Janáček’s final opera to be performed in an authentic version for the first time

20 February 2017

First page of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead.
Hand drawn stave lines and orchestration from the first page of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead.

Welsh National Opera’s new season announcement includes premiere of Janáček’s From the House of the Dead

Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, edited by Honorary Professor John Tyrrell, will this year be performed for the first time in a version as close as possible to what the composer intended. The performance forms part of Welsh National Opera's Russian-themed autumn season.

John Tyrrell writes: “The opera is problematic in that Janáček did not live to see it into performance. The work was so different from his previous operas in its often chamber-like orchestra and its lack of a climactic ending (as in his two previous operas The Makropulos Affair and The Cunning Little Vixen) that his pupils took it upon themselves to ‘revise’ it for its première in Brno in 1930, reorchestrating it, making changes to the text and, most notoriously, giving it a happy ending.

“In my work on the opera with Sir Charles Mackerras we have gradually stripped away the foreign accretions. The completed version, which sadly comes after Sir Charles's death, represents the final stage of this process and will receive its world premiere in Cardiff before other productions planned for 2018 in Munich, Hamburg and Brno.”

Tyrrell’s previous collaboration with Mackerras was their authentic edition of Janáček’s opera Jenůfa, extensively performed throughout the world since its publication in 1996 and which supplanted the extensively revised and reorchestrated version, performed for the previous eighty years.

Professor Tyrrell is the author of the many books on Janáček, including the most substantial biography of the composer in any language, Janáček: Years of a Life, of which the first volume which will be published in Czech in 2018.

From the House of the Dead will be directed by David Pountney and conducted by Tomáš Hanus. The cast features Robert Hayward, Mark Le Brocq, Adrian Thompson and Simon Bailey.

Welsh National Opera’s (WNO) 2017 season is part of R17 - a cultural reflection on the centenary of the Russian Revolution and a broad retrospective of Russia’s extraordinary cultural legacy involving arts organisations across Wales.

The full WNO new season was announced on Tuesday 7 February.