The Fountain of Bakhchisarai

While the Fountain of Tears bubbles before him, Girey, khan of the Tatars, is lost in brooding. Just as the flow from the marble fount cannot be exhausted, his own sorrow will never diminish, either. The story of the Fountain of Bakhchisarai is set in motion by a romance recounting the reason for the khan's gloom. This work is one of the cornerstones of Russian ballet history, and since its premiere has enjoyed unbroken success as a representative of the genre of ballet drama, in which a dramatic performance is closely intertwined with the use of the classical language of dance and character dances. The choreographer of the work, Rotislav Zakharov, was powerfully drawn to Russian literary sources, making Pushkin's poem of the same title an obvious choice for his work, for which Boris Asafyev composed the music. The subject is a truly dramatic one: a story of jealous love. Khan Girey has fallen wildly into love with Maria, whom he and his Tatars have abducted and forced into his harem just as she was preparing for her wedding. Zarema, the khan's first wife, does not take kindly to this situation. Tragedy is inevitable...

This work has been an important piece in the Hungarian National Ballet's repertoire since it was first premiered at the Opera House in 1952. This season marks the return of the old favourite.

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February 2019

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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