What if you could live forever?
The enigmatic diva Emilia Marty looks younger than her years. The secret of her youth, a magical elixir of life taken centuries ago. For over 300 years she has lived many lives - moving across Europe, changing her name and breaking hearts along the way - as she chases a desire to be the greatest singer of all times. But as the elixir starts to wear off will she become desperate to find the recipe for her eternal youth?
Prepare to be engrossed in one of opera’s most thrilling mysteries as The Makropulos Affair leads us on a journey to reveal the real identity of this intriguing woman. Conducted by WNO’s Music Director Tomáš Hanus, Janáček´s intensely dramatic score only adds to the mystery, leaving you wondering whether immortality can really bring happiness, or is it just a curse?
The Daily Telegraph
an unmissable triumph for Welsh National Opera
Tomáš Hanus clearly has this music in his soul, and he inspired orchestral playing with a sharp tang, ferocious urgency and luminous tenderness
Explore behind the scenes
Order a programme
WNO’s new productions and new commissions are supported by the John Ellerman Foundation and ABP, WNO Leading Supporter. Supported by Harry Hyman and Melanie Meads. Music Director, Tomáš Hanus, is supported by Marian and Gordon Pell. The role of Kristina is supported by Colin and Sylvia Fletcher. Supported by WNO Janáček Circle and WNO Partners.
Cast & Creative
In the offices of lawyer Dr Kolenaty, his clerk Vitek is considering the century-old inheritance case of Gregor vs Prus. Albert Gregor arrives agitated as the outcome is expected today. Vitek’s daughter, Krista, who is singing a small role at the opera bursts in with news of the extraordinary Emilia Marty, a famous opera singer, who will appear on stage this evening.
As soon as Kolenaty arrives back from court Emilia Marty appears showing an interest in the Gregor vs Prus case. Kolenaty outlines the case for her – Joseph Ferdinand Prus has left his estate to a Ferdinand Gregor, a young boy at the time. He had verbally confirmed this to the principal of the boy’s school, but there was no written will. The inheritance was immediately contested by Ferdinand Prus’ cousin, Emmerich Prus Zabrze-Pinski, whose descendants now live on the lucrative estate of Loukov. It seems that the hotly contested inheritance case has now finally been judged in favour of the Prus family. However, Emilia Marty reveals that Ferdinand Gregor was ‘Pepi’ Prus’ illegitimate son, and she shares her uncanny knowledge of past events concerning Ellian MacGregor, Pepi’s mistress. She directs them to an unknown Will hidden in the desk of Jaroslav Prus, the present owner of the estate.
Kolenaty after some hesitation goes to find the will. Gregor, delighted and completely mesmerised by Marty, offers her the world. She asks him for an old document in Greek which she believes is kept with the Will. Kolenaty returns triumphant with Baron Prus in tow, who asks for a written document proving the fact that Ferdinand Gregor is really who Marty says he is. Marty promises the proof.
After a triumphant performance Emilia Marty’s admirers wait for her backstage with bouquets of flowers. Prus’ son, Janek, is Krista’s boyfriend, but he too is soon under Marty’s spell, together with Gregor, Jaroslav Prus, and the eccentric Count Hauk-Sendorf who claims Marty is the spitting image of his mistress Eugenia Montez some fifty years ago in Spain.
Vitek asks Marty to sign a photo for Krista, Gregor tries to buy Marty’s favours and Prus challenges her on her initials E M. which he claims might not only stand for Emilia Marty, but also Ellian MacGregor, or Elina Makropulos.
Once she has dismissed all the men Marty tries to persuade Janek to get the Greek document for her, but his father puts a stop to that and then agrees to bring Marty the Greek document himself, if she will spend the night with him.
Baron Prus has spent the night with Emilia Marty in her hotel room. He accuses her of being cold and unfeeling, but reluctantly gives her the document. They are interrupted with news of Janek’s death. Besotted with Marty, Janek has shot himself.
Kolenaty, Gregor, Vitek and Krista arrive and together with Prus interrogate Emilia Marty about her past, accusing her of forgery. Emilia Marty tells her story: she was born Elina Makropulos in 1585 and her father was a physician at the court of Rudolf II. The emperor wanted to stay young forever and demanded that Hieronymus Makropulos invent a potion to prolong life. When he had done so, the emperor insisted the potion was first tested on the 16-year-old Elina. Emilia/Elina has now lived for over 300 years changing her name and identity many times, but she always kept the initials E M. She needs to take the formula again to stay alive, but instead finally embraces her mortality. The formula is burnt and Emilia Marty dies.