Janacek relates in his memoirs that in 1879 he found that " the inflections of human speech and indeed of the voices of all creatures become to me a source of profound truth-a life necessity, as it were...speech motifs are my windows into the soul....they are the expression of a beings totality and of all phases of its activity." (Hollander 1963 : 54). Also, Janacek was influenced by the songs and dances of Eastern Moravia and Slovakia, which originated in the vocal sphere. So his melodic idiom grew out of the language.
What is the Makropulos Affair? Janacek based his opera and Libretto on Karel Capek's philosophical comedy,but he concentrated on the emotional state of 337 year old Elina Makropulos. Janacek kept the original three act framework of the play intact,but the death scene is his invention. The libretto is the most wordy of all his operas,so Janacek could use his speech melody to the fullest which explores the inner life,that is why the minor characters come alive. This mysterious woman, Emila Marty a opera singer, was Eugenia Montez, Ellian McGregor, Elsa Mueller, Ekaterina Myskin,really once Elena Makropulos,always using the initials EM. She was the daughter of Rudolf's 11 (1552-1612)Greek Physician and court alchemist who fell victim to a elikir of eternal life which her father first tried on her. He was murdered soon after. Elena lived in various countries under different names training as a singer and lives for 337 years. An involved legacy suit establishes the truth about her existence. Not before she has regained the magic formula and then is able to find her long for redemption in death,for she is tired of being cynical and hard.
The first performance of this opera was held at Brno,Czechoslovakia in 1926. The Makropulos Affair is unlike Jenufa and Kata Kabanova(Bluray) with its beautiful melodies,as this music seeths and rages,with flecks of sunlit tunes, using the inflection of the Czech language to the fullest, which Janacek drives to risky lengths.He can do this because he is master of his craft.
Chrisoph Marthaler stage director,with set and Costumes from 1920's-196O's designed by Anna Viebrock. The staging is a mixture of the 1920's Court room, with 1960's upholstered benches which is very functional and adds to the strangeness of Emila Marty. Only one set is used on this large stage used for this Salzburg 2011 festival offering. On the left hand side is a glass booth where a young cleaner debates with a older woman,the philosopical meaning of life and would it not be better to live for 300 years, while killing themselves with their smoking. On the right hand side is a booth filled with plants,an artifical Eden. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Philharmonic orchestra with urgency,as well as catching the tuneful moments especially the lovely ending of the opera. Emila Marty(Makropulos)is sung by Angela Denoke who is the center of all the action on stage. A fine soprano in a difficult role.A fine actress. The death scene is beautifully done. Albert Gregor,Raymond Very is good. Krista,as a fan of Emila the opera singer is well done. Raymond Davies as Hauk-Sendorf who was Emila's lover when she was Eugenia Montez stands out. The other parts are sung excellently.For lovers of Janaceks work this opera is a must have.
REGION CODE A.B.C. 1080i. 16.9. pcm stereo. Dts-Hd Ma 5.1. Running time 118 minutes. Bluray excellent.