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Story of Act II
We are back-stage
in a big theatre: a charwoman is sweeping
the stage which is in a disorderly state after
the previous nightís performance. At one side
is a heap of discarded bouquets: in the foreground
there is a stage throne on a platform, presumably
used in the production of last nightís opera.
battens are lowered and a stagehand is working
on them. As they work, the charwoman and the
stagehand chatter away about the fantastic
success of the prima-donna Marty; people shouting
at the tops of their voices, applauding like
mad, showering bouquets on her. Never in the
entire history of the theatre has there been
anything to equal it. She must be making money
hand over fist he remarks: she has the voice
of an angel, says the charwoman with enthusiasm.
in evening dress asking for Marty. The charwoman
tells him that she is with the director in
his room, but is bound to be out soon. Prus
says he will wait. In an aside to the mechanic
the charwoman remarks that this will be the
fifth one queuing up to meet the great singer.
The mechanic speculates as to whether such
a woman could have an affair like an ordinary
person. "You bet your life she does",
replies the charwoman, adding tartly "but
she would draw the line at a stagehand!"
followed by Janek, Prusís son, who has been
in love with Kristina for the past year. He
tries to kiss her but she tells him there
must be no more love-making between them:
with Martyís wonderful example as her inspiration
she intends to devote all her time and energy
to her art. She will, however, see him once
a day: for the rest of the time they must
be strangers to each other. Janek is piqued.
She tells him not to be silly, but to come
and sit beside her on the throne: when Janek
steals a kiss she pushes him away.
has been overlooked by Janekís father, who-waiting
for Marty-thinks it is about time he should
make his presence known. He comes forward
from the shade, to the embarrassment of the
the following scene which begins lightly enough
with Prus humorously interrogating Kristina,
but takes a rather ugly twist when the father
asks his son to shake hands with him and then
squeezes his sonís hand so hard that Janek
yelps with pain-a contributory cause to Janekís
tragic death in Act III.
is heard from the wings thanking some admirers
for their compliments: a moment later she
appears, rather flustered: exclaims "Oh,
no, not another one! "when she sees Prus
waiting for her. He quickly reassures her
that he is here strictly on business. Marty
slouches down on the throne and asks Prus
if the boy is his son.
yourself, Janek. Let me see you. Did you hear
me sing? Did you like my performance?"
to which Janek can only just stammer out a
hesitant "Yes". Marty tells Prus
that he has a fool for a son; Prus agrees.
eagerly and hands a bouquet to Marty who instantly
detects hidden in it a box containing jewellery.
She smells the flowers, casually throws them
on the heap among the other bouquets and sternly
returns the jewel-box to Gregor, telling him
that he is in no position to waste his money
on such extravagance.
her handbag, she takes out a handful of bank
notes and, to Gregorís indignation, offers
them to him. Her remark, "Take this or
Iíll give you a good shaking!", does not make
matters any easier for the greatly affronted
tells him not to make a scene, so snatching
the money from her, Gregor hands it to the
clerk, Vítek, who has followed him on stage,
telling him to deposit the money to Miss Martyís
account. Turning to the clerk, Marty asks
Vítek what he thought of her performance.
Vítek replies enthusiastically that she was
as good as the great Strada. At this Marty
flares up: "What! Compare ME to Strada!
Strada was a ghastly fake." Vítek attempts
to cover up his faux pas by saying that according
to history books ... when Marty impatiently
interrupts: "Let me tell you something-history
books arc full of lies. I will tell you about
these famous singers: Strada made whistling
noises and Corrona had a plum in her throat!
Agujari was a goose and Faustino breathed
like a pair of bellows! So much for your history
omitted this amusing speech in his libretto,
but an enterprising producer might effectively
insert it parlante by making a break in the
music after the fourth bar in : it would
be welcomed, for there are very few laughs
in The Makropulos Case to justify Čapekís
calling it a "comedy".
smarting under Martyís rebuff of a minute
ago, asks her sarcastically if she would like
him to bring more people along so that she
can be rude to them. Marty tells him not to
worry about that-they will be along soon enough
on their own account. Seeing Kristina and
Janek about to sneak quietly away, Marty bursts
out laughing and asks them, with disarming
candour, if they have been to bed together.
Vítek is outraged at the suggestion and asks
his daughter angrily if there is any truth
in what she says.
Marty is amused
at the general embarrassment, tells Kristina
not to be a silly girl-if it hasnít happened
yet, it will ... "And it isnít worth
while, I can assure you."
is worth while then?" interjects Prus,
to which the three-century-old prima-donna
replies with infinite weariness . . . "Nothing
. . . nothing at all!"
scene takes a bizarre turn with the arrival
of a new and important character. This is
the senile Austrian and one-time dandy, the
Count Hauk-Šendorf, who was one of Martyís
innumerable lovers fifty years ago when she
went under the name of Eugenia Montez. Hauk
had attended the previous nightís performance
and was immediately struck by the resemblance
between Emilia Marty and the singer he once
knew as Eugenia Montez He kneels down in front
of the throne, vaguely offers her flowers
and idiotically sobs out that she is the very
image of his former sweetheart.
