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Z mrtvého domu - From the House of the Dead (2008)

De la maison des morts (original title)


Stéphane Metge


Leos Janácek (libretto), Fyodor Dostoevsky (based on "Memoirs from the House of the Dead") (as F.M. Dostoevsky)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Olaf Bär Olaf Bär ... Alexander Petrovich Goryanchikov
Eric Stoklossa Eric Stoklossa ... Alyeya
Stefan Margita Stefan Margita ... Filka Morosov, imprisoned under the name of Luka Kuzmich
Peter Straka Peter Straka ... The tall prisoner
Vladimír Chmelo Vladimír Chmelo ... The short prisoner
Sulzenko Jiri Sulzenko Jiri ... The camp commandant
Heinz Zednik Heinz Zednik ... The old prisoner
John Mark Ainsley John Mark Ainsley ... Skuratov
Jan Galla Jan Galla ... Chekunov
Tomás Krejcirík Tomás Krejcirík ... The drunken prisoner
Martin Bárta Martin Bárta ... The cook
Vratislav Kriz Vratislav Kriz ... The priest
Olivier Dumait Olivier Dumait ... The young prisoner / a voice
Susannah Haberfeld Susannah Haberfeld ... A prostitute
Ales Jenis Ales Jenis ... The prisoner acting Don Juan and the Brahim


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Version of From the House of the Dead (1992) See more »

User Reviews

The epitome of musical drama
29 July 2019 | by wim-vorsterSee all my reviews

I'm acquainted with Leos Janáek's operas 'Jenufa' and 'The Little Vixen'. However, this is my first encounter with his 100 minute work based on Dostoevsky's 'Memoir From The House Of The Dead'.

The handful of people who read my reviews may complain that I only write raves. That's an accusation I gladly accept. From an early age I learned to be discerning - courtesy of my parents - and I have an instinct, a nose, for what could be good and what not. If I sound audacious, be that as it may. I won't waste time, space or energy on anything infra dig.

'From The House Of The Dead' is an experience. This production, conducted by the enigmatic Pierre Boulez and directed by Patrice Chéreau, is mind-blowing. Janácek's music is in itself ambrosia for the soul. Set in a Siberian prison it deals with the past and present of it's characters. It's a difficult opera to stage, mainly because it requires 17 male soloists and an enormous chorus. Only four women appear for a brief moment to stage a concert - which is never performed - and only one woman sings about four bars.

Prison life ipso facto implicates strong homoerotic undercurrents. Both Dostoevsky and Janácek are/were regarded as either latent homosexual or living it under highly secretive circumstances. In the two so-called pantomime scenes Thierry Thieû Niang's choreography (not dancing but highly stylised movements) the sexual tension is tangible. Moreover the (innocent) nobleman Gorjancikov asks young Alyeya: "Do you have a sister?" And continues: "She must be very beautiful if she looks like you." Henceforth the relationship is tender and mutually protective.

However, neither the libretto or the director focuses only on this aspect. A prison is fraught with danger. Anger. Aggression. And prisoners are stripped of all dignity. Incidentally, the one scene where they're stripped down to their naked bodies is not erotic at all. It's heart wrenching.

Leos Janácek's opera contains no pretty arias. It's durchkomponiert with some superb orchestral interludes which the director visually utilises. Conductor, orchestra, chorus and soloists, director, choreographer and designers make this an unforgettable unit.

Yes, I'm swooning. 10/10

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France | Japan



Release Date:

15 March 2008 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Aus einem Totenhaus See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Azor Films, ARTE, NHK See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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