Háry János





Prologue – The Tale Begins

In the Hungarian village of Nagyabony people gather at the tavern. A picture of Napoleon hangs on the wall. The regulars and students wait glass in hand for the next tale from the old soldier Háry János.


First Adventure – On the frontier near Moscow

A border crossing point between Galicia and Russia; there is frost and ice on the Russian side, sun shining and flowers blooming on the Hungarian side. János, after having got rid of all his female admirers meets Örzse.

The court chamberlain complains that Mária Lujza and her retinue have not been able to cross the frontier. Örzse and János talk with Marci, a Hungarian coachman working at the French Court, who tells them that Mária Lujza, the daughter of the Emperor, is being refused passage by the Russian guard. János pushes the border gate along the ground, so that she finds herself across the Hungarian frontier. Marci toasts the young couple as Örzse and János sing a duet. Ebelasztin says the noise is disturbing the rest of the princess. However when Mária Lujza enters she takes a fancy to János and invites him to come to Vienna and enter the Imperial Guard. He asks for double rations for his horse, Hungarian livery for Marci, and for Örzse to come with him. The Russian sentry is worried that he will be punished if he is found in the wrong country. Ebelasztin fails to push the frontier post back, but János manages to do it.



Second Adventure – In the Garden of the Imperial Palace, Vienna Burg

The park is resplendent. In the course of conversation between János and Marci Ebelasztin's dislike of János becomes clear. Mária Lujza tells János to seek her if he ever needs assistance. Ebelasztin sends János to the stables where he has to ride the wildest horse, but János returns from the roof unruffled by the ride. Mária Lujza points out János to the Empress. The envious Ebelasztin tells Örzse that he has in his pocket the declaration of war from Napoleon which he intends to use; moments later military sounds emerge from inside the palace. János has been promoted to captain by the Emperor. As the curtain falls an enormous cannon is wheeled on.


Third Adventure – A battlefield near Milan.

Háry János, by now promoted to the rank of colonel, single-handedly wins the battle with the wind from drawing his sword, and has Napoleon kneeling for mercy. The emperor’s wife now wants to win his heart, to the consternation of Örzse. Mária Lujza and Örzse argue over János, who refuses to marry the princess, who in turn threatens suicide. János saves the situation and leads the soldiers in a rousing march.


Fourth Adventure – Imperial Palace, Vienna Burg.

The preparations for the wedding of the hero János and the infatuated princess are under way, but János can't eat. All the archdukes come and pay homage to the hero. Örzse arrives to take leave of Háry but, now an infantryman, he swears allegiance to the Emperor - whether as a soldier or farmer. True to her and to his homeland, despite all the imperial trappings they leave the court.



Back at the inn in Nagyabony, János concludes by telling his sleeping audience that the condition of freeing Napoleon was that a gold watch should be sent to the headman of the village – who replies that he never got it. János states that the only person who can corroborate his story is Örzse – who is now dead.

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April 2019 Next

Erkel Theatre

Opened in 1911 originally, the Erkel Theatre is Hungary’s largest theatre building. Its history is intertwined with the golden age of Hungarian opera performance, with such luminaries as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Éva Marton and Grace Bumbry all having graced the stage of a building whose acoustics are considered the stuff of opera legend.

After being shuttered up for more than five years with its fate in doubt following closure in 2007, the Hungarian government last year provided 1.7 billion forints in grants for the theatre’s renewal, allowing the Hungarian State Opera to renovate the Erkel Theatre to a standard suitable for holding performances.

Much of the refurbishments took place behind the scenes, with soloist and shared dressing rooms and common areas refitted and expanded. In addition, the stage’s technical equipment has undergone significant modernisation, while the building’s service systems (water, plumbing, heating and ventilation) have also been brought up to date.

Audiences will now step into an auditorium with a completely new look, while every effort was made to ensure that the building's fantastic acoustic properties remained unchanged. A factor that will greatly increase comfort is the modern ventilation system installed in the seating area. Although the number of seats has been reduced from 1,935 to 1,819 by refitting the rows of seats for more comfort, the theatre nevertheless retains its rank as the highest capacity theatre in Hungary – and in Eastern Central Europe.

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