New Song of New Times

Bartók Plus Opera Festival


"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)

Rock Opera-Musical in two acts, in Hungarian // Libretto: Miklós Gábor Kerényi, based on the text by Péter Sziámi // Music: Puccini, adapted by Béla Zsoldos // World première: June 9th 2012, // A joint production of Bartók Plus Opera Festival and the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre // Directed by: Miklós Gábor Kerényi

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.

Opera in two acts, in Hungarian // Libretto: György Orbán // World première: June 15th, 2013 // Joint production of the Hungarian Opera, Cluj and Bartók Plus Opera Festival // Directed by: György Selmeczi and Eszter Novák.

"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.

Two one-act operas, in Hungarian // Libretto: Szabolcs Várady, based on short stories with the same title by Frederico García Lorca // World première: June 18th 2013, on the Main Stage at the Miskolc National Theatre // A joint production of Bartók Plus Opera Festival and the Csokonai National Theatre in Debrecen // Directed by: László Keszég.

“It is a fact that there are pieces of operatic literature that were favourably received by the mass audience. These works are not any lesser or higher value than the ones that are only addressed to the connoisseurs or the educated elite. Both can be masterpieces.”

(János Vajda, composer)

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.

Opera in two acts, in Hungarian // Libretto: Zsuzsa Kapecz and György Selmeczi based on the play by Ferenc Herczeg // World première: June 14th, 2014 Summer Stage at the Miskolc National Theatre // Guest performance of the Hungarian Opera, Cluj // Directed by: Zalán Zakariás.

“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.

Opera in one act, in Hungarian // Libretto: Ferenc Baranyi // World première: June 19th, 2014 on the Main Stage at the Miskolc National Theatre // Production of the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre // Directed by: Szilárd Somogyi.

“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.

Opera in one act, in Hungarian // Libretto: Zsuzsa Beney, based on the tale by Hans Christian Andersen // World première: June 12th, 2015 on the Main Stage at the Miskolc National Theatre // A joint production of Bartók Plus Opera Festival and the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre // Directed by: Sándor Zsótér.

“Crossover, that is the mixture of genres within one musical work, has a wide audience nowadays. I believe that you can find the audience for all kinds of music.”

(Gyula Fekete, composer)

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.

Opera in two acts, in Hungarian // Libretto: Anna Eliza Mechler // World première: June 16th, 2016 on the Main Stage at the Miskolc National Theatre // A joint production of Bartók Plus Opera Festival and the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre // Directed by: Kriszta Székely.

“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.

Credits: Story

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.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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