"Shattered, abandoned, dead..." is the title of the new permanent exhibition of the Hungarian State Opera opened in the basement of the building. It commemorates 83 artists and employees who were dismissed and deported due to their descent during the Holocaust. The exhibition is open to visitors at 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from 14 January 2023.
The gap-filling exhibition is based on an idea of director Sylvie Gábor whose basic research for her doctoral dissertation investigated the lives of members dismissed as a result of the introduction of the Second Anti-Jewish Law in July 1939 and the German occupation of Hungary in April 1944. The research was made extremely difficult by the lack of documentation of the events: the survivors are no longer alive, and in the decades following World War II, the traumas were largely hushed up and unspoken, and records and recollections have only sporadically been found from this period. Nevertheless, the efforts of curator Márton Karczag, head of the OPERA Archives is an unparalleled achievement, because the exhibition is the first in Hungarian theatre history to examine the events of the Holocaust in the life of a company. The exploratory work is not considered finished, the exhibition was born with the clear intention of continuing the work that had already begun.
Taking into account their work at the Opera House, the exhibition examines the careers of 83 former colleagues – 14 soloists, 5 conductors and répétiteurs, 27 chorus members, 18 musicians, 7 ballet dancers, 4 administrative employees, and 8 technical workers – divided into three groups: more than half of them, 45 people were re-employed by the Opera House after World war II, 10 did not survive the ordeals, while 18 did not return to the company. Among them are some who continued their careers abroad, some whose careers were interrupted, and there are 8 former employees about whom no information is available 1945.
The presentation of the material is made special by the location: it takes place in a section of the basement-labyrinth of the Opera House, where the former employees hid and lived during the siege of Budapest. After the muses fell silent for months following a performance of Die Entführung aus dem Serail on 23 December 1944, the basement of the Opera House n Pest took on a „historical significance” as a significant proportion of the company (often along with members of their families) sought refuge there from the increasing bombings.
The "Shattered, abandoned, dead..." exhibition is open to visitors during guided tours at 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from 14 January 2023, private guided tours for groups are available on request. Please contact the OperaTour team via firstname.lastname@example.org.