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2nd Debrecen Festival, a Celebration of Musical Theatre

This summer, for the second time, the five-year-old Coopera will organise the Debrecen Festival, a series of summer events from 31st July to 15th August 2022, focusing on music, theatre, and opera. The 2022 festival has become a truly colourful all-around arts programme, with opera, theatre, and music, as well as musical literature and documentary film evenings, to add to the cultural offer for all ages. All of these excellent productions bring the best of the best to audiences in Debrecen and beyond.

The 16-day festival will be held at the city’s iconic venues, Kossuth Square and the Nagyerdei Open Air Stage, but new venues will also be added to the palette. The Csokonai Literary Lab, which will host literary evenings and screen documentaries, and the Kodály Music School, where a bel canto masterclass will be held as part of the Debrecen Festival, mainly for opera singers in need of professional support. The master of the course is the world-renowned tenor Ramón Vargas, a lecturer at the Vienna Academy of Music.

Ramon Vargas

László Papp, Mayor of Debrecen, said that he is confident that the Debrecen Festival will enrich the cultural life of Debrecen with a major event of international renown.

“Debrecen has an extremely diverse cultural life, but we do not consider this to be a permanent state of affairs and we would like to host more high-quality programmes. The Debrecen Festival was a new addition to the carnival week last year and was an immediate success. The sold-out performances in the city’s iconic venues have become a celebration of Hungarianness and Hungarian culture. From the very beginning, we were thinking of creating a tradition in Debrecen with this series of programmes, opening up more and more to the international scene.”

The Debrecen Festival will open on 31 July 2022 with Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute by the Csokonai Theatre company. The opening performance will be directed by theatre director Péter Gemza:

“The Debrecen Festival is a true celebration of the city, a celebration of musical theatre. It is a great pleasure for me that this year’s Festival season will open with the opera production of the Csokonai Theatre, The Magic Flute, so that the people of Debrecen and visitors to the city can celebrate together for two weeks. Mozart’s masterpiece will be presented from a new perspective in the special atmosphere of the Nagyerdei Open-Air Stage. It is no coincidence that we chose The Magic Flute as the opening performance, as it speaks to all ages in the language of opera and its message is valid for all situations in life. The production will be performed in Hungarian with English subtitles, thus joining Debrecen’s efforts to attract foreigners to our city with as many cultural programmes as possible.”

On the 2nd August, the Nagyerdei Open-Air Stage will also be filled with music, with the Harghita National Szekler Folk Ensemble and the Hungarian Heritage Award-winning István Pál Szalonna and his Band performing with their guests at the Szekler Evening without Borders, folk dance and folk music evening celebrating the exceptionally rich Hungarian folklore.

On the 8th August, Kossuth Square will also be part of the programme – László Tolcsvay, Péter Müller and Péter Müller’s 30th Sziámi. A new production of the rock opera The Gospel of Mary, which tells the story of the Virgin Mary, will be staged by LantArt Production with the participation of the genre’s outstanding singers and artists, directed by Tamás Juronics, with the dance artists of the Szeged Contemporary Ballet and the orchestra and choir of the Győr National Theatre.

On 9th August, at the Hungarians in Hollywood evening, the Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a concert show of the most famous works of Hungarian and Hungarian-born Hollywood filmmakers. The evening will be conducted by Dániel Somogyi-Tóth, Chief Music Director of the City of Debrecen:

“From the very conception of the Debrecen Festival, it has been intended to focus on high culture. Debrecen is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination, and it is our intention to make the Debrecen Festival an artistic highlight for those interested in culture, including music, opera, and theatre. We have been working with Dr. Daniel Vadász personally and through our institutions for many years. The resident orchestra of the Festival, organised by Coopera, could not be other than the Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra, who participate in the programmes in a significant capacity – and it is a particular pleasure for me to be able to conduct several exciting productions during the festival.”

Somogyi-Tóth Dániel

This year, two world-renowned artists of their respective genres will celebrate their birthdays at the Debrecen Festival with a spectacular gala. On the 10th of August, opera singer Andrea Rost, winner of the Kossuth, Prima Primissima, and Liszt Ferenc prizes, will be the guest of Debrecen. At the Round World birthday gala concert, she will perform in a variety of musical genres, including folk, world music, klezmer and jazz, and of course opera. On the 11th August, the Nagyerdő will be full of Hungarian operetta gems as the uncrowned queen of the genre, Kossuth Prize winner Marika Oszvald, celebrates her birthday and will dazzle the audience with her well-known tunes. 7Oszvald Marika – at the operetta gala, she will sing the greatest hits and reminisce about their stories together with Mónika Fischl, Zsuzsa Kalocsai, Szilvi Szendy, László Csere, Péter Laki, Károly Peller and Zsolt Vadász. The Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra of Debrecen – László Makláry and Dániel Somogyi-Tóth.

