sun 22/09/2019

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

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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.

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