It’s Monday morning, week two of The Makropulos Case rehearsals in the Linacre Studio here at Opera North. Richard Farnes has just returned from a triumphant evening of conducting the four-hour long Die Walküre at The Sage Gateshead, and here he is, energetic as ever, working with principal singers Paul Nilon (Albert Gregor) and Ylva Kihlberg (Emilia Marty), on Janáček’s music.
The rehearsal room is a calm environment this morning. Director Tom Cairns is liaising with stage management on marking out the location of the low-slung white leather chairs on set. He wants to ensure that the angles give the right turn of head for the singers when they sit there. It’s important that this is noted down in order to be translated to the stage at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre when the set moves up there a couple of weeks prior to opening on 11 August. Two wooden bureaux, an old-fashioned telephone and a trilby are the only other pieces currently on this shell of a set.
Ylva Kihlberg and Paul Nilon are smart and also relaxed as they gather around the piano this morning to run through specific musical sections with Richard Farnes and repetiteur John Querns. When they sing, Ylva’s shock of wavy auburn hair is not the only feature that lights up the room.
Later today, and for the remainder of the week, rehearsals will be busier as more singers arrive, including James Creswell (Dr Kolenatý), who recently sang the title role in English National Opera’s The Flying Dutchman. Stephanie Corley (Kristina) will also be back at Opera North for the first time since she received great reviews for the lead role in 2010/11’s The Merry Widow. There is much excitement and anticipation among the cast and creative team involved in this production - especially as there are now just seven weeks until opening night at Edinburgh International Festival. The countdown to Opera North’s first performance at the festival in eight years starts here…!
The Makropulos Case opens at Edinburgh International Festival on Saturday 11 August, with a further performance on Monday 13 August. The production then forms part of Opera North's Autumn season, opening at Leeds Grand Theatre on 18 October before touring to The Lowry, Salford Quays, Theatre Royal Newcastle and Theatre Royal Nottingham. For more information and booking details, click here.