Musical Delicacies

— Early Music Concert Series —

E. M. — tears of Elina Makropulos (1585–1922)

Scenic composition for soprano, lute and solo dance inspired by Karel Čapek’s theatre play The Makropulos Case (1922).

Tuesday 23 February 2016 19:30 — Mendel’s refectory, Augustinian Abbey (Mendel Museum), Mendlovo náměstí 1a, 603 00 Brno, Czech Republic  (Wheelchair accessible) .
(The entrance is across the street from the tram stops, a narrow gateway in the whitewashed monastery wall, see map.)

Performers:

Programme

Ivana Loudová (*1941) Canto meditativo
John Dowland (1563 – 1626) Flow my tears
John Dowland (1563 – 1626) Melancholy galiard
Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643) Si dolce el’tormento
Giovanni Giacomo Gastoldi (cca. 1554 – 1609) A lieta vita
Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695) Sweeter than roses
Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695) Dear pretty youth
Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695) Not all my torments
Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695) Evening hymn
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791) Un moto di gioia   (Le Nozze di Figaro)
Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856) Seit ich ihn gesehen   (Frauenliebe und Leben, op. 42, no. 1)
Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856) Er, der Herrlichste von allen   (ibid., no. 2)
Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856) An meinem Herzen, an meiner Brust   (ibid., no. 7)
Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856) Nun hast du mir den ersten Schmerz getan   (ibid., no. 8)
Kurt Weill (1900 – 1950) Youkali   (Tango habanera)
Arvo Pärt (*1935) Vater Unser

►►►  Song texts.

About the programme

The life story and personal drama of the heroine of Karel Čapek’s (1890–1938) play The Makropulos Case (1922) became a major inspiration for this scenic composition for soprano, lute and solo dance. Based on the well-known tale of the mysterious “Makropulos Affair” and the ensuing immortality, the music changes over time, as the imaginary thread unfolds of a life prolonged for more than 300 years. Therefore, you will hear songs from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, as well as music of the 20th century. On a more general level, E. M.’s tale captures essential fateful moments in the live of a women, as well as the subtle tremors of her soul.

Elina Makropulos is at the beginning of the story a sixteen year old girl who is forced by her father, an alchemist at the court of Rudolf II, to try on herself his recipe for prolonging life, the elixir of youth. After a week of feverish agitation between life and death, life prevails and Elina begins to experience the fruits of immortality. She becomes a respected singer, men revolve around her, and she experiences fame and fortune. But she also is experiencing hardships and more and more losses of those whom she loved, and whom she must always survive. She migrates from country to country and changes her name, in order to avoid causing concern that she does not age. Her fame increases, and so does her inner emptiness. Finally she hates everything and everyone. The only thing holding her to live is her terrifying fear of death. After the public revelation of her secret at the end of the story, she realizes that she does not really want to live this way, and after more than 300 years, she does not take the potion that renews her life, and dies reconciled.

This story is a challenge, both for the director and the performers, because it captures a variety of expressions in a succession of totally different historical epochs, which Elina Makropulos and later Ellian MacGregor and Emilia Marty pass through. In this staging, you do not hear the spoken word; everything belongs to the music, singing, dancing, costumes and transformations of light.


Synopsis

I.  Renaissance

Elina Makropulos’ father, an alchemist of Emperor Rudolf II, tries out on her own body the formula known as “The Makropulos Case”. She is taken on this dangerous experiment, for a week she is torn between life and death with fever and excruciating pain. The experiment, however, succeeds, and the girl is given a life of 300 years. She enjoys a new, exhilarating feeling of a youth filled with beauty.

II.  Baroque

Of Elina has become a famous singer. As everyone around her are aging and she remains young, she gradually changes her country of residence and her name. The initials E. M. are the only thing she always kept. Glory, pride and the sense of invincibility have changed her. Flirting with men, she cheekily plays with them, capriciously and cold. For the first time she experiences the other side of the coin of “immortality”. With her closest friends long dead, she feels a deep loneliness and begins to blame her father for his act.

III.  Classicism

Elina Makropulos is the sovereign of the theater stage, this is her real life, everything else is in ruins. Playing and hypocrisy. She experiences emptiness and boredom.

IV.  Romanticism

Elina meets a fateful man, a true love. Her life takes on meaning again, but not for long. Time is merciless towards all mortals except Elina, already now it is always her enemy. She outlives her child; her lover, whom she confided her secret to and gave him “The Makropulos Case”, did not survive the week of fever and pain.

V.  The year 1922

The end, cynicism, fear. What should she do? Elina feels that her strength is dwindling, her endless 300 years are over. Necessarily she has to regain “The Makropulos Case”. But does she really want to go on living? This terrible emptiness and loneliness, — she no longer feels anything, nothing at all. Just the terrible fear of death drives her forward. Eventually, however, comes the reconciliation and Elina voluntarily surrenders “The Makropulos Affair”. Her soul will finally come to a rest.


Gabriela Eibenová

Soprano Gabriela Eibenová has, after graduating from the Prague Conservatory and studying in London, been focusing primarily on concert activities and interpretation of Early Music. She performs at prestigious music festivals throughout Europe (Prague Spring, Smetana Litomyšl, Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht, MAfestival Bruges, Bach Festival Riga, Festival Internacional de Santander, Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music London) and has appeared in Israel and Japan. In 2000, she and the conductor and organist Adam Viktora founded the vocal-instrumental Ensemble Inégal, with the music of Jan Dismas Zelenka as its main theme. Their CD recordings repeatedly won prizes of prestigious international music critics (Gramophone Diapason d’Or, International Record Review IRR Outstanding, Goldberg Magazine 5 Stars)

Andrea Miltnerova

British dancer and choreographer of Czech origin, who lives in Prague. In addition to her contemporary dance creations, Andrea specialises in baroque dance and its creative fusion with other techniques. She was born and trained in London and came to Prague to dance with the Ballet of the National Theatre. She also collaborates as a performer with various Czech and foreign choreographers.

