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

Bartoli a dream Cenerentola in Amsterdam

With her irresistible cocktail of spontaneity and virtuosity, Cecilia Bartoli is a beloved favourite of Amsterdam audiences. In triple celebratory mode, the Italian mezzo-soprano chose Rossini’s La Cenerentola, whose bicentenary is this year, to mark twenty years of performing at the Concertgebouw, and her twenty-fifth performance at its Main Hall.

Winterreise : a parallel journey

Matthew Rose and Gary Matthewman Winterreise: a Parallel Journey at the Wigmore Hall, a recital with extras. Schubert's winter journey reflects the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, where images act as signposts mapping the protagonist's psychological journey.

Anna Bolena in Lisbon

Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, composed in 1830, didn’t make it to Lisbon until 1843 when there were 14 performances at its magnificent Teatro São Carlos (opened 1793), and there were 17 more performances spread over the next two decades. The entire twentieth century saw but three (3) performances in this European capital.

Oh, What a Night in San Jose

It is difficult to know where to begin to praise the stunning achievement of Opera San Jose’s West Coast premiere of Silent Night.

Billy Budd in Madrid

Like Carmen, Billy Budd is an operatic personage of such breadth and depth that he becomes unique to everyone. This signals that there is no Billy Budd (or Carmen) who will satisfy everyone. And like Carmen, Billy Budd may be indestructible because the opera will always mean something to someone.

A riveting Nixon in China at the Concertgebouw

American composer John Adams turns 70 this year. By way of celebration no less than seven concerts in this season’s NTR ZaterdagMatinee series feature works by Adams, including this concert version of his first opera, Nixon in China.

English song: shadows and reflections

Despite the freshness, passion and directness, and occasional wry quirkiness, of many of the works which formed this lunchtime recital at the Wigmore Hall - given by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, pianist James Baillieu and viola player Guy Pomeroy - a shadow lingered over the quiet nostalgia and pastoral eloquence of the quintessentially ‘English’ works performed.

A charming Pirates of Penzance revival at ENO

'Nobody does Gilbert and Sullivan anymore.’ This was the comment from many of my friends when I mentioned the revival of Mike Leigh's 2015 production of The Pirates of Penzance at English National Opera (ENO). Whilst not completely true (English Touring Opera is doing Patience next month), this reflects the way performances of G&S have rather dropped out of the mainstream. That Leigh's production takes the opera on its own terms and does not try to send it up, made it doubly welcome.

A Relevant Madama Butterfly

On Feb 3, 2017, Arizona Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s dramatic opera Madama Butterfly. Sandra Lopez was the naive fifteen-year-old who falls hopelessly in love with the American Naval Officer.

Johan Reuter sings Brahms with Wiener Philharmoniker

In the last of my three day adventure, I headed to Vienna for the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein (my first time!) for Mahler and Brahms.

Gatti and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Head to Asia

In Amsterdam legend Janine Jansen and the seventh Principal Conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw, Daniele Gatti, came together for their first engagement in a ravishing performance of Berg’s Violin Concerto.

Verdi’s Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker

I extravagantly scheduled hearing the Berliner, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Wiener Philharmoniker, to hear these three top orchestra perform their series programmes opening the New Year.

Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher in Lyon

There is no bigger or more prestigious name in avant-garde French theater than Romeo Castellucci (b. 1960), the Italian metteur en scène of this revival of Arthur Honegger’s mystère lyrique, Joan of Arc at the Stake (1938) at the Opéra Nouvel in Lyon.

A New Look at Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio

On January 28, 2017, Los Angeles Opera premiered James Robinson’s nineteen twenties production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, which places the story on the Orient Express. Since Abduction is a work with spoken dialogue like The Magic Flute, the cast sang their music in German and spoke their lines in English.

Giasone in Geneva

Fecund Jason, father of his wife Isifile’s twins and as well father of his seductress Medea’s twins, does indeed have a problem — he prefers to sleep with and wed Medea. In this resurrection of the most famous opera of the seventeenth century he evidently also sleeps with Hercules.

Falstaff in Genoa

A Falstaff that raised-the-bar ever higher, this was a posthumous resurrection of Luca Ronconi’s masterful staging of Verdi’s last opera, the third from last of the 83 operas Ronconi staged during his lifetime (1933-2015). And his third staging of Falstaff following Salzburg in 1993 and Florence in 2006.

Traviata in Seattle

One of Aidan Lang’s first initiatives as artistic director of Seattle Opera was to encourage his board to formulate a “mission statement” for the fifty-year old company. The document produced was clear, simple, and anodyne. Seattle Opera would aim above all to create work appealing both to the emotions and reason of the audience.

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part II: Kasper Holten’s angelic Lohengrin

Contrary to Stolzi’s multidimensional Parsifal, Holten’s simple setting of Lohengrin felt timeless with its focus on the drama between characters. Premiering in 2012, nothing too flashy and with a clever twist,

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part I: Stölzl’s Psychedelic Parsifal

Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB) consistently serves up superlatively sung Wagner productions. This Fall, its productions of Philipp Stölzl's Parsifal and Kasper Holten's Lohengrin offered intoxicating musical affairs. Annette Dasch, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Peter Seiffert reached for the stars. Even when it comes down to last minute replacements, the casting is topnotch.

Donna abbandonata: Temple Song Series

Donna abbandonata would have been a good title for the first concert of Temple Music’s 2017 Song Series. Indeed, mezzo-soprano Christine Rice seems to be making a habit of playing abandoned women.

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):