Leoš Janáček: The Makropulos Affair

Leoš Janáček The Makropulos Affair
The Makropulos Affair

Leoš Janáček: The Makropulos Affair

Year of composition:
1925
Subtitle:
Opera in 3 acts
Composer:
Leoš Janáček
Original language:
Czech
Translator:
Michel Ancey (26.05.1965); Ute Becker; Alena Wagnerová; Elijah Moschinsky (26.01.1995); Christof Bitter (25.02.1982); Sona Cervena (13.03.1982); Max Brod; Norman Tucker (17.01.1964)
Librettist:
Leoš Janáček
Writer of pre-existing text:
Karel Capek
Piano reduction:
Ludvik Kundera (1926)
Roles:
Emilia Marty, dramatic soprano Albert Gregor, tenor Vítek, tenor Christa, mezzo-soprano Jaroslav Prus, baritone Janek, tenor Advokat Kolenaty, bass-baritone Strojník, bass Poklízecka, alto Hauk-Sendorf, operetta tenor Komorná, alto Lékar, silent
Choir:
Männerchor (TTBB)
Instrumentation:
4 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1 - timp, perc(3), hp, cel, str - stage music: hn(2), tpt(2), timp
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute
3rd flute
4th flute
1st oboe
2nd oboe
cor anglais
1st clarinet in Bb
2nd clarinet in Bb
bass clarinet in Bb
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
contrabassoon
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
1st trumpet in F
2nd trumpet in F
3rd trumpet in F
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
tuba
timpani
percussion(3)
harp
celesta
violin I
violin II
viola
violoncello
contrabass
stage music: 1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
1st trumpet in F
2nd trumpet in F
timpani
Scenery:
3
Duration:
120’
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Audiosamples

The Makropulos Affair
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The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

Work introduction

The Makropulos Affair, Janáček’s eighth and, at the same time, penultimate opera belongs to the most frequently produced operas of the 20th century. The opera is based on the drama by Karel Čapek that Janáček got to see in Brno in January 1923. It was here when he started to think about the Čapek’s drama to base his new opera on. At the beginning, Čapek was not very excited about this idea. Eventually, in September 1923 Čapek agreed so Janáček could start composing on November 11, 1923. He finished and corrected the manuscript on December 3, 1925. The opera was premièred in the National Theatre in Brno on December 18, 1926 and the reception was better than originally expected thanks to the production team of director Otakar Zítko and conductor František Neumann.

What is so attractive about The Makropulos Affair? Maybe its turbulent detective story, its mysteriousness and fantasticalness. Maybe also its modern setting where characters use telephones (by the way, this is the very first opera where a telephone is used) or take a taxi. Unlike his previous opera The Cunning Little Vixen, The Makropulos Affair is the opposite of the common, as its characters, story and setting are exceptional and somewhat exclusive. At the same time, it is a story of an unhappy woman forced to live for three hundred years, thus becoming against her will an emotionally burnt-out creature. Why does The Makropulos Affair disturb us on one hand and move us on the other? It may be caused by its author’s musical speech based on very short, even aphoristic motifs put in layers and attacking us in a terse, turbulent movement in connections with dynamics of the acting characters. Or is the film condensation used to narrate the story close to us in some way? Surely there are lots of things about this work that draw our attentions and due to which it is considered one of the peaks of the world music theatre of the 20th century.

Jiří Zahrádka

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The Makropulos Affair

Leoš Janáček: The Makropulos Affair

libretto
, 120’
Instr.: 4 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1 - timp, perc(3), hp, cel, str - stage music: hn(2), tpt(2), timp

Next performances

10 Mar

The Makropulos Affair

Staatstheater Darmstadt, Darmstadt (DE)

16 Mar

The Makropulos Affair

Staatstheater Darmstadt, Darmstadt (DE)

22 Mar

The Makropulos Affair

Staatstheater Darmstadt, Darmstadt (DE)

29 Mar

The Makropulos Affair

Staatstheater Darmstadt, Darmstadt (DE)

13 Apr

The Makropulos Affair

Staatstheater Darmstadt, Darmstadt (DE)

World première

Location:
Brno
Date:
18.12.1926
Orchestra:
Orchestra of the National Theatre of Brno
Conductor:
Neumann František

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