After almost five years of closure, the Hungarian State Opera House is throwing open its doors again to opera and ballet lovers the world over. The historic building has been returned to its former glory, now complete with state-of-the-art modern technologies.
The reconstruction has seen major work undertaken on the opera house’s stage engineering and auditorium acoustics, as well as the restoration of its historic features. The stage machinery has been transformed, replacing outdated East German technology with cutting-edge engineering, with a now entirely mobile orchestra pit. This area has been returned to its original size, with increased ventilation, reverberation and amplification. Art studios have been relocated, with additional rehearsal space created for Hungary’s only classical corps de ballet, and disabled access has been improved throughout the 138-year-old building.
Returning with a fanfare
The Budapest Opera House will welcome local and international audiences back to its lavish halls with a three-day festival spectacular. Running from 12-14 March, the weekend will open with an orchestral gala conducted by a roster of starry names including Plácido Domingo, Ádám Medveczky, Gergely Kesselyák and Hungarian State Opera’s general music director Balázs Kocsár.
On 13 March, the company will present a new staging of Erkel’s Hunyadi László, considered to be the first major Hungarian opera. The folk-influenced production will see general director Szilveszter Ókovács making his directorial debut, demonstrating the artistic and technical virtuosity of the Opera House’s newly modernised stage machinery.
The Hungarian National Ballet makes its long-awaited return to the historic building in a new production of Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling the following day. Completed after MacMillan resigned as artistic director of the Royal Ballet in 1977, the production is centred around by the deaths of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria-Hungary and his teenage mistress Mary Vetsera in 1889. It is regarded by many to be the British choreographer’s finest work, showcasing the lavish opulence of the Austro-Hungarian courts.
A look ahead
Later in the season, the Hungarian State Opera will bring its Ring cycle to a close with Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. There’s more for Wagner lovers elsewhere in the upcoming season, with a premiere staging of Parsifal. Plus, audiences can expect performances of Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, Boito’s Mefistofele, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and The Magic Flute, Giordano’s Andrea Chénier, Puccini’s La fanciulla del West and Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, Don Carlo and Un ballo in Maschera. For ballet lovers, performances of Romeo and Juliet and Onegin are also included in the line-up.
As well as appearances from world-class Hungarian soloists and conductors, the Opera House will welcome international guest stars. Plácido Domingo enjoys his return to the stage, this time as Simon Boccanegra, while Sir Willard White will appear as both Bluebeard and Porgy.
For full details, please visit the Hungarian State Opera House’s website.