The Makropulos Case has been the most exciting opera this season, with a convergence of superlative singing, lively conducting, a memorable set and a stage direction that pushes the envelope but makes sense. It helps that they have put together a dream team: Karita Mattila sings Emilia Marty, the main protagonist who has been alive over 300 years after being forced to take a youth potion in her teens. Karita embodies the role with such presence and talent, it does not seem preposterous she was alive ninety years ago to whisper what she wanted for the part into Janáček's ear.
The conductor, Jiri Bělohlávek, is world renowned through his music director gig at the BBC orchestra, but was also born in Brno, in the very Czech city where the opera had its premiere in 1926. And the French stage director Olivier Tambosi crafted a lively and idiosyncratic mise-en-scene which fully reveals the acting potential of the singers and the undercurrents of the story line.
Tambosi is a recurring visitor to the SF Opera, he last directed Manon Lescaut in 2006, already with Karita Mattila. He has directed operas all over the world, including the Met and the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. We had many questions specific to seeing the performance, but the replies he was kind enough to email back highlight his thought process and directing method beyond just this particular setting. You have two more chances to see this opera, tonight and Sunday, and you. must. go. It's that good.