mon 21/10/2019

The Makropulos Case, English National Opera | reviews, news & interviews

The Makropulos Case, English National Opera

The Makropulos Case, English National Opera

Alden and Roocroft come together for a perfect, if nihilistic, night of opera

'Amanda Roocroft was incredible as Emilia Marty, both vocally and physically, capturing the fragility of this well-travelled soul as well as the mania'

Opera spends so much of its time killing off female protagonists that it's refreshing to come back to The Makropulos Case. In it Janáček, in one of his many moments of generosity, imagines what might happen if you allowed a woman not just to live but to live forever. The answer? They become a bloody nightmare.

This is as near to a perfect evening of opera as you are likely to get

Share this article


That's a fun opening paragraph. But I thought that one of the points of this Alden production is that EM is more sinned against by unscrupulous men than sinning: quite a feminist tract going on here. And is it not the very opposite of nihilistic, the final message - that human life only has value when lived within its natural limits? That's very liberating, surely. Anyway, can't wait to see it again.

So now I have, and what's all the fuss about the 'final terrifying idea'? I won't say what it is either, but the point is that in both the music and the text, the manuscript has to burn. It's a failure of Janacek's take on the piece not to acknowledge that.

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.