The Wooden Prince; The Miraculous Mandarin; Duke Bluebeard’s Castle – Béla Bartók's stage works one night
Béla Bartók’s timeless stage works offer inspiration for classical as well as contemporary approaches. The festival takes an active part in the staging of these works. By far the greatest enterprise in the series of intriguing productions has been the Bartók Marathon in 2016, which was Bartók Memorial Year in Hungary. That year we celebrated the 135th anniversary of Béla Bartók’s birth. Bartók Plus Opera Festival wanted to remember him by placing even greater emphasis on the composer’s oeuvre.
The trilogy of The Wooden Prince, The Miraculous Mandarin and Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, (although the three works are not originally intended to be unified), were presented to the audience in the form of a tetralogy with two distinct performances of The Wooden Prince opening and closing the sequence. These three works explore different aspects of the same big question: is real relationship possible between man and woman.
The problem has puzzled philosophers and artists since times immemorial in every age, while the answer was always given by the age, the location and its spirit; the traditions and moral order inherent in it. In the early twentieth century, after the decline of Romanticism and with the loosening of the strict rules of the social life of previous centuries enormous changes occurred in the way people regarded love. Bartók himself, mainly on the basis of his life experience had an extremely pessimistic view of the issue, as it is well reflected in these stories, of which only that of the Prince has a happy ending.
No matter how different the stories in the individual works are, it is obvious that all three focus on the relationship between man and woman, more particularly on the controversial nature of this relationship. In Géza M. Tóth’s directorial concept these works have a deeper and more generalized interpretation. For him these relationships are not reduced to the question how men and women get on; they are universal and meaningful in every context; can we experience life and our relationships fully, in an unconditional way or do we rather see it fragmentary and conditional.
The dual performance of The Wooden Prince created a framework for the works and the different ways the piece was performed created not only a closed structure but opened the possibility for a new interpretation. Thus through Bartók’s works we could follow up ’all the stages’ of a woman’s emotional life: starting from the naïve and innocent expectations through mature passion and the disappointments of adulthood till the aquiescence of old age.
Editor in chief: Lenke Frecskó
Photos: Vera Éder, Mihály Samu Gálos, János Vajda
Cameraman: Ferenc Nagy
Text and translation: László Méhes,István Nagy
Also Collaborated: Dániel Gyetvai
Publisher: Miskolc Opera Festival Nonprofit Ltd.