Oszvald Marika

After the concerts of the birthday celebrants, the festival will commemorate another significant anniversary – Coopera will pay tribute to Zoltán Kodály, the leading figure in Hungarian music, with a gala concert to mark the 140th anniversary of his birth. On the 13th of August, an all-arts gala concert entitled “Tell me what you sing, I’ll tell you who you are” will bring to life the composer’s important works and milestones in his life. The gala evening, based on the creative ideas of director-choreographer Péter Novák, will feature renowned soloists such as Viktória Mester, Péter Balczó, and Lajos Kendi, as well as the Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kodály Choir, the Lautitia Children’s Choir and the Debrecen Hajdú Dance Ensemble.

The Debrecen Festival will close with a real classical music treat for the public on Kossuth Square. On the 15th of August, the Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra Debrecen, conducted by Dániel Somogyi-Tóth, will give a concert with the world-famous opera singer Ramón Vargas. The first part of the concert will feature Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No IX “New World”, followed by the second half of the programme, which will feature the most popular tenor arias from the operatic repertoire.

Kodály Filharmonikusok (Philharmonic Orchestra)

Festival director Dániel Vadász, the founder of Coopera, wants to create a brand that influences public thinking, with a strong artistic value and a dedicated mission, marking significant cultural encounters year after year. The community-shaping power of culture makes it particularly important to choose responsibly the performances that are presented to the public.

“We see one of the great challenges of the Debrecen Festival as filling the festival with stories that, in addition to being spiritually uplifting, offer our audiences a sense of direction, while encouraging meaningful conversations, and that have a community-building effect and encourage the sharing of traditions. We want to offer a space for performances, concerts, and initiatives that will engage the audience for months. The commitment of the people of Debrecen to culture is outstanding, which is why we consider it very important to enrich the cultural life of the city with performances of the quality that such a receptive community deserves. Come, let’s fill up together! We look forward to welcoming you at the 2nd Debrecen Festival!”

The performances are open to all those with a student, teacher, or pensioner’s pass. Discounts are also available for spectators who buy tickets for several different performances at the same time.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the Debrecen Festival website.

Debrecen Festival
31st July – 15th August 2022

Sunday 31st July 2022 8:30 p.m.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – The Magic Flute

Nagyerdei Open Air Stage
Rainy day – 1st August

In the special atmosphere of the Nagyerdei Open-Air Stage, Mozart’s masterpiece will be presented from a new perspective. The opening performance of the Debrecen Festival speaks to all ages in the language of opera, and its message is relevant to all situations in life. The production is performed in Hungarian with English subtitles.

“Fairy tales, and consequently operas based on fairy tales, are always saturated with symbolic images of the subconscious, which are directly related to and have an impact on the human psyche. These images are universal motifs of the collective unconscious, and their multiplicity allows free association and requires interpretation. The special feature of the Magic Flute is that it transforms the fairy-tale plot into an opera of initiation. I would like the opera we create to lift young and old alike out of their everyday lives and take them on a special initiation where the soul is lifted.”

Director: Péter Gemza

Tuesday 2nd August 20.30 p.m.
Szekely Evening without Border
Nagyerdei Open Air Stage
Rainy day – August 3rd.

The Székely Evening without Borders celebrates the exceptionally rich Hungarian folklore through the diverse folk music and folk dance culture of Szeklerland itself. The two-part gala evening will feature a performance by the internationally acclaimed Harghita National Szekler Folk Ensemble, which has been a professional ensemble since 1970 and has been registered as such for more than 30 years. The performance gives an insight into the less-known dance and music culture of the Gheorghe Basin. The creators of the production have been travelling from village to village since the early 2000s, getting to know, collecting, and recording the folk music and folk dance traditions of the basin. Using these and earlier collections, the production enchants the audience with never-before-seen movements, songs, instrumental combinations, and stories. In addition to the area’s traditional dances and songs, the show also includes innovative forms of early civilisation and the Székely dance teachers, acknowledging their importance, their right to exist, and their folkloristic value. The Harghita National Szekler Folk Ensemble has toured China, and Western Europe, and performed at the World Expositions in Hanover, Zaragoza, Shanghai, and Yeosu, Korea, in addition to numerous performances in the Hungarian regions.

The performance was supported by the NKA.

