Nadja Michael as Emilia Marty in Janáček's "The Makropulos Case"
©Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera
My review of Vec Makropulos is up at SFCV now. I turned it in 24 hours late and it was not posted until sometime this afternoon.
I am not completely satisfied by it. It was hell to write, in part because I got tangled up in one of the late Robert Commanday's guidelines for SFCV writers: do not compare.
This put me in an odd position. I wrote SFCV's review of the 2010 premiere of this production, which starred Karita Mattila, and lemme just say, if you've seen her in just about any role, you remember what it was like. EM was an approximately perfect role for her, between her personal glamour, her magnetic stage presence, and that cool soprano. As you'll see, I snuck her into the review but did not go full-bore into comparisons with Nadja Michael.
I now think I should have sent Bob a silent apology and done some comparisons. For one thing, Michael sang well and was an entirely worthy exponent of the role. I was not going to use Mattila as a club to beat her. It's entirely possible that what Bob had in mind was, say, do not compare a couple of Adler Fellows singing Wolfe to the legendary Lotte Lehmann.
For another, the differences between the two sopranos meant that the opera as a whole had a different balance, with more light cast by the ensemble because they were performing with a less completely dominant lead than Mattila.
I've so far only looked at Opera Tattler's brief review on her blog. She gets at something I meant to include and didn't: while I found Mikhail Tatarnikov more lyrical and warmer in Makropulos than the amazing Jiří Bělohlávek, I also found his approach somewhat blunter and less finely detailed. (I know this because an off-the-air recording of the 2010 bring-up is readily available.)
That said, see OT for a round-up of reviews.