Zoltán Kodály

Háry János

Singspiel in two parts, in Hungarian, with Hungarian and English surtitles
There is no life without stories. Zoltán Kodály's Háry János, however, is one of the greatest dreamers to ever take the musical stage: “Everything he says is reality interwoven with fantasy, illuminated with the genius of folk tales”, declared the composer. The marvellous adventures of the rascally veteran from Nagyabony combined with Hungarian folk songs scored for full orchestra have been enchanting audiences since 1926. Discussing the production that has run at the Erkel Theatre since 2013, director Attila Vidnyánszky said, “Háry János is about how, amidst the centuries of failures and defeats of Hungarian history, to find in our dreams a salve for these wounds.
In the village of Nagyabony, the regulars gather at the inn to hear the aged veteran János Háry tell his stories. The judge, the student and a few farmers sit down to sip wine and listen to the old man's stories, which many of them take with more than one pinch of salt.

Adventure I: Háry stands guard on the Austrian frontier. The Austrian border guard refuses to allow anyone to cross over from the other side, including Marie Louise, the daughter of Emperor Franz, and her retinue – with Baron Ebelasztin among them, as well as the coachman Marci, driver of the imperial coach. Háry, together with the other Hungarians, pushes the guardhouse into Austrian territory.

Adventure II: In Vienna's Burghof, Háry succeeds in taming Lucifer, the most unbreakable steed in the imperial stables. As a reward, Marie Louise gives him a violet. Baron Ebelasztin, stricken with jealousy, exercises the authority given to him by Napoleon to present the Emperor of Austria with a declaration of war.

Adventure III: Hussars are encamped below Milan castle. Napoleon attacks, but his forces fall before a single wave of Háry's sword. Napoleon himself is taken prisoner. Marie Louise arrives: she wants Háry for her husband instead of Napoleon. Örzse appears, and is unwilling to part with her betrothed.

Adventure IV: In the Viennese court, Háry and Marie Louise are getting ready for their wedding. The little princes tell Háry what they've learned in school. The court marches in. Háry doesn't want Marie Louise's hand or a princely title. Instead he wants to return to Nagyabony, the village of his birth, together with Örzse.

Epilogue: in the inn at Nagyabony, Háry reaches the end of his story, which relates how the lovers held a big wedding and lived happily together until poor Örzse passed away. This meant that no witness remained who could verify Háry's tale. But none was needed, either, for “no one on earth is as valiant/as our Uncle Háry was!
Photo by Herman Péter

General cast

Levente Török / Máté Hámori / Ádám Medveczky
Háry János
Zoltán Nagy / Zsolt Haja / Antal Cseh
Old Háry
László Csurka
Young Háry
Örs Domonkos Molnár / Gergely Apor Molnár
Örzse, Háry's sweetheart
Gabriella Balga / Erika Gál / Atala Schöck
Emperor Franz / Judge
Tamás Szalma / András Kőrösi
The Empress
Zita Váradi / Tünde Szabóki / Mária Farkasréti
Napoleon / Abraham, an innkeeper
András Hábetler / Zoltán Bátki Fazekas
Marie Louise
Éva Várhelyi / Lúcia Megyesi Schwartz / Zsófia Kálnay
Baron Ebelasztin
János Szerekován / Tivadar Kiss / Jenő Dékán
Old Marci
Géza Gábor / Tamás Busa / László Szvétek
General Krucifix
Richárd Hoffmann
A Hungarian guard
Tamás Szmerek
Burkus, a guard
Tamás Vass
A student
Balázs Csémy
Baroness Estella
Stefanik Márta
Countess Melusina
Klára Kneusel-Herdliczka
the dancers of the Hungarian National Ballet


Zsolt Harsányi / Béla Paulini
Attila Vidnyánszky
Set designer
Oleksandr Bilozub
Costume designer
Imelda Jeremias Bianca
Péter Gemza
Zsolt Szász
English surtitles
Császár Ilma / Arthur Roger Crane
Head of the Children's Chorus
Nikolett Hajzer
Chorus director
Gábor Csiki

Oct. 6, 2013