Monday 21 July 2008

DVD: Anja Silja in The Makropulos case

The Makropulos Case. Glyndebourne Festival 1995. Production: Nikolaus Lehnhoff. Cast: Anja Silja (Emilia Marty), Kim Begley (Gregor), Andrew Shore (Kolenaty). Conductor: Andrew Davis. Further information here.

When this was recorded in 1995 Anja Silja was about 55 years old (her exact age remains obscure). Though still young compared to the 337 years of her character Emilia Marty, it is still the problematic issue of this production: Despite her dramatic grip of the character and commanding presence on stage, Anja Silja simply both looks and sounds far too old to convince as the eternally young and sexually irresistible Emilia Marty. Since this opera stands or falls with Emilia Marty, it does not help much that all the secondary characters are superb as well as Andrew Davis´ orchestra.

Nikolaus Lehnhoff´s production tells the story in a relatively straight-forward manner set around the time of the composition (1923-5). Anyone not familiar with the plot may have a look here.

This is still worth watching for Anja Silja, the great singing actress. However, when Emilia Marty looks like a grandmother rather than a seductress, the entire point of the opera may not be easily conveyed...

Presently this is the only DVD available of The Makropulos case, to my knowledge.

Anja Silja as Emilia Marty revealing her secret:

The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average)

Anja Silja: 2-3
Nikolaus Lehnhoff´s staging: 3
Andrew Davis: 4

Overall impression: 3

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