Director-choreographer – Tamás Farkas, Ágnes Farkas
Choreographers, dance masters: Tünde Laczkó- Benedek, Szabolcs Bara
Music editors: Orsolya András, Attila Mihó

In the second half of the evening, the Hungarian Heritage Prize winner István Pál Szalonna and his Band will lead the audience through the traditions of Szeklerland’s musical culture together with their guests. The band, led by István Pál Szalonna, a Liszt Prize winner and recipient of the Hungarian Cross of Merit, is dedicated to preserving and passing on the culture of the Carpathian Basin. The ensemble has performed in almost every part of the Carpathian Basin and the country and has also taken part in numerous tours abroad, playing for the British Royal Family, including Prince Charles of Wales and Margaret Thatcher.

Performers – István Pál Szalonna and his Band, Eszter Pál

Recommended for ages between 6-99

Monday 8th August 20.30 p.m.
László Tolcsvay – Péter Müller – Péter Müller Siamese – Gospel of Mary – rock opera
Kossuth Square

Rainy day – 9th August

The rock opera The Gospel of Mary, which premiered 30 years ago at the Madách Theatre, has since become a recurring hit on the domestic, international, and European stages, telling the story of the Virgin Mary. From her youth, through the birth of Christ and his death on the cross, to Mary’s ascension, we follow the events in the visionary interpretation of the Apostle John. At the heart of the work is Mary’s motherhood, the painful fate of a woman and her son, with all its beauty and struggles. LantArt Productions’ performance is directed by Tamás Juronics and features the work of the genre’s outstanding singers and artists. The main roles are played by Barbara Bordás, Sándor György-Rózsa, Tamás Földes and Péter Novák. With the participation of the Szeged Contemporary Ballet and the orchestra and choir of the Győr National Theatre.

Cast –
Mária – Barbara Bordás
Jesus – Sándor György-Rózsa
Apostle John – Tamás Földes
Joseph – Kristóf Ódor
Herod – Péter Novák
Ears – Péter Laki
Blind – András P. Petőcz
Child Jesus Endrődy Farkas
Gabriel – György Hanczár
Michael – Gábor Kovács
Raphael – Antóni Norbert
Gáspár – András Kőrösi
Menyhért – Bence Pataki
Boldizsár – Ozsgyáni Mihály
Pastor 1 – Zoltán Kiss
Pastor 2 – Márton Vincze
Pastor 3 – András Sütő

With the participation of the Szeged Contemporary Ballet and the orchestra and choir of the Győr National Theatre

The organisers reserve the right to change the cast!
Music – László Tolcsvay
Libretto – Péter Müller
Poems – Péter Müller Siamese
Music director – Gábor Werner
Conductor – Szabolcs Medveczky
Choirmaster – Eszter Balogh
accompanist – Wanda Mazalin
Associate choreographer – Gergely Czár
Set Designer – Balázs Cziegler
Costume Designer – Mari Benedek
Costume Designer – Katalin Böhm
Technical Director – Péter Somfai
Stage designer – Attila Tóth Kázmér
Attendant – Attila Terjék
Help – Katalin Szilárd
Lighting Designer – József Dreiszker
Chief Sound Engineer – Tamás Kurina
Assistant Director – Eszter Kiss
Director, choreographer – Tamás Juronics
Producer – LantArt Produkció
Co-production partners – Győri National Theatre, Csiky Gergely Theatre Kaposvár
Sponsor – Ministry of Human Resources, National Cultural Fund
Co-production partners – Győri National Theatre logo, Csiky Gergely Theatre
Media partner – Papageno
The rock opera will be performed under an agreement with Proscenium Copyright Agency, representing the authors.
Recommended age 12+

Tuesday 9th of August at 20.30 p.m.
Hungarians in Hollywood
Nagyerdei Outdoor Stage
Rainy day – 10th of August

The festival’s resident symphony orchestra, the Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra, will perform the most famous works of Hungarian and Hungarian-born Hollywood composers and filmmakers in a film music concert show.

“It’s not enough to be Hungarian, you have to be talented.” Opinions are divided as to who among Hollywood Hungarian filmmakers could have said this quote. Because there were a few of them there a good century ago, at the beginning. In the 1910s, the “founding fathers” – Adolph Zukor and Vilmos Fried (Fox). Then came the directors – Mihály Kertész (Curtiz), George Cukor. The Korda brothers dropped in. Miklós Rózsa was one of the most sought-after and successful composers of film music in the mid-twentieth century. The Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert show, creatively produced by Tamás Kollarik, Dániel Somogyi-Tóth, Sándor Takó and Dániel Vadász, will recall the most famous works of Hungarian and Hungarian-born Hollywood filmmakers.

Contributors – Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra Debrecen
Conductor – Dániel Somogyi-Tóth

Wednesday 10th August 20.30 p.m.
Round World – Birthday gala concert of Andrea Rost

Kossuth Square
Rainy day – 11th of August

The world star Hungarian opera singer will celebrate her 60th birthday in 2022. It is impossible to list all the opera houses where she has sung – because there is almost no renowned stage in the world where she has not sung. Just the most important – the Staatsoper in Vienna, the Salzburg Festival, the Metropolitan in New York, La Scala in Milan, Opéra Bastille in Paris, the Royal Opera in London, the Lyric Opera in Chicago, the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Sao Paulo Opera, the San Francisco Opera, the Los Angeles Opera and the National Opera in Washington DC.

