The 2018/19 season of the Hungarian State Opera pays tribute to the universally beloved opera composer Giacomo Puccini. To open the season on this evening, we will be holding a pre-premiere of Balázs Szálinger's Chrysanthemums, or the Death of Liù, whose actual premiere will take place as part of our PucciniFest. The chamber piece sensitively presents the maestro's tempestuous private life and the link between the anguish and joy of artistic creation, and is rounded out by some of the composers arias and instrumental passages. The remarkable thing about Szálinger's production is the fact that it will be performed in Italian, as interpreted by Italian actors, thus more integrally integrating the opera passages into the work. At the pre-premiere, the performers will be accompanied by a piano, which at PucciniFest will be joined by an orchestra.
After the festival, a trailer stage recalling the era of itinerant theatrical troupes will set off with the Opera's production to evoke Puccini's life and wonderful melodies – as something of a homage to the maestro's greatness – in major Italian cities that were important to the composer.
Puccini is in the middle of writing his opera La Fanciulla del West. For the past four years, Doria Manfredi has been working as a servant in the Puccini household, where she is treated as a member of the family. She worships the master, who, although happy to be living surrounded by his family, always seeks a new muse for each work. He has just found the model for the opera’s female protagonist in the person of Doria’s cousin Giulia. Puccini’s wife, Elvira, senses that her husband has got mixed up in a new affair, but a misunderstanding leads her to very publicly accuse Doria of betrayal. The young girl escapes by taking her own life, but Puccini makes her immortal by using her as the basis for the self-sacrificing servant Liù in Turandot. Her aria is the last bit of music that the master sets to paper before his death.