At the invitation of the Dubai Opera, the Hungarian State Opera will perform as a guest in the United Arab Emirates between 8 and 13 September 2023, with the productions of Swan Lake and Madama Butterfly. The seven-performance tour, involving a total of 244 artists and employees, is the largest presentation of the institution's decade-long presence in the Middle East so far, and at the same time the second largest-ever guest performance of Hungarian performing arts after the OPERA's 2018 performance in New York. The 12-day Dubai project with a total cost of half a billion HUF is entirely covered by the invitant.
Located in the heart of the most populous city of the United Arab Emirates, in the immediate vicinity of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Opera has hosted various prose and musical theatre genres, concerts, exhibitions, and conferences since its opening in 2016. The 2000-seat theatre of the building, designed by Janus Roston and the Atkins Architecture, was opened with a performance by Plácido Domingo, but José Carreras also sang here, and this season, among others, it serves as the venue for the performance of the St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet and an aria recital of Aida Garifullina.
On the occasion of the guest performance, head of the Dubai Opera, Dr. Paolo Petrocelli stated, “We are delighted to host the Hungarian State Opera at our theatre for the very first time. This cooperation marks an important milestone in the joint effort of our organisations to promote culture and excellence in the arts. It is part of our mission at the Dubai Opera to inspire and elevate our community and our audience with exceptional performances and unforgettable experiences. That is why we have decided to open our new season presenting two exceptional productions of opera and ballet by the Hungarian State Opera. We look forward to celebrating along with our esteemed audience the artistry and talent of such a respected company".
Between 8 and 10 September, the Hungarian National Ballet presents Tchaikovsky's classical ballet Swan Lake with the choreography of Rudi van Dantzig and Toer van Schayk five times. The main roles of the performance are performed by Tatiana Melnik and Maria Yakovleva as Odette/Odile, Dmitry Timofeev and Louis Scrivener as Siegfried, and Mikalai Radziush and Iurii Kekalo as Rothbart. The students of the Hungarian National Ballet Institute also participate in the performance, the Orchestra of the Hungarian State Opera is conducted by debutant Gábor Hontvári. Subsequently, on 12 and 13 September, Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly is presented in the 2000 production by Gábor Miklós Kerényi, with the main roles performed by Gabriella Létay Kiss and Kinga Kriszta as Cio-Cio San, Boldizsár László as Pinkerton, Erika Gál as Suzuki, and Zsolt Haja as Sharpless, the OPERA Orchestra and Chorus are conducted by János Kovács. The OPERA has travelled to the UAE with a total of 244 people, including 9 vocal soloists, 2 conductors, a 66-piece orchestra, 23 chorus members, 69 ballet dancers, 10 ballet students, 14 extras, and 24 stage technical and background staff.
The guest performance in Dubai is the most significant appearance of the Hungarian State Opera's nearly decade-long presence in the Middle East. In 2012, the OPERA, in partnership with Müpa Budapest, presented Mozart's opera Die Entführung aus dem Searil at the Royal Opera House of Oman in Muscat, and took part with its artists in the performance of Verdi's Aida in Qatar. In 2018, also in Oman, the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra accompanied Juan Diego Flórez's concert. In 2017, the OPERA Orchestra accompanied Andrea Bocelli in a special performance among the Roman-era ruins of Jerash, Jordan, while in 2019, the ensemble made a guest appearance with Goldmark's opera Die Königin von Saba in Tel Aviv, at the Israel Opera House. Most recently, at the beginning of 2020, the OPERA Orchestra accompanied aproduction of Giselle by La Scala Theatre Company, Milan at the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Cultural Center in Kuwait City, and next year – according to regional plans – the company of the Hungarian State Opera will make a guest appearance in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and other distant Asian destinations including India and Japan are also planned.