Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Santa Fe’s Celebratory Jester

Santa Fe Opera noted a landmark two-thousandth performance in their distinguished history with a stylish new production of Rigoletto.

Sibelius Kullervo, BBC Proms, London

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn't allow it to be heard after its initial performance, though he referred to it fondly in private.

Aïda at Aspen

Most opera professionals, including the individuals who do the casting for major houses, despair of finding performers who can match historical standards of singing in operas such as Aïda. Yet a concert performance in Aspen gives a glimmer of hope. It was led by four younger singers who may be part of the future of Verdi singing in America and the world.

Prom 53: Shostakovich — Orango

One might have been forgiven for thinking that both biology and chronology had gone askew at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday evening.

Written on Skin at Lincoln Center

Three years ago I made what may have been my single worst decision in a half century of attending opera. I wasn’t paying close attention when some conference organizers in Aix-en-Provence offered me two tickets to the premiere of a new opera. I opted instead for what seemed like a sure thing: William Christie conducting some Charpentier.

Pesaro’s Rossini Festival 2015

The 36th Rossini Opera Festival in Rossini’s Pesaro! La gazza ladra (1817), La gazzetta (1816) and L'inganno felice (1812) — the little opera that made Rossini famous.

Santa Fe: Placid Princess of Judea

Unlike the brush fire in a distant neighborhood of the John Crosby Theatre, Santa Fe Opera’s Salome stubbornly failed to ignite.

Airy and Bucolic Glimmerglass Flute

As part of a concerted effort to incorporate local color and resonance into its annual festival, Glimmerglass has re-imagined The Magic Flute in a transformative woodland setting.

Glimmerglass Conquers Cato

Bravura singing and vibrant instrumental playing were on ample display in Glimmerglass Festival’s riveting Cato in Utica.

Energetic Glimmerglass Candide

Bernstein’s Candide seems to have more performance versions than Tales of Hoffmann.

Die Eroberung von Mexico in Salzburg

That’s The Conquest of Mexico, an historical music drama composed in 1991 by German composer Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952). But wait. Wolfgang Rihm construed a few sentences of Artaud’s La Conquête du Mexique (1932) mixed up with bits of Aztec chant and bits of poem(s) by Mexico’s Octavio Paz (d. 1998) to make a libretto.

Scottish Sensation at Glimmerglass

Glimmerglass is celebrating its 40th Festival season with a stylish new production of Verdi’s Macbeth.

Norma in Salzburg

This Salzburg Norma is not new news. This superb production was first seen at the Salzburg Festival’s springtime Whitsun Festival in 2013 with this same cast. It will now travel to a few major European cities.

The power of music: a young cast in a semi-stage account of Monteverdi’s first opera

John Eliot Gardiner conducted a much anticipated performance of Monteverdi’s first opera L’Orfeo at the BBC Proms on 4 August 2015, with his own Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

Cold Mountain Wows Audience at Santa Fe World Premiere

On August 1, 2015, Santa Fe Opera presented the world premiere of Cold Mountain, a brand new opera composed by Pulizer Prize and Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon.

Review: You Promised Me Everything

Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.

Manon Lescaut, Munich

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Leoš Janáček [Source: Wikipedia]
12 Aug 2012

The Makropulos Case at Edinburgh International Festival

The Edinburgh International Festival, in partnership with Opera North, presented Janáček’s The Makropulos Case at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

Leoš Janáček: The Makropulos Case

Vitek: Mark le Broq, Albert Grego: Paul Nilon, Kristina: Stephanie Korley, Dr Kolenaty: James Cresswel, Emila Marty (E.M.): Yiva Kihlberg, Baron Prus: Robert Hayward, Cleaner: Sarah Pring, Technician: Matthew Hargreaves, Janek Prus : Adrian Dwyer, Count Hauk-Sendorf: Nigel Robson, Chambermaid: Rebecca Afonwy-Jones. Other roles: Stephen Briggs, Gabriel Keogh, Ricky Morrell, Jeremy Peaker, Arwel Price, Andrew Squires. Conductor: Richard Farnes, Director: Tom Cairns, Set and costume designer: Hildegard Bechtler, Lighting designer: Bruno Poet

Edinburgh International Festival, Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, 11th August 2012

Above: Leoš Janáček [Source: Wikipedia]

 

The plot concerns a long-running legal dispute over inheritance where the will is missing. The case has dragged on for more than 300 years, long after the initial claimants have died. Or not, as the Case might be. The law office scene has a strong element of dramatic tension, albeit perhaps at a slow pace, and this is not unpromising for an opera. It might however perhaps seem potentially rather dry and lacking in emotional content. But the desiccation is deliberate, suggesting centuries of pointless litigation. A mysterious diva, Emilia Marty, appears in town, transfixing all males who cross her path. In addition to her spell-binding powers, she appears to have mysterious knowledge of the matters of the case, to the consternation of the male company. Played out is a contrast between masculinity and femininity; logic and intuition; the tangible and the supernatural.

Only in the final (third) act is this resolved: the mystery woman has uncanny personal knowledge of the events which others are having to piece together from documents. She is the same woman, who has been involved since the beginning, travelling through time in different incarnations under variants of her initials "E M" . She became immortal because in her youth she drank an elixir of (almost) eternal youth devised by her father, which she had given to the original testator. The recipe for the elixir had been wrapped inside the will of her long ago lover, but only she knows the location. Until now, it's been considered missing or non-existent.

Having regained the means to renew extended life, she chooses to reject it, having 'seen enough'. Eternity isn't all it's cracked up to be. In a dramatic final scene, she ages visibly on stage - lit and staged very well in this production - before expiring. The message that life is best lived out within its naturally allocated span is in fact life affirming and this enjoyable show leaves the audience walking out of the theatre on air.

The multi-talented Swedish singer Yiva Kihlberg excels in the central role of Emilia Marty in this her debut with Opera North. Her first entry onstage, dressed in a wasp-waisted suit with Margaret Thatcher-style handbag recalls not only Thatcher but a young Elizabeth Taylor - a useful analogy for the audience. A 1940s styled simple set enables the stage to become in turn a law office; backstage at a theatre and finally a hotel bedroom. It is effective without being distracting and should tour well. Paul Nilon sings a strong Albert Gregor. Mark Le Broq is also very good as Vitek, the head clerk of the law firm. Nigel Robson is delightfully raffish as Count Hauk Sendorff.

This production is thoroughly enjoyable and would in fact make a good introduction to audiences new to opera, especially those that might fear "modern" opera. Janáček's The Makropulos Case dates from 1926, so it's olderr than most patrons, unless they, too, have Emilia Marty's secret. This production was presented in English translation, and the singing was clear and easy to follow. Janáček's music is accessible and vivid, and this performance, conducted by Richard Farnes, demonstrated why this opera has become a classic. Catch it in Edinburgh if you can - there are further performances tonight and tomorrow - or on tour this autumn, details at www.operanorth.co.uk.

Juliet Williams

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):