San Francisco Opera gave the US premiere of Leos Janacek’s The Makropulos Case fifty years ago this fall, and they’re staging it again now through the 29th. In the lead as beautiful and eternally youthful singer Emilia Marty, is German soprano Nadja Michael. She sees the role as one of several strong-willed female characters that Janacek wrote.

There’s more information at the San Francisco Opera website.

Nadja Michael says Janacek took a more feminist view of Emilia Marty than Karel Capek, the author of the play upon which the opera is based. “He turned the plot slightly around, actually, as has done Verdi with Macbeth, for instance, who put the lady much more in the center, and who gave her much more space. The same actually did Janacek with Emilia Marti. Because he gave her a human being heart, a human being fate, and put her needs, let’s say, in the center.” The heroine, who has lived for more than 300 years (her alchemist father tested a potion for eternal life on her) is sometimes summed up too simplistically:  “The cliché is it’s a fatal woman,” she says. “It’s a woman who lives forever, she’s a vamp, everybody falls for her. Every man. But actually it is not right. Because she doesn’t do anything. She doesn’t want them to fall. She wants something for herself, which she needs. She needs to renew her eternal power. But she doesn’t want men to fall for her. No, she’s very annoyed about it.”