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For other uses, see Julietta (disambiguation).

Julietta is an opera by Bohuslav Martinů, who also wrote the libretto, in French, based on the play Juliette, ou La clé des songes (Juliette, or The Key of Dreams) by the French author Georges Neveux. A libretto in Czech was later prepared. There are two principal roles: Julietta (soprano) and Michel (tenor).

The opera received its first performance at the National Theatre, Prague on 16 March 1938, with Ota Horaková in the title role and Václav Talich conducting.

James Helmes Sutcliffe remarked in Opera News[1] on "Martinů's beautiful score" and on his "lyrical, atmospheric music".

Hindle and Godsil have published a psychoanalytical study of the opera and analysed the work in the context of Martinů's life.[2]

Performance history[edit]

The UK premiere was given in April 1978 in London by the New Opera Company, in an English translation.[3] A production by the Bielefeld Opera in Germany conducted by Geoffrey Moull received eight performances in 1992.

While modern performances have been relatively rare, The Guardian notes performances[4] by Opera North in 1997, and a production by Richard Jones in Paris in 2002 which was revived by English National Opera in London in September/October 2012 to enthusiastic reviews overall.[4] Germany's Theater Bremen stages a new production opening on March 29th, 2014 under the direction of John Fulljames.[5] Andreas Homoki and Fabio Luisi staged a new production at Opernhaus Zürich with Joseph Kaiser as Michel in 2015.

Orchestral Suite[edit]

Martinů began to prepare a concert work from the opera, "Three Fragments from Julietta", with changes to the original vocal lines, after the opera's premiere, after his return to Paris. However, the outbreak of World War II interrupted his work, and his own labours on this composition continued until his death in 1959. The score was lost after Martinů's death, until 2002, when Aleš Březina discovered the piano reduction of the score among a private collection of papers. After Březina returned to Prague to have this adapted into a full orchestral score, the Czech publishing firm DILIA revealed that a full score already existed in their archives.[6] Sir Charles Mackerras conducted the world premiere of the "Three Fragments from Julietta" with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in December 2008.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 16 March 1938
(Conductor: Václav Talich)
Julietta soprano Ota Horáková
Michel tenor Jaroslav Gleich
Small Arab mezzo-soprano Marie Podvalová
Old Arab bass Ludek Mandaus
Woman selling poultry mezzo-soprano Marie Podvalová
Man in fur cap bass Ludek Mandaus
Man in helmet baritone Jan Konstantin
Police officer tenor
Old man bass
Grandfather bass Ludek Mandaus
Grandmother contralto
Fortune teller contralto
Seller of memories bass-baritone Jan Konstantin
First gentleman soprano
Second gentleman soprano Marie Podvalová
Third gentleman soprano


Michel is a traveling salesman who stumbles across a seaside city where none of the residents remember their past. Michel is trying to find a woman whose voice he once heard in the wilderness. After his arrival in the town, he is elected to lead the town. He eventually does find the woman, named Julietta. However, it is not clear whether she is real or a product of his imagination. Eventually, Michel is provoked into shooting Julietta, but because of the ambiguity of the situation, it is not certain if she is dead. Later, at the "Central Office of Dreams", Michel is warned that if he does not wake up to escape the dream, he will be imprisoned in the dream-world forever. At the end of the opera, where the residents again go about their business oblivious to immediate past events, Michel remains in the dream-world.




  1. ^ Metropolitan Opera's website
  2. ^ Debbie Hindle, Susie Godsil; Godsil, Susie (2006). "The song of the siren: Some thoughts on idealization and creativity in Martinů's Julietta". International Journal of Psychoanalysis 87 (4): 1087–1102. doi:10.1516/BB2H-BQXY-GEWW-88YW. Retrieved 29 November 2007. 
  3. ^ Crichton, Ronald, "First Performances: Julietta" (June 1978). Tempo (New Ser.), 125: pp. 26–27.
  4. ^ a b Andrew Clements, "Julietta – opera review", The Guardian (London), 18 September 2012
  5. ^ [1] Theater Bremen
  6. ^ Frank Kuznik (11 December 2008). "A historic start for the Martinů year". The Prague Post. Retrieved 6 March 2009.