This first week of February was the orientation for the new Fulbrighters in Hungary. Since all of the students are here for the year, these new Fulbrighters are all scholars and professors. Part of their orientation was an evening at the Hungarian State Opera. The opera house itself is gorgeous. Everything is coated with gold leaf. We could have just sat in the building and stared up for two and half hours. The bonus was that we got to see a great production and hear beautiful music in this hall.
The opera we saw was Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. This was the first Wagner opera that I have seen live and I was impressed. I LOVED the orchestra. The brass were powerful and heroic so they were definitely my favorite part of the orchestra. The singers were great as well. We didn't receive a program so I didn't know what to expect. There were maybe 50 or 60 people in the chorus! They sang with a lot of power and drama, the perfect style for Wagner. The story is about a cursed man, the Flying Dutchman, and his crew who are destined to a sort of purgatory where they cannot die and they must continue sailing. That is, until he finds a woman who promises to give him her fidelity until death. The woman, Senta, has always known about the legend of the Flying Dutchman and she hopes that she can be his bride and salvation. When the two meet (after the Dutchman gives Senta's father a huge amount of treasure for his daughter), Senta leaves her boyfriend to devote herself to the Dutchman until death. The opera ends with Senta killing herself and the Flying Dutchman and his crew finally being able to die. It was dramatic and I enjoyed it. I found this promotional video where you can get a glimpse of the performance.
I enjoyed the use of technology to create neat scenes, especially the sky at night. The large light screen on the stage was also effective in giving the sense of actually being on the coast and seeing the ships in the ocean. We were not totally sure what the meanings of the black light effects and the shirts with faces were. Yet, I really enjoyed the performance. I hope we have another chance to attend an opera while we are here.
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