The Hungarian operetta is celebrated each year on the 24th of October which is the birthday of the king of Hungarian operetta, Imre Kálmán (1882) and also the day Ferenc Léhár, our other significant operetta-wright died (1948). This is the night when the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre and the Musica Hungarica Publisher give their awards over to talented artists.
What is the operetta? It is a graceful, melodious genre written with the pretence of an opera. The stories are always filled with humour and the main theme is usually love, crazy love. The plot unfolds through prose, and it is joined with musical movements and dance scenes. It was named by Mozart and the word means ‘small opera’.
The history of the Hungarian operetta started with the import of Western operettas from Strauss, Zeller, Millöcker and Offenbach. After the success, Hungarian conductors, script translators and musicians thought to themselves: Why shouldn’t we create our own operettas? This is how it all started in 1885. Since then, Hungarian operetta playing – its passionate and fiery temper, its virtuoso dances and enchanting visuals – has become well-known and acknowledged throughout the world.
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 like Imre Kálmán, Ferenc Lehár, Pál Ábrahám to musical composers like Ferenc Jávori, Tibor Kocsák and Levente Szörényi.
One of the most famous songs of Imre Kálmán’s The Gypsy Princess with historical artists:
The Hungarian Operetta is a Hungaricum since 2014 which makes it part of our cultural heritage.
“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.
It doesn’t show that the operetta is more than a 100 years old. It lives and flourishes, it’s sweet and ludicrous, romantic and sassy. The key of the success is the way Hungarians perform an operetta: passionately, breezily, and keenly. This is how composers dreamt it; this is how they are supposed to be!
Celebrate with us!
Written by Alexandra Béni
Source: Daily News Hungary