we would like to cordially invite you all to the festival’s closing ceremony, which will be the performance Flames by Erwin Schulhoff. It was inspired by the work of Karel Josef Beneš and will be directed by Calixto Bieito. Flames will take place on 20 November at 19:00 at the Janáček Theatre.
The piece lies on the boundary between opera, pantomime and symphonic poem, and is more a series of ten loosely connected scenes than an opera. Don Juan is in love with Death, who is personified by the character of La Morte, the only woman he has never been able to seduce. He doesn’t go to hell for his actions, unlike Mozart´s Don Giovanni, but is doomed to forever live one part of his life over and over in a constantly recurring cycle in which he enters the dark house where the opera started, accompanied by the sound of a flute solo, to seduce yet another victim. This is observed from afar by six Shadows – women commenting on the plot and on Juan´s life like a Greek chorus.
The opera ends with the words of La Morte: Salvation is so distant – once again. At the time when the opera was created, neither Schulhoff nor Beneš knew that their fates would be similar: Beneš was sentenced to death for his participation in the anti-Nazi resistance, though the sentence was changed to imprisonment (1941-1945), while Schulhoff did not live to see the end of the war: as a Jewish artist, he was deported to the Wülzburg concentration camp in Bavaria, where he died of tuberculosis in August 1942.
Schulhoff’s Flames is a unique take on the form of the operatic genre and its message of the damnation of Don Juan through eternal life forms a parallel to Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair.
Click HERE for tickets.