“Key to the Future”

Bartók Plus Opera Festival



Without the emergence of contemporary popular opera capable of addressing large audiences opera performances will become mere museums and the opera genre, falling short of broad social support, will diminish into a narrow sub-sector of the performing arts. Directorial opera-staging has been delaying the slow decline of the genre, but it is not enough any more.
The time has come for the composers to renew and save the opera!
To the Composers of all countries!
Create the radically new opera genre that combines the popularity of musicals with the highest aesthetic aspirations of classical music thus returning opera to the spirit of Mozart, Verdi and Puccini.

(Quoted from the Artistic Manifesto of Bartók Plus Opera Festival)

“This festival helps new operas come into the world”
Alexey Rybnikov
Russian composer, member of the Jury.


The opera composition competition of Bartók Plus Opera Festival was launched in 2013.
The competition attracts attention to “popular operas” by living composers not yet presented in any form on stage, hoping to lure and win over the audience for the genre of contemporary opera.
The competition offering prizes for the finalists is open to composers from all over the world to submit their finished
work not yet presented in a stage performance.

Competition pieces are judged by a professional jury consisting of conductors, music academy staff, producers, directors and established composers.

The best piece selected by them is produced in fully staged form with orchestra by Bartók Plus Opera Festival in the year following that of the competition.

Jury of "KEY TO THE FUTURE 2016"
Opera Composition Competition:

Gergely Kesselyák, artistic director of Bartók Plus Opera Festival;

Gyula Fekete, composer, deputy rector of Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music;

Alexey Rybnikov, composer, Russia;

Girolamo Deraco, composer, Italy;

Bubo Damen producer;

Philip de la Croix, director of Musica Prima by Classic 360;

Bruno Berger-Gorski, opera director, Germany

It was in 2013 that Bartók Plus Opera Festival first organised an opera workshop from the works shortlisted for the finals.
During the seven-day workshop session the director, the conductor and the soloists worked with the author with piano accompaniment.
The audience could see the result as a partly staged “reading opera performance”. Excerpts from the finalist works can be heard at the Gala Concerts of Bartók Plus Opera Festival.

For young composers, it is rather difficult to find a theatre willing to perform their work. At the opera competition of Bartók Plus, however, they can become part of a theatrical production, get in touch with the performers, which also contribute to their further development.
Because it is also part of the job of a composer to make the orchestra, the soloist or the conductor understand his or her concept and ideas, which can only be learnt in practice.
Bartók Plus Opera Festival provides an great opportunity for that.

Ever since it was first advertised, “Key to the Future” –Opera Composition Competition has attracted much interest on the international scene. In addition to Hungarian competitors, American, Czech, English, Greek and Italian composers have entered with their new compositions.

The jury of “Key to the Future” –Opera Composition Competition did not proclaim a winner in 2013 and 2014 but the prizes for Talent, Popularity and Professionalism were awarded to the composers of the works shortlisted.

The shortest opera performance of all times

An exciting chapter in the history of the Opera Composition Competition is the opus Taci! (Shut up!) by the Italian composer, Girolamo Deraco lasting only 8 minutes.

The 2013 performance of the work at Bartók Plus Opera Festival turned into a world record show as the representative of the Hungarian Records Association who was present registered it as "the shortest opera performance of all times".

The composition, based on minimalist theory and performed sixteen times by the soloist and the ballet group of the Miskolc National Theatre as a situational exercise also set the record of "the opera presented the greatest number of times in one night".

Girolamo Deraco: Taci! (Shut up!)

Orsolya Hajnalka Röser

Erika Miklósa opera singer hosting the Gala Concert in 2014.

Éva Marton, opera singer, professor of Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music and erstwhile artistic director of the opera festival also attended the Finals in 2016.

Finalists in the year 2016:
Jan Jirásek: R. U. R. (Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti – Rossum’s Universal Robots).

Péter Lendvai: Tarot-mese (Tarot Tale) (libretto by Tünde Kardos).

Szabolcs Mátyássy: Scaevola (libretto by László Jánik).

Miklós Szilágyi–György Tibor Horváth: La Prima Donna.

The International Jury declared Szabolcs Mátyássy’s Scaevola to be the opera that best conformed to the expectations for modern “popular opera” lined out in the festival’s Artistic Manifesto after the Finals held at the Solti Hall at Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music (December 13th, 2016).

"I deem it awfully important to make the audience realise that contemporary music is not inevitably synonymous with difficult to comprehend, difficult to decode, serial or dodecaphonic music, but it can also mean something easier to take in. The soloist parts of my opera are largely characterized by tonal music and are made up of closed pieces; arias, duets and tercets..
I also preserved the tradition that storytelling is mainly recitative-like while in the arias the emphasis is on the emotions. I hope to have created tunes that can be recalled, that you can even hum to yourself whilst walking in the street."

(Szabolcs Mátyássy)

Credits: Story

Editor in chief: Lenke Frecskó

Photos:János Vajda, Vera Éder, Mihály Samu Gálos

Cameraman: †László Hegyi, Ferenc Nagy

Text and translation: István Nagy, László Méhes

Also Collaborated: Dániel Gyetvai

Publisher: Miskolc Opera Festival Nonprofit Ltd.

Credits: All media
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