It's a shame that an opera about a soprano who stays literally hundreds of years in the limelight is so often confined to the dusty back shelves of the repertoire. The last production of the Makropulos Case at SF Opera, prior to the amazing run which opened last Wednesday, was in 1993, and this wait is surprisingly long given how successful the evening was. This show rocked.
The Makropulos Case was written by Czech composer Leoš Janáček in 1926, after a play by Karel Čapek. It is an unlikely story for an opera, since half of its characters are lawyers. Despite the facts that opera singers are more likely to look like fat cat attorneys than dashing adventurers. They are still debating a lawsuit about a hundred year old will when enters Emilia Marty, sung by Karita Mattila, who is dashing all right. Turns out that she knows the legal predicament inside out since, having drunk a youth potion centuries ago, she not only was around when the will had been written, she was the mother of the lovechild who got robbed of his inheritance. Since the envelope which contains the will also contains the recipe of the potion she had given to her lover, and since she wants another three hundred year lease on life, she's come to get it back.