National Theatre Brno

THE MAKROPULOS AFFAIR (Janáček Brno 2024)

If someone doesn’t like opera, take them to see Janáček, said conductor Simon Rattle and he is right. Janáček’s operas are each unique in their own right, running at the speed of thought and theatrical in the best sense of the word. For example, The Makropulos Affair with its almost detective plot is certainly not a typical operatic subject, but in Janáček’s rendition, a century-old court dispute over an inheritance quickly turns into a gripping drama about the search for the meaning of human life. It is even more of an experience when you add director Claus Guth’s production view, where realistic images of the law office and the theatre backstage alternate with surreal moments of the main character’s isolation. The Makropulos Affair was written for the Berlin Staatsoper and this is the first time this great opera company will be performing at the festival Janáček Brno. 

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detective
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janáčekbrno2024

All dates

Saturday

11/16/2024


7:00 PM


Janáčkovo divadlo

Brno


450 - 4500 CZK

Monday

11/18/2024


7:00 PM


Janáčkovo divadlo

Brno


360 - 3600 CZK

Description

ABOUT

If someone doesn’t like opera, take them to see Janáček, said conductor Simon Rattle and he is right. Janáček’s operas are each unique in their own right, running at the speed of thought and theatrical in the best sense of the word. For example, The Makropulos Affair with its almost detective plot is certainly not a typical operatic subject, but in Janáček’s rendition, a century-old court dispute over an inheritance quickly turns into a gripping drama about the search for the meaning of human life. It is even more of an experience when you add director Claus Guth’s production view, where realistic images of the law office and the theatre backstage alternate with surreal moments of the main character’s isolation. The German director Claus Guth is one of the world’s leading filmmakers and is best known for his productions of works by Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner and Händel. His first encounter with Czech opera was a production of Bohuslav Martinů’s Juliette in 2016, but it was not until six years later that his first Janáček came, an excellent production of Her Stepdaughter (Jenůfa) for Covent Garden. The Makropulos Affair was written for the Berlin Staatsoper and this is the first time this great opera company will be performing at the festival. 

The Makropulos Affair is in many ways a work unparalleled in the world of opera. It is not surprising that Karel Čapek, the author of the literary original, was initially somewhat sceptical about Janáček’s intention to adapt his play into an opera. Set in a legal environment, full of dialogue and with a convoluted storyline, where characters make phone calls and where tracing family connections is almost a task for a genealogy expert, the plot was not entirely typical of opera even in the early 20th century. But Janáček, who had already dealt with life and its endless cycle in The Cunning Little Vixen was very interested in what The Makropulos Affair hides under its legal-detective plot – the question whether immortality can bring happiness to people or whether human life is fulfilled by the inevitability of the end. Janáček himself later recalled: It gripped me. You know, the horrible, the emotional of a human that will never end. Pure misery. Wanting nothing, expecting nothing. There must be something to it. The third act, that’s what I take pride in: the rush, the cliff! That’s what I felt, that’s what I wanted. Čapek eventually agreed to the musicalization, and Janáček set about revising and shortening the text of the play. He devoted the next two years to the composition, and Janáček’s correspondence traces his interest in and sympathy for the opera’s main character: A beauty 300 years old – and eternally young – but only a burnt-out emotion! Brr! Cold as ice! But I’ll make her warmer so people will have compassion for her. I might even fall in love with her. The premiere in 1928 in the Brno theatre before Christmas aroused unprecedented interest and the theatre was completely sold out! The success was huge. Janáček recalled: The cold one was an unprecedented success! A chill went down everyone’s spine. It’s supposedly my greatest work! 

Patricie Částková

Creatives

Author: Leoš Janáček

Conductor: Robert Jindra

Director: Claus Guth

Ensemble: Staatsoper Berlin

Cast

Emilia Marty – Dorothea Röschmann
Albert Gregor – Aleš Briscein
Vítek  – Stephan Rügamer
Kristina – Natalia Skrycka
Janek Prus – Linard Vrielink
and others

Show more
Length 110 minutes
Music
Leoš Janáček
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