In Hungary, he would like to celebrate his birthday with a spectacular gala concert, where he will perform in several musical genres, be it folk music, world music, klezmer or jazz, and of course opera. This concert is her gift to her audience, because she loves to give more than to receive, and singing is what keeps her happy, whatever the number of years.

Thursday 11th of August 8:30 p.m.
7Oszvald Marika – operetta gala
Nagyerdei Open Air Stage
Rainy day – 12 August

This year, the operetta is not missing from the programme of the Debrecen Festival. The uncrowned queen of the operetta genre, the Kossuth Prize winner Marika Oszvald, will perform with her friends at a gala instead.

She will sing the greatest hits of Kálmán, Lehár, Huszka and Ábrahám, and will reminisce about their stories with Mónika Fischl, Zsuzsa Kalocsai, Szendy Szilvi, László Csere, Péter Laki, Károly Peller and Zsolt Vadász.

Performers – Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra Debrecen
Conducted by – László Makláry and Dániel Somogyi-Tóth

Saturday 13th August 8:30 p.m.
“Tell me what you sing, I’ll tell you who you are.”
140 years with Kodály
Kossuth Square
Rainy day – 14th August.

Coopera wishes to honour Zoltán Kodály, a leading figure in Hungarian music, with a gala concert to mark the 140th anniversary of the birth of the three-time Kossuth Prize winner and Hungarian composer, musicologist, music teacher, and folk music researcher, who was awarded the title of Outstanding Artist. The concert programme will recall the important stages and works of the life of one of our greatest folk song collectors, a composer who laid the foundations and traditions of Hungarian music education. The programme will include excerpts from the opera János Háry and the iconic song play Székelyfonó, performed by renowned opera singers such as Viktória Mester, Péter Balczó and Lajos Kendi, as well as the winners of the 2021 Coopera Musicum Laude Singing Competition – Csilla Kovács, Valentina Puşcaş and Zsuzsanna Kapi – interpreted by Csilla Kovács, Valentina Puşcaş and Zsuzsanna Kapi. The concert will also feature the Te Deum of Buda, composed for the 250th anniversary of the reconquest of Buda from the Turks. The gala evening will also feature performances by the resident music ensembles of the Debrecen Festival – the Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kodály Choir, as well as the Lautitia Children’s Choir and the Debrecen Hajdú Dance Ensemble. The musical fabric is enhanced by visuals and choreography brought to life by the creative ideas of director Péter Novák.

Performances by –
Viktória Mester
Péter Balczó
Lajos Kendi
Zsuzsanna Kapi
Csilla Kovács
Valentina Puşcaş

Performers – Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra Debrecen, Kodály Choir Debrecen, Lautitia Children’s Choir, Debrecen Hajdú Dance Ensemble

Assistant Director – György Magyar
Director – Péter Novák
Producer – Dr. Vadász Dániel

Monday 15th August 8.30 p.m.
Night of Classics

Kossuth Square
Venue – Kölcsey Centre

Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. IX is a masterful blend of “American music” and classical composition. The Czech master came to America from his professorship at the Prague Conservatory – at the invitation of the millionaire colonial merchant Thurber’s culture-hungry wife, Mrs Jeanette – to take up the post of director of the New York Conservatory. He spent three years in the New World, and in 1893 he premiered his wildly successful Symphony No. IX, which was later called ‘From the New World’. Dvořák made a conscious effort to give his composition a distinctly ‘American’ character. He was keenly interested in local Indian folk songs and spirituals. He and one of his students, a young black boy, often conversed about folk music, exchanging their folk songs – the melody of Goin’ home was included in the Largo movement. The symphony itself was written in a small American town inhabited mainly by Czechs – the contrast between the bustling city and the rural idyll is also reflected in the composition. The work is one of the best-known pieces of classical music, and its melodies have enjoyed unbroken popularity. Its motifs also appear in film scores such as The Seven Snipers.

In the second half of the programme, the audience will hear a selection of the most popular tenor arias from the operatic repertoire, performed by the world-famous artist Ramón Vargas. A professor at the Vienna Academy of Music, he has performed in all the world’s major opera houses, singing all the major roles. It is a great honour to welcome him to the stage of the Debrecen Festival and to have him as a featured performer at the closing concert.

Performing – Ramón Vargas, opera singer
Performer –
Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra Debrecen
Conductor –
Dániel Somogyi-Tóth