In his last opera, Leoš Janáček set out to "penetrate the depths of humanity, with its most wretched people". On this occasion Janáček's interest in Russian literature led him to Dostoyevsky's novel "Notes from the House of the Dead", set in a Siberian prison. Janáček worked directly from the Russian original, which he himself translated and from which he selected individual passages, dialogues and monologues, writing them directly into the score. In the novel, Dostoyevsky recalls the harrowing experiences of his arrest and banishment to a katorga labour camp. In Janáček's work, the camp becomes a symbol of life: the music is existentially human, at once filled with both beauty and cruelty. The broad themes of his operatic output appear to culminate here: life and death, guilt and forgiveness.
With Janáček's last two operas, "The Makropulos Affair"
and "From a House of the Dead", the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden brings an as yet unprecedented and intriguing double bill to the stage. "To experience these two operas interwoven with each other is an exciting journey beneath the skin of human existence." – Director Nicolas Brieger
PREMIERE: 30 April 2023