On the penultimate weekend of September 2016, as the summer break comes to a close, life will return to the Opera House and the Erkel Theatre. At the Erkel, fans of contemporary dance will be rewarded with Johan Inger's choreography Rain Dogs, while the Opera House, as in previous years, will be opening its doors in the context of a grand season opener: following the usual open-air commedia dell'arte chamber operas, Ferenc Anger's new production of La traviata, with Erika Miklósa and Polina Pasztircsák in the principle roles, will move into the palace of opera on Andrássy Avenue after being given its summer pre-premiere on Margaret Island.
To put it all into numbers: with 28 brand-new productions (including six world and six Hungarian premieres), there will be a total of 450 full-scale performances comprising an additional 60 repertoire pieces, 100 concerts, chamber performances and gala, event and festival productions, 200 children's programmes, 600 building tours, and more than 1,000 ambassadorial presentations. All in all, the 800,000-strong audience can look forward to more than 2,500 attractions taking place in some 20 different venues in the 2016/17 season.
The public will be seeing many of the premieres for the first time: Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites and the ballet Le Corsaire, choreographed to music by Adam, have never been listed on the Opera programme. In 2017, we willl be giving the Hungarian audience their first look at Péter Eötvös's opera Love and Other Demons. The string of world premieres include unique productions such as Love, inspired by the Károly Makk film, A Streetcar Named Desire set to music by László Dés, a practically unknown opera fragment by Mozart, as well as a composition by Rautavaara – The Mine – that has never before been performed on any of the world's opera stages.
The extraordinarily broad offering of operas again includes a few popular pieces that are being renewed: The Spinning Room, Lucia di Lammermoor and Bánk bán will all be mounted in productions stamped with the names of directors Michał Znaniecki, Máté Szabó and Attila Vidnyánszky, while Géza M. Tóth continues to direct the Ring cycle with Siegfried.
Throughout the course of the season, a number of world stars will arrive in Hungary for solo recitals, including Edita Gruberová and Renée Fleming, as well as René Pape, one of the world's most soughtafter basses, who will be appearing in this country for the first time with a recital of arias on the stage of the Opera House. Returning to sing opera arias for the centenary of the birth of legendary Hungarian tenor József Simándy will be star tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who this time will be making his debut on the stage of the Erkel. The ranks of our internationally renowned artists also include our Hungarian luminaries Andrea Rost, Erika Miklósa, Ildikó Komlósi, Csilla Boross, Levente Molnár and Gábor Bretz, who will be appearing in countless roles.
Beside them, around 120 Hungarian artists will be taking the stage alongside visitors from abroad such as Iréne Theorin, Erwin Schrott, Rafel Rojas, Leo Nucci, Tommi Hakala, Tetiana Zhuravel, Jürgen Sacher, Egils Silins, Kamen Chanev, Kristian Benedikt, Ivan Magrì, Michael Kupfer, Marcus Jupither, Karine Babajanyan and Marcello Giordani: every one of them a star of the international opera world.
With more than a century and a half of century of history behind it, the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra will, at concerts organised on significant dates, pay homage to the memory of major Hungarian artists like Zoltán Kodály, Miklós Ybl, György Cziffra, as well as János (Hans) Richter, a conductor who enjoyed the confidence of both Wagner and Liszt. The globe-trotting Hungarian conductors taking the podium at performances during the 2016/17 season will be joined by a total of 15 of their colleagues from abroad, including Philippe Auguin, Christian Badea, Paolo Carignani, Marco Comin, Alessandro De Marchi, Ion Marin and Pinchas Steinberg, as well as by Péter Eötvös, who will conduct his own opera.
The 2016/17 season holds plenty of excitement in store for ballet fans as well. In addition to the popular repertoire pieces of the Hungarian National Ballet, we'll be premiering a number of classical and contemporary pieces in productions from choreographers like Johan Inger, Anna-Marie Holmes, Pál Frenák and Marianna Venekei. The Iván Nagy International Ballet Gala, being organised for the third time in 2017, will again draw luminaries from European ballet life, while DanceTrend and Pas de Quatre, in which dance companies from outside of Budapest take the stage of the Erkel Theatre, will each be welcoming audiences for the fourth such occasions.
EIFFEL ART STUDIOS
The Opera's new rehearsal, manufacturing and warehouse complex, the Eiffel Art Studios will open in June of 2017 with the reconstruction of L'oca del Cairo, a hitherto unknown opera of Mozart's, but visitors will be able to get a glimpse of the brand-new theatre auditorium, the Bánffy Stage as early as May, when they will be welcomed to both an aria recital being held as part of the Chorus Singers' Mini-Festival and a fairytale opera by Ferenc Farkas.
The Eiffel works, once capable of repairing as many as 96 steam locomotives at a time, will perform additional functions as well. There will be a restaurant operating in the teak wood interior of an antique rail car, and visitors will be able to marvel at a legendary Mávag 301 steam locomotive. A costume rental facility will open, and this is also where we are establishing the Opera's training facilities: the Opera Music School and the Hungarian National Ballet Institute. The building's designer, János Feketeházy, worked on other projects other than these works: he also is credited with the Opera House's steel roof structure. His work is being honoured by the memorial hall being named after him.
The development of the Eiffel Art Studios means that three hectares of green space can be redeemed from the demolished ruins, which means that a park can be created, to be used for, among other things, spending theatre intermissions in proximity to nature, while a playground is also being constructed around the environmentally conscious facility. The inauguration of the park will mark the end of the second major development in the history of the nation's greatest cultural institute since 1984: the Eiffel Art Studios project, to be followed immediately by a third: the modernisation of the great palace on Andrássy Avenue...