The reopening of the Hungarian State Opera House has gone off without a hitch this week with premier performances of Mayerling and the Hunyadi László opera by Ferenc Erkel. The OPERA has also announced its 2022/2023 thematic season titled Myth & History.
The program of the OPERA’s 139th season features over 500 theatrical shows played in two locations, including 53 repertoire pieces and 16 new productions with 10 feature shows among them. The 2022/2023 season of the OPERA was inspired by the interconnected layers of myths and history, with several of its premiering productions being based on dramatic historical events. Iván Madarász was commissioned by the OPERA to turn Zoltán Fábri’s screenplay into an opera titled The Fifth Seal, set at the time of the Arrow Cross Party’s terror and the Siege of Budapest, the premier of which is directed by János Szikora. The Hungarian premier of Prokofiev’s War & Peace is brought to the stage by Calixto Bieito in co-production with the Grand Théâtre de Genève, and the Opera House is also preparing a new premier of Tosca. There are two Mozart operas to return to the theatre’s repertoire after a long hiatus: the audience had to wait over 40 years to see Idomeneo, King of Crete and over 30 years to see The Secret Gardener at the OPERA again. Both of them are directed by artistic director András Almási-Tóth, the latter for the stage of the Eiffel Art Studios, in co-production with Opera Neo in San Diego. The theme of the season naturally suggested several Baroque works rooted in Antique culture or set in the era of the Crusades to be premiered at the OPERA, and so Szenteczki Zita will adapt the 2016 direction of Gluck’s opera Orpheus & Eurydice she did during her studies at the Liszt Academy for the stage of the Eiffel Art Studios, where Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas will also be played under the direction of Dóra Barta, as well as a production of Monteverdi madrigals by Tulassay Ádám titled Tancredi & Clorinda. For a special séance of Advent, pianist Tamás Érdi brings a story relevant to the Three Wise Men, György Selmeczi’s Artaban to the stage based on the concept of general director Szilveszter Ókovács, and after several seasons’ delay, Mária Harangi directs two one-act pieces of similar subjects by contemporary Italian composer Giampaolo Testoni, Fantasio & Fortunio, the original 2018 premier of which were performed by the OPERA in Teatro Coccia in Novara.
As part of the Ministry for Human Capacities’ Ervin Lázár Program, Toronykőy Attila directs Puccini’s opera under the title Schicchi 2.0 for the upper classes of primary school, while John the Valiant returns to the stage directed by Máté Szabó to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Sándor Petőfi’s birth. In connection with the bicentennial year, the OPERA Orchestra will perform Jenő Hubay’s Petőfi Symphony, and will create a public recording of Simple Steve, Béla Szabados’s musical popular play commissioned by the OPERA 100 years ago. The piece will be performed together with Péter Tóth's madrigal comedy entitled A helység kalapácsa based on a work by Sándor Petőfi.
The Hungarian National Ballet is preparing the Hungarian premier of Boris Eifman’s feature ballet The Pygmalion Effect, as well as new interpretations of two Bartók ballets: ballet master László Velekei’s choreography of The Wooden Prince and principal ballet master Marianna Venekei’s choreography of The Miraculous Mandarin. In addition, such monumental classical ballets will be included in the ensemble’s repertoire again as The Taming of the Shrew, Don Quixote and Swan Lake, which could not be performed during the renovations of the Opera House. The Nutcracker will move back to the Ybl Palace with 28 shows, and Mayerling, to be premiered this year, will also be included in next year’s program.
The Hungarian State Opera House was reopened with a festive gala last Saturday following an extensive refurbishment. The opening ceremony was attended by incumbent President János Áder, President-elect Katalin Novák and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Addressing the event, President Áder spoke about the 138-year history of the Opera House, one of the masterpieces of eminent 19th-century architect Miklós Ybl. “What a variety of events this building has witnessed and survived: wars and revolutions, conquerors and various forms of government, occupations and regained freedoms. Several directors who brought about a golden age of opera and some who were certainly unworthy of their post. Old and new, conservative and progressive styles,” the president said. “But eventually, it was the valuable that prevailed. And those who wanted to work on the highest possible standard … and knew that the performance of the Budapest opera should be a match for the best in Europe,” he added.