The Makropulos Case made its debut as the finale of the 19th China Shanghai International Arts Festival

2017-11-20

The Makropulos Case, the representative of Czech national opera, made its debut as the finale of the 19th China Shanghai International Arts Festival. It is the last but one opera of the Czechic composer Leoš Janáček, who adapted it from a play of the same name by Karel Čapek. Its premiere was pencilled in for 1926 in Janáček Opera of the National Theatre Brno. From then on, this opera has become one of the "greatest works" of Janáček.

Janáček Opera of the National Theatre Brno is one of the leading opera theatres in the central Europe. This time, the performance it brings to the China Shanghai International Arts Festival will be presented in the original version so that the audience can enjoy the authentic interpretation of Czech national opera.

The Makropulos Case is about the desire for immortality but also about the infinite fatigue and horror to those whom death is denied. The main character, Emilia Marty, has lived for more than three hundred years. She gradually ceases to enjoy life and becomes exhausted, lonely and cynical. This mysterious femme fatale turns upside down the life of anyone she meets. Čapek’s absurd comedy is a mystery thriller that looks into the eccentric world of the opera diva, the decadent aristocracy and the superficial bourgeoisie. 

The Makropulos Case appears to be an exception out of all the Janáček's operas and even operas throughout the 20th century. Janáček sublimated the original mystery comedy into an opera with compassion with power of music. The opera shows the inner life of the main character through the absurd plot; meanwhile, it reveals the true meaning of human nature: the life of immortality is lonely, helpless and desperate while the life with mortality is meaningful. 

From 1923 to 1925, it took Janáček almost two years to revise the script and compose music. The opera thoroughly maintains a down-to-earth and simple form and the sharp sound during it manifests a primitive taste. In essence, the opera is not in the style of folk music but in modernism.

Czech Republic is the country of importance along “the Belt and Road”. Choosing The Makropulos Case as the finale demonstrates that the theme of "the Belt and Road" has taken root in all sections of the arts festival. While bringing a refreshing audio-visual feast to the domestic audience, this opera can also raise their awareness towards Czechic culture and promote cultural exchanges and cooperation. 

It is also worth mentioning that “Student Arts Jury”, initiated in this year, has attended the lecture delivered by the playwright from Janáček Opera of the National Theatre Brno. They were impressed and relished her wonderful interpretation of Janáček's artistic world and the unique charm of The Makropulos Case.