Hungarian Opera Day has been celebrated on Ferenc Erkel’s birthday (November 7) since 2013. On this day, announcements are made, awards presented, and operas performed, typically at theaters around Hungary.
Erkel (1810-1893) is perhaps most famous for composing Hungary’s National anthem (“Himnusz”), adopted in 1944 and is also considered the father of Hungarian grand opera. He also headed up the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra was a director and piano teacher at the Hungarian Academy of Music, and served as musical director of the Hungarian State Opera House, which opened in 1884.
Erkel Theater was first opened in 1911 and was made part of the Hungarian State Opera House in 1951.
In commemoration of the composer’s birthday, Péter Fekete, State Secretary for Culture at the Ministry of Human Resources, presented a Ministerial Certificate of Honor to several professionals for all of the work they do behind the scenes to make performances possible.
A number of other awards and recognitions were also handed out, including Minister’s Certificate of Recognition. Imre Dózsa, recipient of Kossuth and Ferenc Liszt prizes, was presented with the Jubilee award. Judit Németh received this year’s Zoltán Závodszky Award for outstanding performance in Wagner performances, and János Bándi took home the Mary Sudlik Prize. Artists and staff who have worked as public servants at the opera for 25 years also received a jubilee gold commemorative ring.
Ókovács announced that the opera house will also initiate streaming of works on the biggest online platforms in order to promote Hungarian opera, including four pieces by Ferenc Erkel.
The Hungarian University of Dance (MTE) and the Hungarian State Opera also signed an official cooperation agreement. The two institutions have been working together for decades and will continue to operate independently, said Szilveszter Ókovács, Director General of the event.
Students studying ballet, folk dance, and contemporary dance at MTE will now be able to practice at the opera and perform on stage, and there will be various internships and scholarships available. Other areas of cooperation will cover: education, the provision of public stage exams, dual employment of ballet masters and pianists, and matters regarding dance programs and publications.