Pongrác Kacsóh


contemporary opera 8 premiere

March 10., Friday 18:00

Hungarian State Opera

Singspiel in three parts, in Hungarian, with Hungarian and English surtitles

“Such a wonderful tale. Pongrác Kacsóh followed in the tracks of the poet without wiping off the butterfly wing scale with rough hands; his fantastic, gorgeous music is distinctly different from any operetta we have heard before with its Hungarian motives and genuine folk style”, reports on the 1904 premier of John the Valiant the newspaper called Újság. It might sound incredible, but the title role was played by the great prima donna Sári Fedák. “When I had sung ‘A single rose says it better’, the fate of the work was sealed. Everyone was crying in the audience, and I cried with them.” There was hardly a season since its opera house premier in 1931 when it was not included in the programme. With John the Valiant, the OPERA wishes to honour the 200th anniversary of Sándor Petőfi’s birth in 2023.


Hungarian State Opera
March 10, 2023
Start time
6 p.m.
End time
9:10 p.m.
Pongrác Kacsóh
Jenő Heltai Károly Bakonyi
Máté Szabó
Set designer
Balázs Horesnyi
Costume designer
Anni Füzér
Bertalan Vári
Enikő Perczel
English surtitles
Arthur Roger Crane
Chorus director
Gábor Csiki


Premiere: Feb. 24, 2023

Hungarian State Opera
11. Pitti Katalin season ticket
Hungarian State Opera
14. Berczelly István season ticket


Act I
At the end of the village the girls say goodbye to the hussars, who are about to join the army. Iluska, the most beautiful girl of the village ties the ribbon onto the three coloured flag. Poor Iluska is tormented to death by her stepmother: her simple happiness is in her love to Jancsi Kukorica, the brave herdsman. This happiness is soon over. The cruel stepmother hire the village field-guard to ride off Jancsi's cattle into the forbidden area, and when it happens Jancsi has to escape from the angry people and the punishment awaiting for him. He says goodbye to Iluska, joins the hussar army and go out into the world, but promises her lover not to forget her and returns for her even from a hundred deaths.
Act II
At the French court there is high sadness: the Turkish won the battle, the crown and country of the French king have been lost. Then Vitéz János (János hussar) - who has gained this name for his several heroic feats - comes with his heroic hussars and undertakes to save the country at the nice French princess' request. He sets off to war and chase away the Turks. The French king blessfully offers him half of the county and his daughter's hand. But János hussar - at everybody's surprise - refuses the princess' hand: he thinks of Iluska longs for her in his heart and soul. The sound of flute can be heard: a dusted, sad hussar arrives. Bagó, the trumpeter, brings the fringhtening news from Jancsi's village about Juliska, who is dead. The treatment of the cruel stepmother chased her to death. He brings a rose to Jancsi, which grew on Juliska's tomb. Jancsi - with broken heart, great pain - says goodbye to the French king's court and sets off to go with Bagó to look for their common lover Juliska even in death.
Jancsi and Bagó on their way arrive at the Lake of Life.The cruel stepmother, as an ugly witch attempts to entice Jancsi from the lake, but Jancsi from the fairies' song knows where he is and that he can find his lost Juliska here. He drops the rose grown on Juliska's tomb into the Lake of Life. There are flowers, roses growing and the fairies' empire appears, where Juliska is the queen of the fairies. The two lovers find each other happily and Juliska persuades Jancsi to stay in the World of Fairies as the king of the fairies. Jancsi agrees, but when the leaving Bagó's sad song can be heard from the flute, he cannot bear with himself and runs hometo his beautiful country, Hungary. Neither Iluska can stay, she is asked by the fairies in vain, She runs after her Jancsi, and together, embracing each other, arrive home connecting an everlasting love in the evening to the end of the village, to Juliska's well-known house. Bagó crying for his lost happiness is having a rest on the bank of the stream.