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The Makropulos Case review at Coliseum London

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ENO’s new production of Janacek’s philosophical mystery about a woman who has lived for centuries trying to regain the formula for eternal youth represents a striking return to top form for the company.

Sir Charles Mackerras is back in the pit for the composer whose music he has made internationally famous and draws a marvellous account of the score from the orchestra, paying homage to its lyricism as well as its modernism.

Charles Edward’s unit set represents an empty bureaucratic space in twenties Prague that fits the lawyer’s office better than the theatre of the second act or the hotel room of the third. But in Christopher Alden’s imaginative production, graced by Sue Willmington’s elegant period costumes, the drama comes over with vivid realism, even in the case of the 337-year-old heroine.

Emilia Marty is sung by Cheryl Barker with easy command and her stylish personification blends chic with ennui. She’s solidly supported by tenor Robert Brubaker as Albert Gregor, Neal Davies as lawyer Dr Kolenaty and Graham Clark as an amiably daffy Hauk-Sendorf, one of Emilia’s innumerable lovers.

There are equally pinpoint accurate representations of lawyer’s clerk Vitek from John Graham-Hall, his daughter Kristina from Elena Xanthoudakis and her boyfriend Janek from Thomas Walker, with John Wegner imposing as Gregor’s legal opponent Jaroslav Prus.

But the whole ensemble is excellent and the opera grips from first to last. A great operatic evening.

Production Information

Coliseum, London, May 18, 20, 24, 26, 30, June 2, 7, 9

Christopher Alden
English National Opera
Cast includes
Cheryl Barker, Robert Brubaker, John Graham-Hall, John Wegner, Graham Clark
Running time
2hrs 15mins

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