After the sinister and dramatic Hungarian première of Reimann’s “Lear” this year, it returns to the Opera House stage for two nights only. Directed by Ferenc Anger, king of darkness himself, if you missed this wonderful production in January there is still a chance to experience one of Shakespeare’s finest tragedies in operatic form.
“Lear” contains the absolute extremes of human nature: violence, intense jealousy, vengeance and the ultimate in pain and tragedy. It is strong on plot and Lear himself is the embodiment of human suffering. Tómas Tómasson performs in the title role with Caroline Melzer/Eszter Sümegi as the tragic Cordelia alongside an array of Hungarian State Opera’s finest. Stefan Soltesz conducts through Reimann’s sweeping orchestral score.
The moral is defining the infinite; how filial love can be measured, and this is Lear’s failing throughout. The wicked daughters Goneril and Regan are pitted against the pure Cordelia, and Lear realises only too late his weakness and terrible mistakes as he descends into madness. The storm rages literally and metaphorically whipping up into a frenzied finale.
It is an opera that is certainly not easy viewing but herein lies its dark dramatic power.
In contrast, but equally as black, is the ballet world’s magnificent “Anna Karenina”. Again, this plays for only two nights and is choreographed by Boris Eifman, based on the novel by Tolstoy and set to the imposing and intense score of Tchaikovsky. A young production, the première was only staged 11 years ago in St Petersburg and critics have been vociferous in their love and loathing in equal measure.
Eifman is a choreographer who refuses to go with the mainstream and deliberately sets out to shock. His work is intense, angular and freed from the tight restraints of classical ballet. The dancers move more like athletes across the stage expressing extreme emotions through every fibre of their bodies.
“Anna Karenina” with its classic Russian tragedy and love triangle is psychologically and emotionally demanding, but, in much the same fashion as “Lear”, using such a classic author as Tolstoy provides a towering explosion of emotions. There are no fairytale endings to either of these productions but there is such beauty in tragedy. Who needs a happy ever after?
Sunday May 29 and Tuesday May 31
Sunday June 5 and Monday June 6
Opera House, Andrássy út 22, District VI
Tickets and information: