SFOpera - More about Janacek and "The Makropulos Case"

More about Janacek and "The Makropulos Case"


Hans Hollander, Janáček: His Life and Work. Translated by Paul Hamburger (John Calder). A perceptive appreciation by an associate of the composer.

Ian Horsbrugh, Leoš Janáček: The Field that Prospered (Scribner’s). Elegant, perceptive, thorough.

Mirka Zemanová, Janáček: A Composer’s Life (Northeastern University Press). Engaging and straightforward.

Karel Čapek’s The Makropulos Case is included (with R.U.R., The Insect Play, and The White Plague) in Four Plays, translated by Peter Majer and Cathy Porter (Methuen).

Recordings and Video

A video production of The Makropulos Case from the Glyndebourne Festival, staged by Nicholas Lehnhoff and directed for the screen by Brian Large, stars Anja Silja as Emilia Marty. The singing and acting are excellent, as is the London Philharmonic under Andrew Davis (Kultur).

Charles Mackerras (San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor from 1993 to 1996) championed Janáček and recorded The Makropulos Case twice. His Decca recording, made with the Vienna Philharmonic, is sung in Czech and features Elisabeth Söderström as Emilia Marty. This is currently available for download at deccaclassics.com and is also part of a multi-disc set that includes four other Janáček operas (minus libretti).

Mackerras’ later Chandos recording, a production of the English National Opera, features Cheryl Barker as Marty. This is sung in English, a helpful way of getting to know the opera, though English fails to convey the elegance of Janáček’s setting. In a recorded interview that fills out the second disc (of two discs), Mackerras discusses his relationship with Janáček’s operas and speaks about Makropulos.

Larry Rothe is author of the San Francisco Symphony history Music for a City, Music for the World and co-author of For the Love of Music.

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