The Makropulos Case Welsh National Opera, Welsh National Opera Orchestra

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January 1970

Act 1
The Court battle concerning the inheritance affair between the Gregor and Prus families has been continuing for almost one hundred years, and today the Supreme Court is to give its final verdict. Albert Gregor, representing the plaintiff, arrives at the offices of his advocate Kolenatý, to ask for the verdict. He only finds the solicitor Vítek, however. Meanwhile, Vítek‘s daughter Kristina, a young beginner opera singer, arrives at the offices and enthuses about the famous and somewhat mysterious singer Emilia Marty. At that moment Marty appears at the doors to the office accompanied by the advocate Kolenatý. She has come to ask about the Gregor court case, and all those present are astounded by her knowledge of events that had taken place one hundred years previously, and also by the fact that she knew about the relationship between the long-dead Baron Prus and his mistress Ellian Macgregor. She even knew the exact place where the unknown documents were stored, including the will of Baron Prus. Kolenatý does not believe her, but under pressure from Albert Gregor he is forced to return to Prus’s house to search for the documents. After a while the advocate Kolenatý returns together with Gregor’s court rival, Jaroslav Prus. They arrive with the news that at the site that was indicated by Marty, they had indeed found some old, until then unknown, paperwork.

Act 2
In the wings of the theatre the staff are discussing the successful performance of the singer Emilia Marty. Two admirers are waiting for the singer here, amongst them Jaroslav Prus. His son Janek meets his sweetheart Kristina at the theatre. Kristina is completely fascinated by Marty and she also wants to become a famous artist. Marty arrives and received her admirers including Albert Gregor and the feeble-minded Hauk-Šendorf, who is reminded of his old flame Eugenia Montez by the singer. The tired Marty sends everybody away. Only Prus remains, who informs Marty about the secret mistress of his ancestor, the singer Ellen Macgregor, the mother of the Baron’s illegitimate child. In the register, however, she had been entered under a different name – Elina Makropulos. Marty is however interested in the secret envelope which is hidden amongst the other documents and which Prus refuses to hand over. Albert Gregor to tell her of his love, which is not returned, however. Janek has also fallen in love with Marty but he is too shy to say anything. Marty encourages him to obtain the secret envelope without his father‘s knowledge, but suddenly his father, Prus, enters, who says that she could have the envelope if she spends the night with him.

Act 3
Marty has fulfilled her side of the agreement and now she asks Prus for the promised envelope. She receives it, but Prus is not pleased –he did not expect such coldness from her. His servant is looking for him; he has some tragic news. Prus’s son Janek had committed suicide out of his love for Marty.  The confused Hauk enters with an offer of a joint elopement to Spain. Marty agrees to go with him, but at that moment Gregor, Kolenatý and Vítek arrive with Kristina. They have many questions: after Marty has signed a souvenir photograph for Kristina they discover that her signature is the same as that on the century-old documents. They urge Marty to such an extent that the singer starts to relate her unbelievable tale. Her real name is Elina Makropulos, and was the daughter of the Greek Hieronymous Makropulos who, as the personal physician to Emperor Rudolf II, had attempted to produce an elixir of youth. He tried it on his daughter, and she was now 337 years of age. Over the centuries she had changed her identity; amongst other names had used Ellian Macgregor, and had been the lover of Prus, and had also been the Spanish gypsy Eugenia Montez, who had known Hauk-Šendorf. Now she was posing as Emilia Marty and had become entangled in the in the affair because she was looking for the envelope with the recipe for the elixir of youth – the same envelope for which Jaroslav Prus had given to her in exchange for a night spent together. The elixir works for only three hundred years and, should Marty wish to live longer, she must drink another draught. However, she realises that she no longer enjoys life; she is tired and weary, and life had lost its meaning. She wants to die, and decides not to drink the new elixir. She gives the recipe to Kristina, and offers her everlasting youth, beauty and fame. The young girl burns the paper, however, and chooses instead a short, but meaningful life.

Program and cast

Production Team:

Director: Olivia Fuchs

Stage design: Nicola Turner


In the leading roles:

Albert Gregor: Nicky Spence

Dr. Kolenatý: Gustav Belacek

Baron Jaroslav Prus: David Stout

Janáček Theatre

Janáček Theatre is a theatre situated in the city of Brno, Czech Republic. It is a part of the National Theatre in Brno. It was built from 1960 to 1965, and opened in October 1965. During its existence, the theatre has premiered around 20 operas and ballet performances.




The building of Janáček Theatre, the youngest of the buildings of National Theatre in Brno, was planned from the early 20th century. From 1910 to 1957, seven architectural competitions were held to find the best design and project of the building. Around 150 architects participated in the competitions, among them several notable exponents of Czech arts and architecture: Bohuslav Fuchs, Josef Gočár, Vlastislav Hofman, Josef Chochol, Pavel Janák, Jan Kotěra and others. The proposed designs span a wide range of architectural styles documenting the history and development of the Czech architecture in the first half of the 20th century. The styles include historicism, Art Nouveau, Cubism, modernism, Functionalism, Socialist realism and classicising Neofunctionalism.

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