To mark the 60th remembrance of the 1956 revolt, Hungarian State Opera has filled the weekend of 21 October with a range of different events. The Friday evening commences with a world première of two one-act operas; “The Mine” by Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara and “Love” by Hungarian composer Judit Varga.
“The Mine”, as its title suggests, is set in a collapsed underground mine as a community strengthens together in an attempt to rise up against the evils of dictatorship.
It is especially interesting to have the chance to experience an opera performed in Finnish, particularly as Hungarian is a distant relative of the same language group, although a lot of the similarity is purely in the grammatical structure. Finnish has a beautiful melody of its own; like ice crystals forming, each syllable delicate, fragile and precise.
“Love” is a contemporary opera, a world première by Judit Varga that is influenced by the work of Tibor Déry. Vilppu Kiljunen is director of both operas, with the conductor Tibor Bogányi.
In contrast, in the Erkel Theatre, a musical titled “56 Drops of Blood” opens on Sunday 23 October and will be performed only twice. This was the very first musical to deal with that darkest moment in history 60 years ago and is composed by Tamás Mihály.
A joint production between Székesfehérvár Vörösmarty Theatre and Hungarian State Opera, “56 Drops of Blood” is especially poignant as the area surrounding the Erkel Theatre itself, Köztársaság Square (now II János Pál Pápa tér), was the site of a massive freedom fight on 30 October 1956.
As well as other events, one of the highlights of the weekend is “Kádár’s Last Speech”, which takes place in the Opera House Trapezium Room. To add to the atmosphere of tension and paranoia, this room is underground.
Tamás Novák is director of this claustrophobic intense drama, created from the final speech of Janos Kádár, in April 1989 to a meeting of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Committee.
The set itself is created from film and audio archives, and brings out the full horror of history, speaking of the executed leaders, László Rajk and Imre Nagy. It is not easy viewing but plays such a vital part of understanding the history that haunts and shapes the country today.
Such a dark history should never ever be forgotten.
“The Mine” and “Love”
21, 27 and 29 October, 3 November
Opera House, Andrássy út 22, District VI
“Kádár’s Last Speech”
23 October until 4 November
(Underground Trapezium Room)
“56 Drops of Blood”
23 & 31 October only
Erkel Theatre, District VIII
II János Pál Pápa tér 30.
Tickets and information: