Slowly but surely, Janácek's Jenufa is entering the standard operatic repertory. And no wonder, since the story and music are so powerful, poignant, and -- ultimately -- uplifting. Also, a number of fine sopranos have discovered that Jenufa is a plum role. The great Finnish soprano Karita Mattila first sang the role in 1998 and has made a specialty of it since then. This recording was made live during an acclaimed production at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Mattila's pure yet intense tone is ideally suited to Jenufa -- a character who seems young and innocent but proves to have a rare nobility of spirit. The rest of the cast is also excellent. Jorma Silvasti's Laca is rightly impetuous, and he negotiates the high-flying part with astonishing ease. The veteran soprano Anja Silja invests the Kostelnicka (Jenufa's straight-laced stepmother) with more humanity than is usual, making her character less of a caricature. Bernard Haitink is not known as a Janácek conductor, and while he is not always as incisive as one might wish, the warmth and solidity of his interpretation are deeply satisfying. It has been many years since we've had such a fine recording of Jenufa as this one, and it is very urgently recommended -- not only to aficionados of the composer but also to those who are ready to discover one of the great operas of the early 20th century.