Musical Delicacies

— Early Music Concert Series —

250 Kč / 150 Kč / 90 Kč

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).

Monday 12 November 2018 19:30  &
Tuesday 13 November 2018 19:30 — Hallway, Museum of Applied Arts, Husova 14, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic  (Wheelchair accessible) .


Review: Magazine Harmonie, 20.11.2018: “A musical journey in time with the Tears of Elina Makropulos” (Marta Tužilová, in Czech).
Review: Opera Plus, 18.12.2018: “Tears of Elina Makropulos” (Helena Havlíková, in Czech).


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.


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)

Lenka Kniha Bartůňková

Lenka Kniha Bartůňková studied dance at the Duncan Centre in Prague and at the Folkwang-Hochschule in Germany. In 2008, she attended classes at La Caldera dance centre in Barcelona and created choreographies at the artistic centre Àrea Tangent. In 2005, she won the first prize in the Jarmila Jeřábková choreographic competition; in 2008, she received the main prize for emerging dancers at the Sazka (Czech lottery) choreographic competition with the choreography Knihovna; and she represented the Czech Republic at the EXPO 2010 international exhibition in Shanghai.

She worked in Spain with the Catalan choreographer Robert Olivan. She has collaborated with choreographers and artists such as Lorca Renoux, Samir Akika, La Fura dels Baus, Norbert Steinwartz, Ioana Mona Popovich, Chikako Kaido and Marcus Michalowsky. She performs with the German ensemble Renegade Theatre, which endeavours to link contemporary and street dance, break dance and visual art, and with which she performs at festivals around the world.

Lenka Bartůňková works as a dancer, pedagogue and choreographer; she is engaged in the production of dance films and is the founder of the FARO association, which links dance, theatre, music and visual art. She also organizes educational programmes (seminars, workshops).

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.

Přemysl Janda

Přemysl Janda began as a designer for light commercials and shop lighting. After two years, he left this and joined the Estates Theatre (Prague) in the middle of 2002, where after three years of experience he became a light designer.

During his time he worked with many prominent directors, stage designers and light designers; for example, with Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann, Hartmut Schörghofer, Joel Lauwers, Etienne Pluss, Guy Roberts, Ivan Rajmont, Michael Dočekal, Daniel Špinar, Daniel Tesar, Robert Wilson, A. J. Weissbard, David Radok.

Foto: Christopher Vinz

He created light design in the aforementioned Estates Theatre, but also on the New Stage; outside the National Theatre scene at the Mahen Theatre (Brno), at Théâtre La Monnaie / De Munt in Brussels, Théâtre de Caen – Opera House, Opéra de Dijon, Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, the New Opera of the Slovak National Theatre, Opéra de Lille, or Opéra Royal / Château de Versailles.

As a light designer, he emphasizes the functionality and dramaturgy of light design and the technically perfect design for the performance.

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 enjoys the auspices of the Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic Mgr. Daniel Herman and the Governor of the South Moravian Region JUDr. Bohumil Šimek.

The concert takes place with financial support from the Statutory City of Brno.

Logo of Ministry of Culture Jihomoravský kraj Logo Statutárního města Brna