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Leánder and Linseed
Tallér Zsófia

 

  Andor Szilágyi used the phrase family fairy-tale play to characterise that work of his which I have chosen to use as the basis for my opera. And that was in part the precise reason for my decision: I was looking for a story that would speak to big and small alike, and one in which parents who had come to accompany their kids would also find delight. The world of Leánder and Linseed is quite unique: born from the idea of Elek Benedek's fairy tale, The Wondrous Tree, it includes numerous folk-story twists; there is also in it the vague resonance of characteristically Hungarian ballads, somewhat of Vörösmárty's Csongor and Tünde; all the while they wax ironic and self-ironic, avoiding any appearance of pathos. In terms of language, it also harkens back to a vanished time: Andor Szilágyi enlivened it with many of his own linguistic inventions and coinages, which thus allowed me to compose for an odd, antiquated and delectable text. 

  Our outstanding film director, György Fehér defined the eternal truth as follows: the majority of operas start with the premise that here is a man, here is a woman, and something isn't right... This is also true for Leánder and Linseed: throughout the play we root for the two lyrical heroes with their fine names to find each other, although - and here I may be giving it away - the plot is so steeped with love that at the end, almost no one finds themselves without a mate. The stage is populated with colourful figures: a magnetic goblin, a witty servant, a hysterical but beautiful princess and her harpy of a lady's maid, a dandy suitor, a king and queen, a syrupy fairy, a secretive lake monster, and a gossipy pair of bats... And as is usually the case, in the end, everyone gets their just reward or punishment, even if not in the expected manner. The lively story constantly offers something to watch or follow, which hopefully means that it won't be a boring experience even for children accustomed to the frenzied tempo of today's visual culture.  

  As it consists of two acts, the performance may demand too much patience from children under eight. As a practising mother, I would suggest it primarily for the 8-14 age group, as well as for young adults who have successfully passed beyond the realm of adolescence, and parents and grandparents. 

 

Zsófia Tallér, composer of the opera 

 

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