Stephen, the King

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Synopsis

István, the son of Grand Prince Géza, and the Bavarian princess Gizella are married. The people pray for the couple. In the festive atmosphere, the three Hungarian lords Bese, Solt, and Sur are already fantasising about their future successes. Réka, the Christian daughter of Duke Koppány, is praying, asking for the conversion of the pagans, when she is interrupted by one of her father’s pagan men, Laborc, who rejects the new God. After the death of Géza, Koppány and István have a falling out at the funeral: Koppány had been hoping, to no avail, that Géza’s death would absolve the former promise of István inheriting the throne.

 

The people ask for the peace of God, after which István and his mother Sarolt are entertained by folk musicians, which István finds to be overly old-fashioned. That’s when Laborc arrives at the scene. As a messenger from Koppány, he asks Sarolt to continue the ancient tradition of marrying him so they could rule together. Sarolt rejects the proposal and has Laborc executed. The three profit-seeking lords again show up, this time taking István’s side. However, he does not fall for their worthless flattery. After Sur, Solt, and Bese leave, István gives voice to his doubts, but Sarolt fills him with hope. Others are also dissatisfied: Gizella wants more from István as a husband, and the knight Vecellin wants more from him as a military leader. Asztrik, the head of the missionaries, appoints István Grand Prince.

 

Duke Koppány and his shaman Torda address Koppány’s followers. His admirers Boglárka, Enikő, and Picúr try to woo him, but the Duke resists. The three turncoat gentlemen arrive with the news that István has been appointed Grand Prince. They are now trying their luck by siding with Koppány, but he does not support them, either. Torda makes the most of the tension in the air, kindling the fire of the Duke’s belligerence and proceeding to make a sacrifice to the ancient gods. Réka tells her father about a nightmare she had, where she saw him quartered as a traitor. However, Koppány sees no solution than to take up the fight. István now arrives on scene and offers to hand over his power to Koppány on condition he turns to Rome, but Koppány does not accept the throne. Torda arrives with a bloody sword and a call to arms. In the battle, Koppány suffers a humiliating defeat.

 

Women, elders, and children mourn the victims of the battle, the fight between two siblings. The victorious army celebrates István when Réka arrives to ask for her father’s body so she may bury him. István would be happy to fulfil the girl’s request, but Sarolt opposes her, and issues her command: “Quarter his body!” Koppány’s body is cut in four, and the people praise István. The Abbot Asztrik crowns István in the name of God, using the crown provided by the pope.

 

Program and cast

Conductor
István
Zoltán Nyári
Dániel Pataky
Sarolt
Ildikó Komlósi
Andrea Ulbrich
Gizella
Rita Rácz
Kinga Kriszta
Asztrik
Zoltán Bátki Fazekas
András Káldi Kiss
Vecellin
Attila Dobák
Koppány
Antal Cseh
Torda
Boldizsár László
Péter Balczó
Laborc
Attila Fekete
Szemenyei János
Réka
Máthé Beáta
Gabriella Balga
Bese
János Szerekován
Solt
Zoltán Megyesi
Sur
András Kőrösi
First Narrator
Zoltán Bátki Fazekas
Second Narrator
András Káldi Kiss
First bard
Péter Kiss
Second bard
Tivadar Kiss
Shamaness
Lusine Sahakyan
Boglárka
Zsófia Nagy
Enikő
Diána Kiss
Picur
Laura Topolánszky
A mourner
Tamás Szüle
Kolos Kováts

Hungarian State Opera

The Opera House is not only one of the most significant art relic of Budapest, but the symbol of the Hungarian operatic tradition of more than three hundred years as well. The long-awaited moment in Hungarian opera life arrived on September 27, 1884, when, in the presence of Franz Joseph I. the Opera House was opened amid great pomp and ceremony. The event, however, erupted into a small scandal - the curious crowd broke into the entrance hall and overran the security guards in order to catch a glimpse of the splendid Palace on Sugar út. Designed by Mikós Ybl, a major figure of 19th century Hungarian architecture, the construction lived up to the highest expectations. Ornamentation included paintings and sculptures by leading figures of Hungarian art of the time: Károly Lotz, Bertalan Székely, Mór Than and Alajos Stróbl. The great bronze chandelier from Mainz and the stage machinery moda by the Asphaleia company of Vienna were both considered as cutting-edge technology at that time.

 

Many important artists were guests here including Gustav Mahler, the composer who was director in Budapest from 1887 to 1891. He founded the international prestige of the institution, performing Wagner operas as well as Magcagni’ Cavalleria Rusticana. The Hungarian State Opera has always maintained high professional standards, inviting international stars like Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Monserrat Caballé, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, José Cura, Thomas Hampson and Juan Diego Flórez to perform on its stage. The Hungarian cast include outstanding and renowed artists like Éva Marton, Ilona Tokody, Andrea Rost, Dénes Gulyás, Attila Fekete and Gábor Bretz.

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