Her contemporary dance solo Dance of the Magnetic Ballerina was selected by the prestigious European network Aerowaves as one of their priority performances and has been successfully presented at numerous festivals and theatres throughout Europe for example in England, Scotland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Romania and Finland.

Her deep interest in the baroque led her to collaborate on the reconstruction of baroque operas and to create her own performances based on movement analysis and ethnochoreographic research, for example The Baroque Body Revealed, Pentimento and Vertical Horizontal. She has worked as a director, choreographer and dancer with the early music ensembles Collegium 1704 and Collegium Marianum. She has danced in baroque operas at the National Theatre Prague, at the baroque Castle Theatre in Český Krumlov, and in festivals in Germany, Slovenia and Hungary. She is currently working with the French choreographer Françoise Denieau, performing in her productions throughout France, including Paris (Opéra Comique) and Versailles (Opéra Royale), in Luxembourg, Switzerland (Lausanne), London (The Barbican) and Moscow (Bolshoi).

Jan Čižmář

Jan Čižmář is a versatile performer focusing on historical plucked instruments. He performs regularly in Europe, Asia and the USA with ensembles such as Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Capella Cracoviensis, and under conductors such as Frans Brüggen, Christopher Hogwood, Giovanni Antonini, Yannick Nézet–Séguin and Christina Pluhar. He appears also as soloist with of baroque and renaissance repertoire.

After graduation in guitar and musicology in his native Brno he studied at the Royal College of Music in London, where he began playing the lute in the class of Jakob Lindberg. He continued his studies at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague with the teachers Nigel North, Joachim Held, Mike Fentross and Christina Pluhar.

He was the founder and editor of the Czech guitar magazine Kytara and contributes regularly to other musical periodicals. He is also intensely involved with publishing and research activities in the field of early music.

Jan Čižmář taught lute and related instruments at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice in Poland; currently he is teaching at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno and at the Academy of Ancient Music at Masaryk University in Brno. He regularly gives courses and masterclasses in Europe and overseas.

Magdalena Švecová

Magdalena Švecová (stage director) initially studied violin at the conservatories in České Budějovice (Budweis) and in Prague and at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. In 2004 she graduated in opera direction under Alena Vaňáková, Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno (JAMU).

JAMU Chamber Opera saw for instance her productions of Milhaud’s L’abandon d’Ariane and Délivrance de Thésée, Markéta Dvořáková’s opera Žirafí, Leoš Janáček’s The Beginning of a Romance and his ballet Rákós Rákoczy (première within the International Festival Janáček Brno 2004). Other productions include Jaroslav Krček’s electroacoustical opera Raab The Harlot (2003) and Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale (2005), which was the opening performance of the renovated Reduta theatre in Brno.

For the Josef Kajetán Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, she directed Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (2005), Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (2007), Dvořák’s The Jacobin (2010) and Krček’s opera Šaty, jaké svět neviděl (2014). For the National Theatre in Prague she created a new form of Smetana’s opera The Bartered Bride.

As part of the Smetana Litomyšl festival in 2012 and 2013, she staged the baroque opera The Fairy Queen by Henry Purcell, and this year she performed J.-P. Rameau’s act de ballet Pigmalion. She is also devoted to teaching activities, specialized in stage movement within the musical drama genre.

Foto: Jan Komárek

Jan Komárek

Jan Komárek is light designer and author of independent alternative projects mostly in the realm of nonverbal theatre, movement theatre and dance. After graduating in graphic design in publicity at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, he tried different jobs to emigrate to France in 1983. There he founded MIMO theatre and worked as a clown and puppeteer.

After two years he left for Canada: He worked as a light designer in Toronto and Montreal and founded the Sound Image Theatre, an authorial movement theatre working with live music. He was awarded the prestigious Dora Mavor Moore prize a number of times: for the best piece, the best music, design, and direction.

Foto: Christopher Vinz

In 2001, he returned to Prague. He works as a light designer, regularly co-working with dance company NANOHACH and Theatre Na Peroně in Košice (SK). He has also been creating his own movement and dance projects, among them: Dance of the Paper Dancers, Crime and Punishment, Probouzení Genia loci, Útroby krávy or Kampa sonata (created for Prague Quadrennial 2011). In 2009, he was awarded the “Theatre Personality of the Year” award within the Next Wave festival, and one year later, he received the Best Light Design prize within the TANEC PRAHA festival.

Christopher Vinz

Christopher Vinz (costumes) is a sculptor, painter, illustrator and stage designer. He is a member of the Association of Medallists, his works have been exhibited in Prague, Brno and in galleries across the Czech Republic, as well as in London and Vienna. He began his theatre career working with costumes for Kent Opera, directed by Roger Norrington, and for regional theatres and the BBC. As a scenic artist he was involved with many productions for major London theatres including the English National Opera, Covent Garden and the Glyndebourne Festival. He was particularly pleased of his association with the well known Players’ Theatre annual Victorian Christmas “pantomimes”. As a costume designer he participated in operas of Collegium Marianum and of Collegium 1704 for the baroque theatre in Český Krumlov, on several projects with Andrea Miltnerova, and on musical and theatrical productions in Edinburgh and Istanbul.


Thank you

The concert takes place with financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Statutory City of Brno, and in cooperation with Ensemble Inégal, z. s.

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