When the sentimental
old fellow, with tears streaming down his
cheeks, talks about the Spanish gypsy girl
with whom every man was madly in love and
for whom he sacrificed wealth and position,
she at once recognizes him, offers her cheek
to be kissed and soon they are talking intimately
together in Spanish. After bowing formally
to Prus, Hauk-Šendorf makes a cringing withdrawal.
The onlookers do not quite know what to make
of the scene.
wearily on to the couch but recovers sufficiently
to autograph a photograph of herself and a
programme for Kristina. She cannot help noticing,
too, that Janek has been staring at her with
sheepís eyes for some time. "What is
your son dumbstruck about?" she asks,
then begs them all to go away and leave her
alone. The infatuated Gregor is reluctant
to do so, but after Marty has told him, "Bertik,
darling, you must come back later", he
bows coldly to Prus who still remains on stage
and goes out.
By this time
we have learned that no man apparently can
resist the overpoweringly sexual attractions
of this ageless and shockingly amorous woman.
As soon as he is alone with her, Prusís first
questions to Marty disclose that he too has
fallen under her spell. Does this Gregor mean
anything to her? Is it of importance to her
that he should win this case? To both questions
Marty gives an emphatic "No". So,
after this clarification of personal relationships,
Prus refers to the sealed will whose contents
she knew in advance, to the scandalously erotic
love-letters written by Ellian MacGregor to
his grandfather, and to a certain sealed envelope
in the handwriting of Baron Prus, on which
is written: "To be handed to my son,
Ferdinand." This envelope, we will shortly
learn, contains the Makropulos Secret of Longevity.
that her increased life span is rapidly running
out and that it is of vital importance to
her that at the earliest possible moment she
should receive a second dose of this elixir
of life. She begs Prus to give her the envelope.
The astute Prus has noticed that all the women
in the case bear the initials E. M.-Emilia
Marty, the great prima donna, Ellian Makropulos,
a Greek woman of Crete, Ellian MacGregor,
a Scottish girl and Eugenia Montez, a Spanish
gypsy. He is highly suspicious but, as yet,
his suspicions are too vague to be formulated.
has sharply rejected her request that he should
sell her the sealed envelope, Marty sits motionless
with closed eyes. Prus leaves. A moment later
Gregor enters and again declares his wild,
mad, passionate love for Marty. She treats
him vilely, casually, but even her mockery
and her insults give him pleasure. "You
are cruel, terrible, cold as ice, like someone
out of the grave, devoid of all feeling",
he continues feverishly-"One day I will
strangle you!" Marty tells him not to
be such a fool.
to a scar on her throat-that was given her
by another man who wanted to kill her: if
she stripped herself naked he would see lots
of other souvenirs of that sort. Was her body,
perhaps, just made for target practice? Gregorís
only reply is that he loves her, that no one
ever loved her so much as he does. But Marty
has been through this so many times before-if
men only knew how ridiculous they are-how
little she cares one way or the other. She
is so tired of it all, so very tired, and
before the eyes of the astonished Gregor she
falls asleep. At first Gregor thinks she is
making a fool of him but the charwoman, entering
at that moment, assures him that she really
for a few moments Marty awakens as suddenly
as she fell asleep and finds the youthful
Janek gazing at her passionately. So, son
as well as father has fallen in love with
her! Having failed to persuade the father
to give her the sealed envelope she so urgently
needs, Marty thinks the son perhaps will prove
more amenable. She tells him that it would
be an act of great kindness if he could find
this envelope and bring it to her. She puts
her arms around him and coaxes him into giving
her his promise.
suddenly from the shadows telling his son
sharply that this will not be necessary. The
boy is covered with embarrassment. His father
dismisses him curtly, exclaiming to Marty
that he thought the young rascal was running
after Kristina, whereas it seems . . .!
Marty is now
utterly desperate. She steps close up to Prus,
puts her arms lovingly on his shoulders and
turns on him the full strength of her magnificent
attractions. "You will do this for me?
You will bring the envelope, wonít you?"
she says in her most seductive voice. After
an inner struggle Prus agrees and passionately
kisses her shoulders. From his "And when?
"and her "This evening", we
understand that an assignation has been arranged.
of Act II
about fourteen different themes up to the
entrance of Hauk-Šendorf where the music takes
on an entirely different character; the number
of themes depends on whether the student gives
or does not give a new number to a derivative
or variation motif. Either way, the first
twenty-seven pages of this act are particularly
rich in thematic material. The music begins
with two chords alternating in an easy swaying
serves as a background to the gossip between
the charwoman and the mechanic. When Prus
arrives to take his place in the queue of
gentlemen waiting to pay court to Marty, the
music becomes frivolous +4; the speech
curve of the last sentence of the charwoman
"Vis, pro tebe to neni" ("Itís none
of your business") is anticipated in the orchestra
-2, carrying into a playful 7/8 exit phrase,
on clarinet and bassoon, as the charwoman
crosses to the other side of the stage.
