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Welsh National Opera - Makropulos New Theatre, Oxford

By Nicola Boys

On Friday I had the great pleasure to end the term with an evening out to see the Welsh National Opera, gifted to That Oxford Girl by New Theatre (thank you!). The New Theatre is located on George Street, right in the city centre of Oxford and surrounded by wonderful places to eat and drink. It's red and gold gilded interior makes for quite an experience. 

The opera playing that evening was The Makropulos Affair, a three-act opera composed by Janacek which first ran in 1926, based on the play which premiered exactly 100 years ago in Prague in 1922.  The opera follows the mysterious Emilia Marty, an opera singer who charms all whom she encounters with her beauty and voice. Using these charms to her advantage, she aims to get a hold of documents tied up in a legal case concerning a settlement 10 years prior. Her knowledge of secrets concerned in the case arouse suspicion, and her identity is revealed over the course of the tragic third act, resulting in a dramatic closing scene. As the play closes, a moral lesson is revealed: life's meaning is granted by it's finiteness.

As a Czech myself,  I was overjoyed to learn it would be sung in its original language, but I can also say that the translated subtitles which ran across the screen suspended above were a very accurate translation, so no meaning is lost.

The set was magical, with added technical plot-twists adding meaning to the dramatic scores. The costuming replicated the 1920s, with long strands of pearls, flapper hats and tailcoats, bringing us back to Prague 100 years ago. Next time the opera returns to Oxford, I can say I shall surely go. It was truly a magical night!

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