Czech Lit by the Vienna State Opera

Self-preservation is a powerful thing. That fact is made most evident by how much society overvalues a self-destructive attitude. Everyone wants to see a daredevil eat fire and jump a shark pool on a gas-doused motorcycle. No one wants to see him triple-checking the fine print of his health insurance, investing heavily in Purdue Pharma because the price of street Heroin has become financially nonviable and the billion-word contract he’s spent weeks agonising over with the owners of the hog farm where the stunt is going to take place.

But too often is the instinct for self-preservation confused with the notion of immortality. The innate fear of sudden death is unrelated to the desire to live forever. We all want to die eventually. We just don’t want death sprung on us like syphilis or a surprise party. Resignation to death is life’s last pleasure. It only requires slightly more than a moment’s thought to rationally separate the fear of sudden death from the desire for everlasting life.

Unfortunately, more than a moment’s thought is not something of which all people are capable by themselves. For them, there’s Czech opera.

The Vienna State Opera is sharing past performances via free daily online streams. Experience the majesty of the Viennese opera alongside a worldwide audience. This week they will feature Věc Makropulos, a Czech play adapted into an opera featuring a group of variously related people who have discovered a potion that will grant 300 years of youth.

Of course, it’s important to remember this is an allegory, an operatic realisation that life is innately precious because of its ephemerality. The situations rendered are purely fictional. There’s no magic potion that will literally grant you a 300 year long lifespan.

What we’re saying is, if someone comes up to you on the street offering you a magic potion that’ll make you feel immortal, it’s 2020 and we’re all depressed. Mainline that s**t.

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