Budapest Operetta Theater

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Budapesti Operettszínház - The Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre

 

History



Until the beginning of World War I. the building housed an orpheum bar. When the war broke out "the palace of entertainment" closed, marking the end of the golden age of the orpheum. This is meant the end of what was later nostalgically called "the happy times of peace."

In 1923 the city of Budapest decided to give the genre of operetta a home of its own. With the opening of the Metropolitan Operetta Theatre the Hungarian capital saw the beginning of the "silver operetta" period by giving a new and permanent home to the genre after Népszínház and Király Színház. In the history of the theatre the most important thing was to cherish the traditions of the classic operetta while enriching it with modern artistic solutions. Next to Vienna Budapest is the other capital of the operetta and anyone who comes to our theatre can see the high quality of the genre represented here.

The theatre has had such legendary artists in the ensemble as Hanna Honthy, Marika Németh, Zsuzsa Petress, Anna Zentai, Kamill Feleki, Kálmán Latabár, Sándor Németh, Róbert Rátonyi or János Sárdy.


Building


The Operetta Theatre's present house was built after the plans of the famous Viennese architect-duo Fellner and Helmer in 1894. The spacious stage of the main auditorium were surrounded by intimate booths in a half-circle on both sides, while a dance floor ensured enough room for the waltz, polka, mazurka and the galopp. Its decorative winter garden housed the most exquisite French restaurant, while on the street front a concert café was opened.

In 1966 the building was rearranged, whereby the inner architecture and rooms were changed to a great extent. Between 1999 and 2001 it was completely refurbished. The most modern European stage technology was built in and the beautiful original decoration was regained along with the balcony row of the auditorium.

Today the theatre has 901 seats in an air-conditioned auditorium.

The former objects which remained in the building - lamp statues and columns keeping the row of boxes - are in perfect harmony with the new colourful glass windows, the mirrors, the period furniture of the buffet and the wooden floor.

The auditorium is lit by a hundred-year old chandelier. The row of boxes, the golden stuccos, the walls dressed in velvet and the allegorical statuettes decorating the entrance elevate your theatre evening into a real feast.

The inner space was designed by Mária Siklós and Gábor Schinagl. The management of the Budapest Operetta Theatre considers it its duty to work as a multifunctional cultural centre in local art and social like in this beautifully refurbished building of old grandeur.


Today

In these days under the direction of Miklós-Gábor Kerényi - KERO®, the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre consists of two departments, which present classic Hungarian operettas, contemporary Hungarian musicals, and literature or history-based youth oriented pieces. With 500 annual shows and 400 thousand spectators this theatre is the most popular one of Hungary today.

Hungarian operetta playing - its passionate and fiery temper, its virtuoso dances and enchanting visuals - is well-known and acknowledged throughout the world. "There are several music venues in each city, where you can listen to good music, but operetta has only one address: Nagymező street 17, Budapest" - wrote the journal Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, when Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre first presented The Gypsy Princess in Germany. In the last few years Gerard Presgurvic's Romeo and Juliet - based on Shakespeare's world-famous drama - has been the most popular show in Hungary and last year Sylvester Levay's Rebecca - based on Daphne du Maurier's novel - drew the most spectators.

Since the mid-sixties, the theatre's repertoire contains the most popular musical shows as well. Its aim is to present the widest variety of works of Hungarian composers from operetta authors Emmerich Kálmán, Franz Lehár, Pál Ábrahám, Jenő Huszka, Albert Szirmai and Szabolcs Fényes to musical composers Ferenc Jávori, Tibor Kocsák, Béla Szakcsi Lakatos, Sylvester Levay and Levente Szörényi. Works, such as the Gypsy Princess, Countess Maritza, Gypsy Love, Ball at the Savoy, Baroness Lili, Mike the Magnate, Miss Saigon, Rebecca, Romeo and Juliet, Elisabeth, Mozart!, Abigail, the rock opera With You, Lord!, and the world-musical edition of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.

The creative team of the theatre plays a vital part in staging these works in co-production with the theatres of Saint Petersburg, Bucharest, Yekaterinburg, Prague, Salzburg and Erfurt and its company regularly presents gala shows in several countries in Europe and Asia. In 2011, the theatre won the exclusive rights to play the musical 'The Beauty and the Beast' in Germany (Munich, Cologne, Dresden, Mannheim and Düsseldorf, respectively) and Austria. After the successful Lehár and Lévay singing competitions, the theatre (that has been granted a SuperBrand status this year) is going to organize the Imre Kálmán International Operetta-Musical Conductor Competition in 2012.

The written and the electronic media discuss new premieres and show in their central pages, while commercials and promotion are sponsored by the most significant Hungarian media.

The theatre's leading soloists are real stars, who excel with their achievements and personalities and who enjoy the attention of the media.

CD-d and DVD-s of shows soon become gold and platina albums and DVD-s sell in the thousands.

Tens of thousands of young fans follow the events at the theatre and wait for the actors at the stage door. They analyze and discuss shows on internet forums and are present at every important event, which the theatre e-mails them about.