On 2 March 2019, the Opera organised its annual gala permeated this time with Puccini and Italy. The programme featured Sonya Yoncheva, who made her Budapest debut at the Erkel Theatre.
During her career, the internationally renowned Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva has enchanted audiences of La Scala, Wiener Staatsoper, Opéra Garnier and the Metropolitan Opera. In the versatile gala programme of the Erkel Theatre she performed arias from Le villi, La bohème, Manon Lescaut and Madama Butterfly. “It would be difficult to imagine a more suitable composer for an Italian gala,” stated the Yoncheva hailed as a successor of Maria Callas. Apart from pieces by the most popular Italian composer, excerpts by his greatest forerunners and contemporaries such as Leoncavallo, Rossini, Ponchielli, Mascagni, Giordano, Alfano, Wolf-Ferrari, Cilea and Verdi could also be heard.
The gala hosted by television presenter Noémi Morvai and general director Szilveszter Ókovács was directed by artistic director András Almási-Tóth and ballet director Tamás Solymosi, the ensembles of the Opera were conducted by general music director Balázs Kocsár.
Partners of Sonya Yoncheva on this evening were the most excellent Hungarian singers: Boldizsár László, Gergely Boncsér, Mihály Kálmándy, and Csaba Szegedi, Chamber Singer for the 2018/19 season. The gala also featured singers Gabriella Balga, Máté Fülep, Géza Gábor, Tivadar Kiss, Rita Rácz, Orsolya Hajnalka Rőser, Tibor Szappanos and Bernadett Wiedemann.
The operatic excerpts were complemented by dance pieces as well: the opening dance was choreographed by András Nádasdy to a Puccini adaptation by Péter Andorka. The choreography Valse de Fleurs (Tchaikovsky) was created by Kornélia Mráz, whereas La pentola magica to the music of Respighi was choreographed by Karina Sarkissova.
The gala featured the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra, Chrous and Children’s Chrous, artists of the Hungarian National Ballet: Lili Felméry, Sofia Ivanova-Skoblikova, Iurii Kekalo, Ievgen Lagunov, Gergely Leblanc, Tatiana Melnik, Dmitry Timofeev, and the students of the Hungarian National Ballet Institute.