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History and Repertoire

Hungarian State Opera House - Budapest

The history of opera on stage spans over 300 years in Hungary, reaching back to the courts of mansions, where German and Italian theatrical companies entertained the guests of their local lord.

Hungarian theatricals started officially in 1791, and both the Pest and the Kolozsvár theatre occassionally staged musical pieces, with music from Rossini, Méhul, Grétry, Weber, Cherubini, Boildieu and Mozart, and gave the world the first famous Hungarian Opera-singer, Róza Széppataki, Déryné.

Hungarian Opera on stage became permanent in 1837, when the Pest Hungarian (called National, from 1840) Theatre opened its doors to the public. The young conductor, Ferenc Erkel, expanded the theatrical company by degrees, and developed a repertoire which included operas from Rossini, Bellini, Weber, Auber, Donizetti, Mozart, Cherubini, Meyerbeer, and especially from Verdi. Erkel himself was the first to write Hungarian operas: Hunyadi László and Bánk bán are still among the most favourite pieces on the repertoire of the Budapest Opera House.

Another great achivement of Erkel was the establishment of the Minstrel Company in 1853, which aimed at improving the music of the orchestra and the skills of the musicians. Establishing an Opera House at a later stage would have been impossible without this important background step of having a well formed orchestra.

Pressure grew on the National Theatre after 1867, to widen its repertoire and seat more guests. In 1872, it was decided that a new theatre would be built to host musical and dance productions. Inviting application was published for its planning, which was won by Miklós Ybl, the already famous Hungarian architect. Construction work begun in 1875, and lasted for 9 years. The last opera production in the National Theatre was staged in June 1884, then the staff moved into the mansion on Sugár út, and started preparations for a grand opening.

Only Hungarian artists, craftsmen and guilds were allowed to work on the construction of the Budapest Opera House, except for the copper chandelier for the auditorium, which was odered from Mainz, and a stage machinery, which was produced by the Asphaleia Co. in Wien. The latter was purchased due to its high effectiveness in extinguishing stage fires, which were all too common those days, and took 400 victims in the Ringtheater in 1881. Safety measures were strictly followed in other aspects of planning and construction as well: divided chair alleys, more emergency exits, and separate stairways for each floor level. Asphaleia was not only the safest, but also the most modern stage machinery of the time. The completed building thus cost more than originally planned, but also became Europe's most sophisticated Opera House, attaining perfect harmony between artistic surface and practical essence.

The grand opening of the Budapest Opera House took place in September 1884. As Ferenc Erkel has not yet completed his opera about King Stephan, the first act of Bánk bán, the overture of Hunyadi László, and the first act of Lohengrin was staged - Ferenc Erkel conducting the orchestra. For a season, the repertoire brought from the National Theatre was continued. The first original performance was Ferenc Erkel's last opera: István király (King Stephan), in 1885.

More than 100 years have come and gone since the grand opening of the Opera House, and the artistic design has not changed at all. Practical changes and innovations were implemented in the building interior, such as installing electricity in 1895, and a larger scale renovation in 1912. The second world war brought only slight damages to the building, and some repainting and recarpeting was done in 1950. Further small changes were brought about in the 1960s, but as time passed, major reconstruction work, especially on the stage area and machinery, became inevitable. After four years of tidious work, the Opera House regained its former splendour in September of 1984, and celebrated its 100 anniversary in luster and magnificence.

The Building itself can be toured every day at 3pm and 4pm, guided tours are offered in the following languages: English, German, Spanish, Italian, French and Hungarian. Group reservations (over 10 people) are possible at: +36-1-332-8197. Price: 2500 HUF (ca. 10 Eur in 2006) for tourists.

Parts of the building can be reserved for various programs, when not occupied by regular theatrical productions. The auditorium seats 1200 people, and can host artistic productions, concerts, gala evenings and conferences. The Székely Bertalan Room fits 80, and can be used for press conferences, chamber concerts, receptions, presentations or dinners. The Red Saloon fits 60, and can accommodate receptions and dinners. The large refreshment hall on the first floor fits 200, receptions can be held there. The stage itself fits 450, and can be used for stage dinners. The entire building fits 1200, and can be reserved for receptions or moviemaking.


Bach, J. S. / Presser G. / Fodor A. A próba ballet
Bartók B. A kékszakállú herceg vára opera
Bellini, V. Norma opera
Bizet, G. Carmen opera
Csajkovszkij, P. I. Pikk dáma - Pikovaja dama opera
Erkel F. Bánk bán opera
Erkel F. Hunyadi László opera
Gyöngyösi L. A gólyakalifa opera
Harangozó Gy. / Delibes, L. Coppélia ballet
Janáček, L. Jenůfa opera
Kacsoh P. János vitéz opera
Kodály Z. Psalmus Hungaricus opera
Kodály Z. Székely fonó opera
Lőcsei J. / Bartók B. A csodálatos mandarin ballet
MacMillan, K. / Liszt F. / Lanchbery, J. Mayerling ballet
Mozart, W. A. A varázsfuvola - Die Zauberflöte opera
Mozart, W. A. Cosi fan tutte opera
Mozart, W. A. Don Giovanni opera
Mozart, W. A. Figaro házassága - Le nozze di Figaro opera
Mozart, W. A. Szöktetés a szerájból - Die Entführung aus dem Serail opera
Mozart, W. A. Titus kegyelme - La clemenza di Tito opera
Petipa, M. / Ivanov, L. / Csajkovszkij, P. I. A hattyúk tava ballet
Petipa, M. / ifj. Harangozó Gy. / Minkus, L. Don Quijote ballet
Petrovics E. C'est la guerre opera
Puccini, G. Bohémélet opera
Puccini, G. Pillangóasszony - Madama Butterfly opera
Puccini, G. Tosca opera
Puccini, G. Turandot opera
Pártay L. / Csajkovszkij, P. I. Anna Karenina ballet
Román S. / Bartók B. A fából faragott királyfi ballet
Rossini, G. A sevillai borbély - Il barbiere di Siviglia opera
Rossini, G. Hamupipőke - La Cenerentola opera
Seregi L. / Delibes, L. Sylvia ballet
Seregi L. / Goldmark K. / Hidas F. A makrancos Kata ballet
Seregi L. / Hacsaturjan, A. Spartacus ballet
Seregi L. / Prokofjev, Sz. Rómeó és Júlia ballet
Sosztakovics, D. Kisvárosi Lady Macbeth - Ledi Makbet mzenskovo ujezda opera
Strauss, J. A denevér - Die Fledermaus opera
Szokolay S. Vérnász opera
Vajda J. Mario és a varázsló opera
Vajnonen, V. / Csajkovszkij, P. I. A diótörő ballet
Verdi, G. A trubadúr - Il trovatore opera
Verdi, G. Aida opera
Verdi, G. Az álarcosbál - Un ballo in maschera opera
Verdi, G. Don Carlos - Don Carlo opera
Verdi, G. Otello opera
Verdi, G. Requiem opera
Verdi, G. Rigoletto opera
Verdi, G. Traviata - La Traviata opera
Wagner, R. A Rajna kincse - Das Rheingold opera
Wagner, R. A nürnbergi mesterdalnokok - Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg opera
Wagner, R. A walkür - Die Walküre opera
Wagner, R. Az istenek alkonya - Götterdämmerung opera
Wagner, R. Parsifal opera
Wagner, R. Siegfried opera
Wagner, R. Tannhäuser opera
ifj. Harangozó Gy. / Kocsák T. Hófehérke és a 7 törpe ballet
Világsztárok Balettgála ballet