The Hungarian State Opera Orchestra

zenekar2_foto_emmer_laszloThe Hungarian State Opera Orchestra is the oldest functioning theatre orchestra in Hungary. Due to the vast selection of performances offered by the Opera, it is the most employed Hungarian symphony orchestra. Its roots reach back as far as 1838, when Ferenc Erkel organised an opera orchestra for the Hungarian Theatre of Pest (later: National Theatre). In 1853, also under the leadership of Erkel, the musicians started to organise their independent concerts under the name of the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra thus forming the first concert orchestra of Hungary. The National Theatre Orchestra moved into their present home, the Opera House after its inauguration in 1884 and was presided over by such notable principal music directors as Ferenc Erkel, Sándor Erkel, Gustav Mahler, István Kerner, János Ferencsik, Ádám Medveczky or János Kovács. The list of other great conductors who have made an impact on the orchestra include Egisto Tango, Sergio Failoni, Otto Klemperer, Ervin Lukács, Miklós Erdélyi, Géza Oberfrank, György Győriványi Ráth and Ádám Fischer. Since March 2016, the orchestra has been directed by Balázs Kocsár.

In the course of its history, Hungarian and world premieres of numerous operas and ballet pieces featured the orchestra. Most of Bartók’s stage works and all of those by Kodály premiered at the Opera House, but operas by other significant composers such as Hubay, Dohnányi, Ránki, Szokolay and János Vajda made their debut with the Opera Orchestra. It was headed by renowned Hungarian composers Kodály, Dohnányi, Petrovics and Péter Eötvös as well as international opera composers like Mascagni, Respighi and Richard Strauss. Apart from excellent generations of Hungarian opera singers, the orchestra accompanied the greatest stars. Mario del Monaco, Nicolai Gedda, Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballé, José Carreras, Cecilia Bartoli, Erwin Schrott, Jonas Kaufmann, Plácido Domingo, Bryn Terfel and René Pape are only a few to mention as it would almost be impossible to list all the famous artists who have appeared at the performances and concerts of the Opera alongside the orchestra with the longest history in Hungary.