For the scene
between the adolescent lovers, Janáček alternates
two contrasted motifs, the sentimental No.
55 and its offshoots,
and the kittenish
the wood of the bow, bouncing on strings.
speculates about Martyís love affairs, the
orchestra gives out the easily flowing No.
by an enquiring two-note figure) which-without
the repeated notes-accompanies the entrance
and opening speeches of the irrepressible
subtle variants of No. 57 are heard when she
light-heartedly interrogates the love-struck
Janek: in notes of much shorter value it expresses
her and Prusís irritation at Janekís gaucheness.
music accompanies Martyís annoyance at Gregorís
unwanted and extravagant present to her. It
is Vítekís intention to flatter Marty by comparing
her singing with the historic diva Strada.
Her instant reaction "Vy jste slysvel
Strada?" ("You heard Strada?")
is a speech curve which again is anticipated
in the orchestra and continues through this
spiteful little episode where Marty shouts
down her rivals.
A love motif
appears at  alternating with the chromatic
laughing figure as Marty teases Kristina and
her young admirer. The scene between the feeble-minded
Hauk-Šendorf and the woman he knew and loved
as the gypsy, Eugenia Montez, half a century
earlier, is based on two rhythmic units and
two quasi-gypsy themes.
with a rush to the whirlwind No. 59
sobs to the
pulsating No. 60
part which generates the first waltz-like
(see No. 60
(A)) and at , , , , .
gypsy theme, complete with castanet accompaniment,
appears at  on a solo clarinet, as Hauk-Šendorf
speaks wistfully about the "chula negra"
he knew in Andalusia.
At  it
is lengthened from 3 + 3 to 5 + 5 bars. The
senility of the old chap is expressed in a
rapid descending sequence of unrelated major
triads (see ). All four motifs appear
in the recognition scene (pp. 101-3) when
Marty and Hauk-Šendorf have an affectionate
reunion after half a century. The swinging
No. 57 reappears as Marty autographs her photograph
A tiny six-note
motif-vividly expressing surprise and incredulity-punctuates
Prusís speech when he tells her how utterly
amazed he is at Martyís accurate foreknowledge
of secret documents unknown to him hidden
away in his own house: a fade-out on a feminine
into the jerky little figure at , No.
a variety of metamorphoses-expresses
indignation at the slurs cast by Prus on her
virtue as Ellian MacGregor ,
surprise at her defence of a wanton supposedly
dead for the best part of a century ,
(c) the erotic
passages in Ellianís love-letters .
associated with the vocalization of the name
"Ellian MacGregor" (Act I, No. 46)
dominates the second half of the Prus-Marty
scene (pp. 112-16). The music becomes intensely
serious for a moment when the distraught Marty
begs Prus to sell her the envelope which she
knows contains the secret prescription which
alone can prolong her life . Prusís indignation
is expressed ill the whiplash Scotch-snaps
at , and he goes off gloomily to suitable
No. 64 is
of some importance in the ensuing scene between
the infatuated Gregor and the oh-so-bored
its odd rhythm
gives rise to a number of different shapes
, ,  + 1, . A steady crotchet
movement begins at one bar after  increasing
to triplets as Gregor becomes very excited:
a rhapsodic interlude follows as Marty gives
Gregor some good legal advice.
It is as well
to remind ourselves that we are witnessing
a great-great-grandson making love to this
great-great-grandmother! Although actual themes
are not interchanged (compare, however, rhythm
of Act I at  with Act II at ), this
the second love scene between Marty and Gregor
in character and general style is very much
like a continuation of the Act I duet. A wild
Presto at  is effectively contrasted
with the soaring love theme at , under
which the viola díamore (which we remember
from the previous act was associated with
Marty) has a conjunct figure as counterpoint.
Gregor, infatuated with Marty, gets a rude
shock when he finds that his impassioned lovemaking
has only a soporific effect on her.
onwards ostinato figures similar to the opening
bars of the Overture have made their appearance
in the orchestra. These continue in the ensuing
scene between the almost hypnotized Janek
and Marty (see  then four bars before
 up to ), combined and contrasted
with short lyrical passages of great feeling
(2nd and 3rd bars after , p. 130: ,
 to ). An exciting dual motif appears
at [1361 representing, as it were, the struggle
between duty and lust which is going on in
As Marty brings
all her persuasive powers to play on Prus
we hear this motif of evil ((A) of No. 65)
powerfully declaimed on trombones, tuba, double-basses
and timpani. One of the most unforgettable
moments in the opera is contained in the last
twenty-eight bars in this act. As Prus battles
with his conscience we hear the motif of evil
thrice in a high octave presentation, ending
with an unexpected flourish of surrender:
Martyís fascination has won him completely
over to her side.
us the dual theme (plus the arpeggi flourish)
with the lust motif riding triumphantly on
to F three times in sequences, finally soaring
like a hot flame o desire up to the highest
register of the violins, ending in a blazing
chord of C major.
Chapter 2: page
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