Following Hába’s The New Land and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, the loose “Russian trilogy” we have prepared for the 2014/15 season is rounded off by Leoš Janáček’s final opera, inspired by Dostoyevsky’s novel The House of the Dead, reflecting the author’s own experience as a political prisoner in a Siberian penal camp amid a wide scale of convicts condemned for various crimes. In the opera, Janáček put aside the repeatedly treated stories of great female dramatis personae and immersed himself in the world of male “crime and punishment”. The metaphor of “the dead house” gives rise to the composer’s peculiar, anti-dramatic conception of the opera. Even though the life in the camp is depicted lushly and extremely realistically, it all serves as mere coulisse, an ever-repeating and depressing rite, a pretended life. The prisoners actually perceive as real life their past, into which they obsessively return, some of them telling shocking stories so as to make sure they are still alive.