PREMIERES AT THE FESTIVAL - FIRST TIME IN HUNGARY, IN EUROPE AND ALL OVER THE WORLD
"The thesis is that contemporary art has distanced itself from the audience in the 20th century. And the anti-thesis is that the audience have decided they will find out what they like for themselves. The problem is, however, that the value of this cannot be controlled by anyone. Therefore, a synthesis that finds the common voice of the two is bound come to light one day.”
(Gergely Kesselyák, festival director)
The authors created this adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème on commission of Bartók Plus Opera Festival.
The basic idea and atmosphere of this re-interpretation evokes our contemporary world. The tunes of the music conform to Puccini’s work even with the instrumentation for the rock genre.
The plot also follows the original opera by Puccini with a topic taken from our age:
Four young artists want to shoot a film based on La bohème in the mood of L’écume des jours (Froth on the Daydream) by Boris Vian. They are making trial shots, negotiating with producers and managers, looking for actors for the characters, they fight and make peace with each-other while they are living the difficult life of beginner directors, writers, designers, that is often discouraging.
In the final outcome reality and fiction are mixed up in the planned film: the staff are recording the real agony and death of the protagonist girl.
Life is film. A cruel but marvellous story about existence, art, youth and love. This piece is a message from Puccini to our age, and the message is for all of us.
"In Europe opera is extremely expensive and caters to, almost exclusively, the social élite. It is practically unimportant what the theatres present, they can even be terrible works because opera, instead of a musical experience, constitutes a social event there, and those three hours can even be spent with listening to horrible music.
This is why we need to find the so-called popular opera, should it be anything that the audience is ready to attend. The limits of the genre must be widened.”
(György Orbán, composer)
At many points in the composer, György Orbán’s oeuvre you can notice the specific interest in dramatic situations of eternal value found in archaic cultures.
He takes the topic of his opera Bűvölet (Charm) from the conflict between the Ideal Beauty represented by Orpheus and ever-changing Spirit of the Age.
The plot takes us to the final days of decadent, self-destructive Rome and the characters are seeking personal ways of getting forward among fake survival options. A series of astounding events lead them to realise that beauty and truth are inter-dependent. Real talent, the sense of vocation, chosen spirit and soul are worth more than any worldly power.
The composer's fully tuneful and harmonic music is capable of transmitting serenity, sarcasm, longing and passion, heated drama and lofty poetry at the same intensity creating a real challenge for the performing actors.
Don Perlimplín and Don Cristóbal, created on the inspiration from Frederico García Lorca’s works, are twin plays like mirror images.
Two interpretations of the same story: the love of an aging man and a young girl is related as a sad and a happy play.
Don Perlimpín is a thought-provoking tragedy whose leading character commits suicide because his old-age lover desires other men. As opposed to that, Don Cristóbal is a full-blooded farce where the excessively appalling protagonist is killed by the men his spouse has accepted in her bed.
Tragedy and comedy are naturally separated into two independent operatic worlds. The motifs related to the characters come across here and there, suggesting the duality that has characterized the relationship between man and woman for generations.
“I call the musical language I use post-Puccinian language that aspires to use the generally accepted operatic topics on the basis of which the venerable audience feels that an opera is an opera. I do want to pay attention to the audience, and I do want to compose opera-like operas.
(György Selmeczi, composer)
The opera based on Ferenc Herczeg’s play from 1904 portrays the final days of the Byzantine Empire.
The hopeless struggle by Emperor Constantine to oppose the Turkish armies with his western Christian mercenaries. All the action takes place in Byzantium, on one day in May 1453.
Compositions building up from effective musical motifs present the collapse of the Emperor who does not notice while fighting with the outside enemy that the real danger is his own court: the elite that is bound for destruction and who are seeking the mercy of the Turkish sultan.
As a result of the superior power of the enemy, but even more of the internal division and a series of betrayals the Emperor is defeated and Byzantium is taken over by the Muslims. Constantine has lost the battle but saved his own honour through his sacrifice. This is how his fate is fulfilled.
“The genre of the opera developed in a direction where harmony and tunes have disappeared from the music and rhythm has become too complicated. Contemporary opera must return to the classical style represented by Puccini, among others, while integrating all the musical and instrumental-technical innovations that the second half of the 20th century produced.”
(László Dubrovay, composer)
Váltságdíj (Ransom) originally intended as an opera buffa is basically a trite political satire. Its absurdist plot is set in a non-existent small country in the present day. The General Chief, head of the Great Committee is kidnapped. A ridiculously low ransom is asked for him, because according to the kidnappers, members of the Association of Unsatiated Women and Girls (UWG) the General Chief has not fulfilled their expectations as a man. The low ransom fee is shameful, but the ladies insist on it. The solution they finally find is the creation of the UWG Charity from an actually high amount of ransom paid to finance the import of well-built boys from the Far East and from Africa. The country goes bankrupt, but everybody is happy.
The Story of a Mother (Historien om en moder) is one of the most beautiful tales by the Danish storyteller, Hans Christian Andersen.
This work on self-sacrificing love starts sadly and gradually becomes even sadder. But the conclusion reaches beautiful heights just as expected from the genius of the author.
It reveals the complexity of love; if you really love someone, you must be able to let him or her go, even at the cost of the greatest heart-felt pain, so that this person can find his or her own happiness. The moving “requiem play” projects the complex image of love into a tunefully modern popular opera composition.
“The play is post-modern to a certain extent; it is full of references and remembering but not in a way that can only be comprehended by the initiates. From a musical point of view it is somewhere in-between musical, operetta and opera. Anyone who is a little bit familiar with turn of the century operettas and operas will not feel it as alien or strange.”
(Tamás Beischer-Matyó, composer)
Tamás Beischer-Matyó created a musical world in Creative Relationships which blends film effects, tuneful arias, dance music, with occasionally nerve-wracking or ironically frivolous motifs.
The characters portrayed:
the Photographer, the Businesswoman, the Pop diva and the Programmer are successful in their work but their lives are still incomplete.
The plot is focussed on the Photographer, who is curious to know not only his models’ most favourable profile but their deepest personal secrets, fears and repressed desires. The models become defenceless in a matter of a few seconds to the stranger watching from the other side of the lens.
Lives of the four characters become fatefully intertwined while they get a realistic picture of themselves, of the uncertainties hidden behind their composure. They are the everyday figures of our times who either escape into work, or feel bored and are searching their place on earth with self-deception or complete innocence.
Editor in chief: Lenke Frecskó
Photos: Vera Éder, Mihály Samu Gálos, János Vajda
Cameraman: †László Hegyi, Ferenc Nagy
Text and translation: László Méhes,István Nagy
Also Collaborated: Dániel Gyetvai
Publisher: Miskolc Opera Festival Nonprofit Ltd.