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The Musicals



Czech lyricist: Gabriela Osvaldová

Music: Ondřej Soukup

Librettist:  Jefim Fistein.


‘Elixir Of Life’ is an original Czech musical with a cast of 14 and an orchestra of seven.  

Elixir of Life musical
Performance in Czech with English subtitles.
elixir of life

elixir of life

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At some point in the last third of the 20th century a man dies. His soul is invited to a bonfire where the preliminary selection takes place. It seems that in heaven, like on earth, just those who had already been rich and famous on earth qualify for first class treatment. The name of the deceased, though he had been a doctor during his lifetime, does not sound familiar to any of the members of the curia and so he is nearly sent to one of the lower class heavens. However, the souls of some of the prominent inhabitants of the higher heavenly class recognise him as their beloved doctor and side with him. A practical philosophical question arises: what, in fact, is a celebrity? The curia eventually agrees to listen to his story that is, he is told, eventful enough to be composed into a novel. Due to the advocacy of the devil they finally decide to give the story a kind of modern twist of an improvised musical.


It turns out that the deceased had two women in his life: one capricious and lustful wife and the subordinate and overly modest assistant who helped him with his research. God, who assumes that both of these principals are hidden in every woman, insists on one actress playing both roles. A musical starts, in which the devil attempts to destroy and entangle the story, in which the angel constantly complains to God and insists upon sticking to the truth and in which God himself eventually unravels the business.


Professor Max Wolf, who was born at the end of the 19th century, experienced the typical life of a Central-European intellectual. Born into a German Jewish family, he grew up in an idyllic  environment of the Czech countryside. He studied engineering in Vienna and medicine in New York, where he fled from WWI. In all areas he showed extraordinary talents and sometimes even genius. In Vienna he was a successful inventor and engineer. In New York he became a sought-after gynecologist and founder of two new subject areas: endocrinology and enzyme-therapy. He was the founder of the inflammation-retardant supplement “Wobenzym”.


Despite his innate shyness he was ever present among the prominent people of his day. In the Viennese Café “Museum” he conversed with celebrities like Franz Kafka, Karl Kraus, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. In New York he quickly worked his way to becoming the most famous physician of the 20th century. He was generally known by the nickname “Wonder Doc”. He treated Hollywood stars; Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Rudolf Valentino, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich and Marylin Monroe are just a small selection from a long list with barely a single celebrity name missing. He treated writers like Somerset Maugham and politicians like John Foster Dulles. For sixteen years he was the personal physician of the Dominican dictator Trujillo, who begat 400 children – thanks to the ‘wonder doc’ as he believed. Through his patients he came to know the darling of the Hollywood divas, the New-Yorker Mafioso and future founder of Las Vegas, Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel. The soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev showed interest in Wolf’s preparation because he craved a rejuvenating cure. In the musical this role is assigned to Jossif Stalin on behalf of the plot.


The extraordinarily productive and manifold life of Professor Wolf enables kaleidoscopic variations of the environment and characters with which he had contact. Among these milieus are a Czech village and a decadent Viennese Café, a science laboratory and a New York bar during prohibition, the African-American ghetto in Harlem and a movie set at Hollywood studios, saloon balls of the crème de la crème and spy stories that originate at the Kremlin.  This extraordinary diversity of inspirational sources makes the entirely original music and songs possible. The extended medley with Czech folk-, Viennese waltz-, Jewish Klezmer-, Hungarian Chardash-, Russian Chastushka-, African American voodoo-, and jazz songs as well as other musical influences are based on philosophical, though at the same time shrewd, lyrics.


Unlike his famous patients, Max Wolf is not interested in “five minutes of fame” and declines the invitation to ‘first class heaven’.


The team of authors, consisting of the composer Ondřej Soukup, lyricist Gabriela Osvaldová, director Jozef Bednárik and librettist Jefim Fistein, is among the best that the industry in the Czech Republic has to offer. 

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