The Hungarian State Opera House (Opera Nationala din Budapesta)

The Hungarian State Opera House is located in the central of the Hungarian capital city, Budapest, and it is hosted by an artistically crafted edifice, whose architecture is representative for the Neo-Renaissance style.

The architect behind the Opera House was Miklós Ybl, a representative figure in the Hungarian architecture of the 19th century, who had supervised the project until its completion in 1884 (after 9 years of work).

The institution had the pleasure of counting quite a handful of important figures of the cultural life of Hungary as part of the performing artists going on stage. Among these, Gustav Mahler and Otto Klemperer, the great composers and conductors of their generation (late 19th century – early 20th century) are worth mentioning.

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The passage of time had left its imprint on the edifice in as much that in the ‘70s, the Hungarian officials had decided to begin a restoration project which would retrieve the former glorious appearance of the Opera House. The renovation lasted for 4 years, from 1980 until 1984, and the refurbished Opera House was revealed to the public on  the 27th of September, 100 years after the original opera house was inaugurated.

The Hungarian State Opera House is not mentioned on this page solely because it is relevant in defining the state and its cultural life, but also because it is a beautiful edifice, which, while architecturally designed in the Neo-Renaissance style, it also consists of Baroque influences. The decoration involves magnificent sculptural work, as well as paintings, signed by major artists such as Bertalan Szekely or Karoly Lotz.

 

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The magnitude of the building as well as the number of people it can fit within its walls is limited so these are definitely not the characteristics which impress the public. However, there are other elements which contribute to the name the Opera House has gained: the architectural detailing and the quality of the sound. These precise characteristics are the ones to place the Hungarian State Opera House among the greatest opera houses in the world.

In front of the opera house stands erect the statue of Ferenc Erkel, the composer of the national anthem of Hungary together with the sculpture representing Frantz Ritter von Liszt, the great Hungarian composer, pianist and conductor.

 

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Besides the opera recitals held at this specific institution, the Hungarian State Opera House also shows ballet performances. This specific institution is not opened throughout the year. Thus, if you happen to arrive in Budapest sometime between July and August, you will not have the opportunity of visiting the opera house as it is closed in this interval.

Besides the main building, the Opera House consists of an ancillary edifice, the Erkel Theatre, which is actually much larger than the principal building.

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In terms of decorations, the opera house stands out due to the impressive mural work which covers the arched ceiling of the hallway. This segment of the edifice is covered with the Greek mythological figures – the Nine Muses (the goddesses of inspiration of literature, science and fine arts). But, besides the murals, the hallway is also noteworthy due to its structure which consists of a dome and marble pilasters, at which are added the luxurious chandeliers, thus the edifice conveying a feeling of lavishness. Just to make an idea of the richness of the details and of the luxuriousness of the ornaments, it should be mentioned that the main hall is adorned by means of a massive chandelier made out of bronze which reaches an impressive weight – 3050 kg.