Janacek’s “Makropulos Affair gets a new airing at the Greek National Opera.

It was about time for the Greek Νational Opera to renew its repertoire from the never ending Aida’s, Rigoletto’s and co. The new production of Janacek’s celebrated opera “The Makropoulos Case” was entrusted to the theater director N.Houvardas, who’s controversial “Don Giovanni” a few years ago, raised mixed reviews, mainly bad. He is a theatre director and therefore his view is coloured by his practice, however in this case (no pun intended) , he did a good enough job.
His view underlined and brought forward the theatrical aspect of Janacek’s opera. He opted for a set that was minimal. Huge walls made of corrugated iron, in the centre of which a huge window displayed plants. Later it was used as a room with the old Emilia Marty. All around there were couches doubling as beds in which the characters were hiding.
Heavily influenced by Kubrick’s “Odyssey 2001” the sets by Eva Manidaki, created a claustrophobic atmosphere that reminded one of a space ship rather than an office or a library. The constant movement of the singers (Movement by P.Apergi), became irritating most of the time, since the audience was confused rather than illuminated about the action.
The singing of Elena Kelessidi in the main role, was a welcome and well deserved comeback after a long absence from the stage. She tackled the role of Emilia Marty whith exceptional musicality and dramatic flair. Although not exactly written for her kind of voice, her stage experience and musical ability sailed her through unscathed. A memorable performance by all accounts.
Nikos Stefanou was an accomplished Vitek with an even voice capable of nuances.
Dimitris Paksoglou was an excellent Gregor, with a round ringing voice as were the rest of the cast (V.Maniatis, A.Bogri, Y.Yannissis , C.Kechris, D.Sigalos and A.Rakopoulos), who performed as an accomplished ensemble.
The Orchestra was under the firm and steady hand of Ondrej Olos, although at some points the orchestra was too loud covering the singers.
A performance which one hopes will herald a Janacek Cycle, a composer who is still unknown to Greek Audience.

S.Niarchos Foundation Center, Greek National Opera, 20/5/2018

photos by D.Sakalakis