Ez történt

Bid farewell in style

2001. 11. 28.

It is rare to be able to sense from the happy buzz of the public leaving the Music Academy that the concert gave them such a memorable experience that it survived the scrum to retrieve hats and coats. On a ghastly November evening, when the final concert was heard of the National Choir's Verdi series (which began in January 2001), the audience seemed to depart from the building amid an explosion of good spirits. One should only bid farewell with style – I sang to myself a popular little ditty, not without reason, since Un giorno di regno is choc-a-bloc with such melodies as were on the lips of people in the 1840s. Verdi's early work is not particularly original: there are more reminiscences of Rossini, Donizetti and even Auber, than his own musical thoughts, but there remains ample indication of how he would develop. As in his masterpieces, besides immeasurable pain, there is always the glimmer of hope, the grotesque counterpointing the wild anger.
What a shame that Tamás Pál's beautifully chosen series has come to an end, but how good it was that it should end this way with such an exciting and spectacular evening. The conductor announced the roles, and said some words about this opera which that may conceivably have never been performed in Hungary before. As he said, and as can be seen in opera guides, the libretto was based on true facts. His hero is Stanislaw Lesczinszky, the pretender to the Polish throne. How he tricks his enemies, and gets Knight Belfiore to be his double – well, this is the basic situation of the opera. Of course, the classical comic 'who's who' situation is also coloured by love stories: the elderly men are in pursuit of young girls, who finally marry the two young knights.
The line up of singers underwent some changes, but we did not mind since it was good to see and hear Ionel Pantea in the role of Baron Kelbar. Last year, György Selmeczi invited him to sing Leporello in Don Giovanni. Pantea is an actor/singer on the European level, who with his towering security and remarkable technique can take possession of the musical aspect of the role on the stage and on the concert podium as well. He has problems bringing the character to life, but he is enjoyable, interesting and memorable. He would be self explanatory on the opera stage, but some fresh, domestic experience unfortunately forces us to register this other quality. Alfredo Garcia, in the role of Belfiore, the false-Stanislav, with his pleasant organ-like baritone, created an enjoyable figure. Marquess Poggio was played by Éva Szonda, who is a soloist at the Szeged Opera Company. This is worthwhile stressing, because in the provinces (which have fewer funds than the capital), there is a division of work and a moral stance that sees artists appearing in the lead role one night, and as a character figure the next, and giving their best in both. Szonda is such an artist, her voice is velvety and her coloratura skills make her the ideal alto primadonna and an authentic performer.
The National Choir was in prime form in the choruses. The MÁV Symphony Orchestra had the previous evening performed a symphonic poem by Richard Strauss, again at the Music Academy. This seems to have done wonders for the orchestra and they sounded very rich under Tamás Pál. The conductor guided this large scale production with elemental power and unity. It is indeed good to bid farewell in style.

Verdi: Un giorno di regno
Final performance of the National Choir's Verdi series at the Music Academy

Mária Albert
(Magyar Hírlap,  November 28th 2001.)