The Makropulos Affair - WNO

The Makropulos Affair - WNO

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Posted 2022-09-21 by dpmfollow

Tue 08 Nov 2022

A classic opera revived by Welsh National Opera this autumn asks us whether immortality is a blessing or a curse. In Leoš Janá& #269 ;ek's The Makropulos Affair, Emilia Marty seems to have it all - she is successful, beautiful and adored by everyone. And yet Emilia, who has lived for three centuries, has realised her life is empty.



Being immortal may seem like a dream come true but, says Spanish soprano Ángeles Blancas Gulín, who plays Emilia Marty in the production which plays Birmingham Hippodrome on 8 November, her character gradually learns that life without love is meaningless. "Emilia Marty does a lot of things. She takes cocaine and she is smoking and drinking because she doesn't care," says Ángeles. "She does everything she wants, she says everything she wants to say. But for her, living 300 years has been hard because she has lost all kind of emotions and feelings. She doesn't feel anything now because she has had so many huge experiences in her life that she doesn't care anymore about it. She doesn't feel love, she doesn't feel pain, nothing. Nobody knows what it would really be like to be immortal, what someone can do, really do, when they are living for ever but also the cost. It would be so tough."

Czech composer Janá& #269 ;ek premiered The Makropulos Affair, which is based on a play of the same name by Czech dramatist Karel & #268 ;apek, in 1926. It was last performed by WNO in 1994 in a production by the company's former Artistic Director Sir David Pountney. Directed by Olivia Fuchs and conducted by WNO Music Director Tomáš Hanus, the new production is set in the 1920s and also features Nicky Spence, Gustáv Belá& #269 ;ek, David Stout, Harriet Eyley and Mark Le Brocq in the cast.

The Makropulos Affair is said to be partly inspired by Janá& #269 ;ek's unrequited passion for a married woman. Pouring his emotion into his work, Janá& #269 ;ek created one of the most dramatic and enigmatic female roles in opera in Emilia Marty. "It is an absolutely amazing part," says Ángeles. "Janá& #269 ;ek 's music really gets inside the story so you are always inside a real drama. Emilia is playing a role because she is the only one who really knows what is happening."

And she adds that her character is also a mystery. "Everyone is crazy about this woman but she knows everything they don't know and they are all asking 'how is this possible?' This is what makes the story very interesting – she is a really mysterious woman. When you play a part of someone that has a really deep life, a spiritual life, you can feel it. And with Emilia Marty it's like that. She is so strong, she has had 300 years of living so a lot of different experiences and it is something that people can smell – the energy. When you find somebody who has a different energy inside like this, it's irresistible."

Ángeles was born in Spain and made her debut in concert with Plácido Domingo. Since then she has performed roles in operas including Mozart's Magic Flute, Puccini's Tosca, Verdi's Aida and Monteverdi's Coronation of Poppea. And she has appeared in venues across the globe such as Liceu Opera in Barcelona, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Colón Theatre in Buenos Aires.



The Makropulos Affair forms the final part of a WNO Janá& #269 ;ek trilogy which has also included The Cunning Little Vixen and Jen& #367 ;fa. Under the baton of Brno-born Hanus, the company has gained an international reputation for its Janá& #269 ;ek works.

The story may be nearly 100 years old but Ángeles believes it has a very current message. "I think the opera is saying that we need to go to the really important things in life. There is a phrase of Emilia Marty's in which she says 'You are idiots because you don't understand how important it is just to live one life, a normal life, with the really important things'. If you link this to these days you see that human beings are in a moment where we are losing the important things. We don't care about anything that matters - there are wars and all the problems with the world but we are not looking at those things."

And she adds: "If this were a drama from today, Emilia Marty would say 'You are losing time, why are you doing all these things - watching Facebook, watching Instagram, watching videos, watching social media? You're crazy, what are you doing?' She really knows what is important because she has lived so many different kinds of experiences and at the end she says the thing which matters is only love."

And while she hopes the opera makes people think, Ángeles is also convinced they will fall in love with its story and score. "I think the audience is going to be very involved with the action of The Makropulos Affair. All of the cast are really good actors and in some ways, the audience are going to forget that they are watching singers, they will be involved in watching actors singing and telling a drama and a history with the addition of Janá& #269 ;ek's deeply emotional music."

The Makropulos Affair plays Birmingham Hippodrome on 8 November, alongside La Bohème on 9-11 November and Migrations on 12 November, see www.birminghamhippodrome.com for full details and tickets.

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!date 08/11/2022 -- 08/11/2022
%wnbirmingham
70755 - 2023-01-26 01:49:08

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