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Vec Makropulos based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Leos Janacek wrote what many consider his operatic masterpiece, The Makropoulos Case (The Marhropoulos Affair/Vec Makropoulos) in the mid 1920’s, premiering in 1926. Based on a comedy by Czech playwright Karel Capek, this is certainly one of Janacek’s best scores, but is also a fairly dense and symbolic story that unfolds gradually. This is a very enjoyable production, recorded live at the 2011 Salzburg Festival with a modernistic set design and somewhat surreal feel in this staging by Christopher Marthaler. Musically, this is a very interesting work, containing some “recognizable” Janacek (brass flourishes and chattering winds that will remind many of bits and pieces of Taras Bulba or the Sinfonietta). However, the score also flirts with styles that echo everything from late Richard Strauss to early Schoenberg to Debussy. Both musically and dramatically I have always liked The Makropoulos Case but in the small, but impressive Janacek operatic output, I am partial to From the House of the Dead with its fairly grim, but direct libretto. The plot to Makropoulos is – all at once – simple and very heady. Essentially, a mysterious opera singer and a bit of femme fatale, Emilia Marty, shows up while in opera productions to offer information that can unravel clues to a century old lawsuit between two families involving secret documents, spurned love and unproven lineages. The real catch – which does not even begin to become clear until the late second act – is that Marty is probably (later – admittedly) the daughter of the physician to the Emperor Rudolph II who had commissioned the personal physician to concoct a “fountain of youth” potion which the Emperor tested on the doctor’s daughter, Elina Makropoulos. After it is revealed that Emilia Marty has, indeed, been alive for over 300 years and has assumed various identities, each of which is a woman with the initials “EM”, the proof of this finally emerges. Along the way, Emilia encounters many men who are attracted to her; who have an inkling of her mysterious nature and – in one case – is actually a former lover from many years ago. The story is considered a comedy by author Capek and by Janacek but the humor is broad, satirical and subtle; falling mainly along the lines of poking fun at the folly of those who seek immortality, the arrogance of the upper class who think they can, literally, buy such a thing and the frailty of the human nature; especially into old age. If Makropoulos is not performed more often it is not for the music, which is accessible and ethereal; just “modern” enough while being very audience friendly. It is, perhaps, for the libretto, which requires full audience concentration and more than a little acumen for irony. In fact, many would find it a stretch that the story is a “comedy”. While there are stock characters and some very creative unsung doddering laborers who are treated a bit shabbily at the hands of the upper crust in satiric fashion; ultimately Emilia’s centuries old roulade ends when her secret is discovered. She leaves several forelorn admirers, a son and a starry eyed admirer of opera all somewhat shocked and disappointed and Marty – in the libretto – drops dead (In Marthaler’s staging, she walks off stage symbolically never to be seen again). The “comedy” is the broadest of satires and the tone is actually quite bittersweet. The reason to acquire this very engaging new DVD is the modernistic staging, coupled with the wonderful and insightf