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At the closing ceremony of the 2022/23 season of the Hungarian State Opera, recently reappointed general director Szilveszter Ókovács presented the prestigious Chamber Singer and Étoile awards, and announced 27-year-old Martin Rajna, one of the most outstanding young conductors emerging from Hungary as principal conductor.

This year’s scholarship recipient of the ForumDirigenten programme by the German Music Council and a Conducting Fellowship at the Lucerne Festival Academy, Martin Rajna will embark on a busy 2023/24 season starting with two opera productions at the Hungarian State Opera, where he will conduct Verdi’s Attila and Rossini’s L’ italiana in Algeri as well as the new productions of Don Giovanni and Il barbiere di Siviglia in his new position. Later on, he will have several orchestra debuts in Germany including the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra, the Nürnberg Symphony Orchestra and the Hof Symphony Orchestra, and his Slovenian debut with the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra will bring him to Ljubljana.

Martin Rajna debuted as an opera conductor at the National Theatre of Győr in 2020, conducting Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which he also conducted at the Hungarian State Opera in 2022 beside György Ránki’s King Pomádé's New Clothes and Die Fledermaus by J. Strauss II. In 2021, he was appointed chief conductor of the Győr Philharmonic Orchestra, where he conducted a series of critically acclaimed concerts and opera performances, including a concert performance of Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard's Castle. Despite his young age, he regularly appears as guest conductor at the Hungarian State Opera and with leading symphony orchestras of Hungary, including the National Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2018, he received Hungary’s Junior Prima Award. 

Rajna is currently training at the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar under professors Nicolás Pasquet and Ekhart Wycik, after having graduated from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, where he studied with Ádám Medveczky and András Ligeti. In 2021 he was also selected for the mentoring programme of the Peter Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation, where he worked with such masters as Péter Eötvös, György Kurtág, Fabián Panisello, and Magnus Lindberg. He also took part in conducting courses by Péter Eötvös, Zsolt Hamar, and György Vashegyi.

Beside Rajna’s appointment, Péter Halász, permanent conductor (Kapellmeister) at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and former general music director of the Hungarian State Opera between 2013 and 2016, will return to Budapest as principal guest conductor in the 2023/24 season. The Chamber Singer title was awarded to internationally renowned tenor Szabolcs Brickner, bass István Kovács, and baritone Csaba Szegedi, whereas the Étoile title awarded by the Hungarian National Ballet went to principal Tatiana Melnik.