Following the closure of the Budapest Opera House, the annual gala night of the Opera took place at the Erkel Theatre on 10 February 2018. As the season focused on Wagner, his works and composers inspired by him, the event was entitled Ring Gala.
After two balls and two galas in previous years, the carnival opera gala of the Hungarian State Opera was organised at a new venue. Although the event welcomed audiences at a less spectacular place than the neo-renaissance Opera House, the gala still remained elegant and featured international guest stars in its colourful programme. Joining our list of illustrious past guests Vesselina Kassarova, Angela Gheorghiu, Plácido Domingo, Kristian Benedikt and Ildebrando d’Arcangelo was a musical couple making our carnival season: Roberto Alagna, one of the world's most celebrated tenors, and his wife, the Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak.
The gala hosted by television presenter Noémi Morvai and general director Szilveszter Ókovács was conducted by general music director Balázs Kocsár. It was directed by artistic director Ferenc Anger and ballet director Tamás Solymosi, aided by assistant director András Aczél and chorus director Gábor Csiki.
The gala featured leading soloists, ballet dancers and musicians as well as the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus, artists of the Hungarian National Ballet, and students of the Hungarian National Ballet Institute. The programme began with the overture of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg followed by the opening waltz performed by 50 young amateur dancers, choreographed by András Nádasdy to the music of Ring-Walzer paraphrased by composer Róbert Gulya. Further highlights included The Sleeping Beauty Waltz choreographer by Kornélia Mráz, Wayne Eagling’s Duet performed by Aliya Tanykpayeva and Balázs Majoros, a selection from the 19th century opera repertoire performed by Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak, Italian mezzo-soprano and two singers of the Opera: Lúcia Megyesi Schwartz and Csaba Szegedi. Another notable performance was the appearance of Balázs Földváry, a Röhnrad artist, who made Puccini’s Humming Chorus even more spectacular.