No escape from Wagner’s magic – online festival launches in mid-June

There is an American couple who come to the Müpa every year in fabulous clothes. I imagine them putting on their lovely clothes and sitting in front of a screen on 18 June. There might be some groups watching the broadcasts together as well, in someone’s garden, surrounded by picnic baskets.

For Wagnerians of the world, Müpa made June a month of feast. From Budapest to New York, from Japan to Vienna, thousands of Wagner fans will sit in front of computers, TVs and telephones between 18 and 27 June. This year, due to the extraordinary situation, the “Bayreuth on the Banks of the Danube”, the 15th Budapest Wagner Days, will be a virtual festival.

Athmosphere of the Budapest Wagner Days is hard to explain if you have never been there. It is a feast and an irreplaceable social event, bringing nostalgic vibes to the vibrating month of June. It features the best Wagner singers of the world, one of the greatest Wagner conductor, Ádám Fischer, and the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. In the breaks, there are talks, gastronomy, and the inevitable fanfares in the entrance hall and on the terraces of the Müpa.

This year, it will be a different experience, but it’s not cancelled, it simply moves online. Which might have a democratising effect on the audience, as we do not have to fight for tickets of full house concerts, and we also do not have to spend on travelling. Not only international guests are usual at the festival but also international press is present in a huge amount. This might be the same in the virtual space – with even more audience members and press workers!

“Many believe that Wagner’s music is ‘bombastic’, with over-dimensioned emotions. If the show is too heroic and bombastic, then little human interactions get lost, but I am positive they are just as important in Wagner’s music and storytelling. In Müpa, we can hear and see a more intimate and heartfelt Wagner than anywhere else in the world”

– says Ádám Fischer about the uniqueness of the Budapest shows. Critiques say the same, they usually emphasise how the festival has contributed to a new style of playing opera. It comes from the acoustics and the attributes of Müpa, getting beyond the half-stages performances, each show reveals a new way of interpretation. And although this year we will hear the space acoustics through speakers, it is still worth joining the festival. Even if you believe now that Wagner’s operas are far away from your taste.

That was, actually, how I felt for many years. Then, in 2013, I had to be present at the rehearsal process and the premiere of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg due to work reasons, and there was no way back. If Wagner’s magic absorbs you completely, you cannot escape it anymore. For many years, I was at the shows as a professional, but nowadays I am only there in my spare time for my own personal reasons. Because there can be no more June without fanfares…

And what will we get at the Virtual Budapest Wagner Days? From 18 June for three days, the whole Ring tetralogy will be played, from the summer productions of 2015 and 2016. Wotan is played by Egils Silins, Johan Reuter, and Tomasz Konieczny, Brünnhilde by Evelyn Herlitzius, Elisabet Strid, and Irene Theorin. Then, on 24 June, director Michael Schultz’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is coming from year 2013, then Balázs Kovalik’s The Flying Dutchman from 2015, and finally Matthias Oldag’s Tannhäuser from 2018.

Article: Anikó Magócsi

Translation: Zsófia Hacsek