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Kurt Moses
American Record Guide, November 2012

This production, from Salzburg, is the best, musically, that I’ve heard. This is as good a production of this bizarre story as I’ve seen. Marthaler’s direction is astute; and the scenery and costumes, by Anna Viebrock, contribute to the mystery. The cast is excellent, notably Angela Denoke in the leading role of Marty. Her voice is strong…and even…She is a resourceful and untiring vocal and physical actress and perfect for the role…Raymond Very (Albert Gregor) and Johan Reuter (Jaroslav Prus), [are] both fine singing actors. Indeed, there isn’t a weak member in the cast. Esa-Pekka Salonen is the excellent conductor…His contribution, and the VPO’s, to this wonderful performance should not be neglected. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

Fred Cohn
Opera News, September 2012

JANACEK, L.: Vec Makropulos (The Makropulos Affair) (Salzburg Festival, 2011) (NTSC) 709508
JANACEK, L.: Vec Makropulos (The Makropulos Affair) (Salzburg Festival, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) 709604

Denoke’s Marty quite rightly dominates the proceedings. Painted in thick, Weimar-style makeup, she is both repellent and fascinating. The portrayal is entirely unsentimental: rather than giving her a Liebestod-like transfiguration, Marthaler simply has her walk offstage into oblivion. But Denoke manages nonetheless to suggest the human heart beating beneath the icy surface, especially through her singing. The voice is unbeautiful but complex and penetrating, with a haunted quality that suggests the tragedy of Marty’s situation.

The supporting cast is uniformly fine.

Salonen’s mastery of this opera manifests itself subtly; one is less aware of music being conducted than of a compelling drama unfolding at its natural pace. And no orchestra on earth is better suited to convey Makropulos’s hidden romanticism than the Vienna Philharmonic: for all of the music’s spikiness, this performance often suggests unheard rhapsodies, struggling to break through. © 2012 Opera News Read complete review

Simon Thompson
MusicWeb International, August 2012

Musically this is a very fine version of The Makropulos Affair. It’s dominated by the superb presence of the Vienna Philharmonic in the pit. They’re Salzburg regulars but here they cast a special magic over a score that can sometimes sound jagged or fragmentary. Often in this opera Janáček gives the most lyrical melodies to the orchestra rather than to the singers. The glorious nature of the orchestral sound really helps this aspect of the work to come alive. They are sumptuous, rich and beautiful, and they are captured in very good DTS sound so that they sound even more vibrant here than they do for Mackerras on his famous Decca recording (on CD). They are helped by Esa-Pekka Salonen’s commanding presence. He helps to shape the unfolding of the score to play up the melodic elements and he creates a very satisfying sense of shape to the opera. When the camera focuses on him he tends to be thrashing around to the more angular rhythmic elements, but the lyrical side is there too and it really shows.

The singers are also very good too, led by an outstanding Marty from Angela Denoke. She commands the stage with her charismatic presence, dominating every exchange, as well she should, and her voice is superb, rich and beautiful with a lovely bloom that helps to suggest the character’s great experience...The finest of the men is Johan Reuter whose Prus is a revelation. His character is every bit as domineering as Denoke’s and he combines dignity with cunning, showing that he is a worthy sparring partner for Marty, as well as her most dangerous adversary. However, he also sings with great beauty and authority, making this a three-dimensional character. In the hands of two such great artists, Marty and Prus’ jousting session at the end of Act 2 becomes the highlight of the opera. Raymond Very’s Gregor is ardent and thrustful, singing the character’s love music with lyrical abandon and demonstrating that he is totally enslaved to Marty’s magic. Peter Hoare’s Vitek is officious but lyrical, while Jurgita Adamonytė’s Krista is bright but also slightly brittle, contrasting her with the more domineering soprano of Denoke. Ryland Davies steals the show as Hauk, lyrical and smooth, suggesting an old man brought back to life by his unexpected reunion with a childhood sweetheart. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Mike Ashman
Gramophone, August 2012

JANACEK, L.: Vec Makropulos (The Makropulos Affair) (Salzburg Festival, 2011) (NTSC) 709508
JANACEK, L.: Vec Makropulos (The Makropulos Affair) (Salzburg Festival, 2011) (Blu-ray, HD) 709604

The performance has class. The Vienna Philharmonic now play this score with greater naturalness and virtuosity than when they recorded it for Mackerras in 1978.

The singing is mostly terrific. Denoke has…technique and breathing to deliver…Her men are strong (Schmeckenbecher’s Kolenatý and Davies’s Hauk-Šendorf both free of caricatured barking and over-acting) and as for the Krista, Lithuanian Jurgita Adamonytė, it will probably not be just in this opera that she’ll have a distinctive future.

The greatest invention of the production is the physical stylisation of Marty’s uncomfortable ageing during the action. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Janos Gardonyi
The WholeNote, June 2012

One can rest assured that anything coming out of the Salzburg Festival is a world-class, extraordinary event. Director Christoph Marthaler takes full advantage of the Gross­festpielhaus’ wide stage with a tripartite arrangement.

All of the cast is perfect in both respects, but Angela Denoke, one of today’s best with credits too numerous to mention, a stunning German singer/actress…towers above the others and it seems as if the opera has been written for her. A great coup for the Festival in securing Esa-Pekka Salonen as conductor, whose interpretive skill, depth of musical understanding and inspirational leadership is almost unequalled in today’s shallow, sensation-and-cheap-thrill-seeking world. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review, May 2012

…Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair, staged by Christoph Marthaler, is…top-notch…coming across more as a stage play with music than as a traditional opera. Angela Denoke delivers a compelling performance, and Salonen brings forth the variegated score…with great skill. The fact that he is working with perhaps the world’s finest orchestra helps a great deal: the Vienna Philharmonic’s lush sumptuousness is balanced with just enough bite from start to finish. Marthaler’s intriguing conception of The Makropulos Affair is definitely worth seeing, and video director Hannes Rossacher generally does a first-rate job of following the action without intruding into it unnecessarily. Viewers have a sense of presence at the performance that clearly heightens the intensity of the music, and the emotional impact brought to the work by Salonen, Denoke and the rest of the excellent cast is palpable. © 2012 Read complete review

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