Janacek - Vec Makropoulos

ONP Bastille, Wednesday October 2 2013

Leos Janacek and his wife
Conductor: Susanna Mälkki. Production: Krzysztof Warlikowski. Sets and costumes: Malgorzata Szczesniak. Video: Denis Guéguin. Lighting: Felice Ross. Emilia Marty: Ricarda Merbeth. Albert Gregor: Atilla Kiss-b. Jaroslav Prus: Vincent Le Texier. Dr Kolenaty: Jochen Schmeckenbecher. Vítek: Andreas Conrad. Krista: Andrea Hill. Janek: Ladislav Elgr. Hauk-Šendorf: Ryland Davies. Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

When I bought tickets for this revival of Paris's great Makropoulos Affair, I hoped that, this being the last night in the run of eight, the atmosphere might be supercharged. It wasn't and I was almost disappointed. Not by the visually stunning production, still stunning (and intelligent) though I was seeing it for the fourth time. (My previous reports date from 2007 and 2009). But Vincent Le Texier has lost a degree of power, Ryland Davies, though still charming as Hauk, is nearly inaudible, and the rest of the cast was somehow relatively uncharismatic, with characters not quite filling the stage as their predecessors did.

Emilia Marty
Conductor Susanna Mälkki has had good
reviews but it didn't seem to me that under her guidance the Paris Opera Orchestra was any more fluent in Janacek than before, however often they've now played the score. But, once again, I was in parterre seats in one of those spots at the Bastille where the orchestral sound isn't as clear as it should be.

The exception, and the reason I left the house happy, was Ricarda Merbeth. Not that she is a natural bête de scène ; but she put in a visible and laudable amount of earnest endeavour, doing her best to vamp through the role. And above all, she gave us a magnificently sung final scene, making up for the evening's shortcomings.


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