Pritchard, Culture Wisperer, 4 stars

“The stage pictures show us the Volga and the circumscribed, prison-like emotional world of Julia Sporsen’s desperately vulnerable Katya, locked into a loveless marriage with cowardly drunk Tichon … and mercilessly bullied by Anne Mason’s vindictive Kabanicha – opera’s mother-in-law from hell. … [This] is an exemplary cast.”   
George Hall, The Stage, 4 stars

Performances run until 28 July 2017.

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