Satan appears in Moscow in the company of a resolute talking cat and other strange characters. Some people disappear under strange circumstances, witches fly through the air, and we are transported back to Biblical times from one minute to the next. The surreal story of Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita comes to life in a special musical format in Levente Gyöngyösi’s opera-musical. “I had wanted to write a piece where the stylistic elements of contemporary and pop music synthesise for quite a while now. Something that is easy to understand, well laid out, and modern: an experiment to do away with boundaries.” The world premiere will be performed in a special format reminiscent of musicals, with the participation of the artists from the Hungarian Dance Academy and the Capital Circus of Budapest and under the direction of Vajk Szente, who is at home both as an actor in musical theatre and as a director.
1930s Moscow. People are living their diligent, Soviet lives. Mikhail Masterov finishes his work Pontius Pilate, but the Writers Guild bans both the book and the author. The writer Berlioz presides at the Writers Guild hearing, with Margarita Nikolaevna acting as keeper of the minutes. That is how the girl gets to know Masterov, i.e. the Master. Their budding love is interrupted by the police, who lock the man into a lunatic asylum.
That is when Woland, Satan himself, appears, presenting himself to the writers Berlioz and Homeless Ivan as a professor of black magic. He conjures up the first chapter of the Master’s book for them, in which Pilate, Jesus (Yeshua Ha-Notsri), and the High Priest Caiaphas meet in Jerusalem in 1st century Jerusalem.
Pilate is suffering from a headache when he agrees to see Yeshua. After his miraculous recovery, he does everything in his power to save the life of the “crazy” Ha-Notsri. But Yeshua’s treasonous statements and Caiaphas’s threats of a revolt force Pilate to back down, who ends up committing the sin of cowardice.
Woland, Berlioz, and Ivan then engage in a theological dispute as to the existence of God and Satan, in the course of which Woland prophesises the death of Berlioz, which takes place immediately. Homeless Ivan goes crazy in the shock caused by the death and in the realisation that the professor is actually evil incarnate, and he too ends up in the lunatic asylum. The lonely Margarita struggles with the thought of suicide but is saved by Woland’s servants. The uninvited guests move into Berlioz’s empty apartment and plan to hold a special performance at the variety theatre for Woland. The audience is shown the tantalising possibility of getting rich quickly, but are then driven mad after everything is taken from them.
In the lunatic asylum, we find the variety theatre audience among Professor Stravinskij’s patients, and this is where the Master and Homeless Ivan meet again. At Ivan’s behest, the Master continues the novel’s plot.
Matthew Levi tries to kill Yeshua to ease the suffering of death on the cross, but he fails and ends up being captured. Following Pilate’s orders, the bodyguard kills Judas, making the punishment seem like a suicide.
Margarita continues to be unable to find her place. As she struggles to do so, she meets Woland’s servants, who convey an invitation from their master: if she plays the role of host at the ball of the full moon, her lover, the Master, will be returned to her.
The famous murderers and miscreants of history are all present at Satan’s ball. Margarita does as she is told and she is indeed returned her lover, and, as Woland’s gift, the Master is returned his manuscript, which he thought had been burned. Based on the manuscript, they talk of Pilate’s lonely night when he comes to his grand conclusion: cowardice is the greatest of all sins.
Matthew Levi comes to Woland with a message from Yeshua, saying he should take the Master and Margarita with him. In the eternal conflict of light and shadow, Woland sheds light on the essence of their story: they cannot exist without one another, just as good has no meaning without evil. The Master and Margarita accept Satan’s offer and disappear from Moscow.