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In view of the great interest, on 21 December 2022, starting at 11:00 a.m., the Hungarian National Ballet has scheduled an additional performance of The Nutcracker, making it the longest series of  Tchaikovsky's fairy-tale ballet, with 35 performances running between the first Sunday of Advent, 27 November 2022 and 15 January 2023, at the Hungarian State Opera. While OPERA's traditional holiday productions attract full houses again this year, the Opera House also intends to pay attention to the needy with several charity events in cooperation with its partners.

Organized by the István Regőczi Foundation, which supports the orphans of the Covid-19 epidemic, almost 200 children will attend The Nutcracker rehearsal on 27 November, while on 18 December, the International Children's Safety Service will bring almost a thousand disadvantaged children from all over the country and from beyond borders. This performance is one of the dearest Christmas gifts of the Safety Service and MKB Bank, which sponsors the event, as Tchaikovsky's Christmas ballet is an essential part of the holiday preparations. With the performance, each year the two organizations try to make Christmas more beautiful, richer, and a real experience for children. The new performance announced for the morning of 21 December also serves charitable purposes in part, as the boxes can be occupied by children living in child protection institutions, raised by foster parents and their companions, organized by the State Secretariat for Care Policy of the Interior Ministry.

On 7, 8, and 9 December, Bohemian Little Christmas will move into the attic of the protagonists of La bohème again this year, in which the OPERA Children's Chorus, soloists András Kőrősi, Orsolya Hajnalka Rőser, Zsófia Nagy and Máté Fülep, ballet dancers Lili Felméry and Taran Dumitru, and orchestra members Eszter Stankowszky (concertmaster), Alajos H. Zováthi (double bass), Dóra Gjorgjevic (flute), Péter Csongár (clarinet), Ferenc Ács (trumpet) give a Christmas performance woven from opera and ballet tales for disadvantaged children under the baton of László Bartal, directed by András Aczél. In addition, OPERA also joins MTVA's charity campaign It's good to be good, which this year supports the Hungarian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted, and true to the traditions of the past years, not only does it offer a nutcracker doll featured in last season's performances as a donation, but participates in its program stream of the public media.

After 2016, The Nutcracker choreography by Wayne Eagling and Tamás Solymosi returns to the stage of the Opera House in its original form. The production, which was staged in 2015 with costumes by Nóra Rományi, was shown at the Erkel Theater since 2017 due to the renovation of the Opera House on Andrássy út with minor compromises. Now, the complete performance can be seen again in its original splendor on a bigger stage, with more dancers, with Beáta Vavrinecz's sets, and with the restoration of the omitted smaller scenes. This year, Hungary's only classical ballet company is the only one to present Tchaikovsky's work live in its entirety, the unprecedented success of which is demonstrated by the fact that almost all tickets for the performances are sold out before the start of the series, and there are only a limited number of seats available for the January dates. Principal Maria Beck will make her debut in the company and as Princess Marie in the performance on 10 December. Until recently, the American-Russian ballet artist held the same position in the ensemble of the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre. Maria Yakovleva, the former principal soloist of the ballet company of the Vienna State Opera, who signed a contract with the Hungarian National Ballet this autumn, will also dance the female lead role at the Opera House for the first time. In addition to the ballet masters, leading soloists such as Cristina Balaban, Gergely Leblanc and Aliya Tanykpayeva assisted in coaching the company. This year, the students of the Hungarian National Ballet Institute will be participating in the children's roles of the performance, including Éva Julianna Pollák, who won first place in the pre-competitive category at the Paris semi-finals of the Youth America Grand Prix this fall, and Franciska Yuki Bonecz, who won first place at the Dutch Junior Ballet Competition, will be seen in the role of Marie. In view of the great interest, the OPERA has announced another performance at 11:00 a.m. on 21 December 2022, which will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on 27 November.

Puccini's opera La bohème is also an essential part of the Christmas period. The performance, which deals with the daily lives of Parisian bohemians full of love and deprivation, has been seen for 85 years now, staged by the legendary creators of the Golden Age of the Opera House. Kálmán Nádasdy's direction with sets by Gusztáv Oláh and costumes by Márk Tivadar will be shown at eight sold-out performances between 3 and 30 December this year. The main roles are performed by László Boldizsár and Gergely Boncsér (Rodolfo), Polina Pasztircsák and Gabriella Létay Kiss (Mimì), Csaba Sándor and Azat Malik (Schaunard), Csaba Szegedi and Csaba Sándor (Marcello), Gábor Bretz and Marcell Bakonyi (Colline), and Orsolya Sáfár (Musetta) sings, the OPERA Orchestra, Chorus (conductor: Gábor Csiki) and Children's Chorus (conductor: Nikolett Hajzer) are conducted by Gergely Kesselyák, the OPERA's first conductor.

Since 2019, the Mozart version of Händel's oratorio Messiah has become a permanent part of the Advent season. On 17 and 18 December, the OPERA will perform the choral work, which deals with the coming of the savior, the story of his suffering and resurrection, and is well-known through the Hallelujah movement, in a concert-like format, in Hungarian. The soloist roles are sung by Rita Rácz, Gabriella Balga, István Horváth and Marcell Bakonyi, the OPERA Orchestra and Choir are conducted by Gergely Kesselyák.

A two-and-a-half-meter nutcracker doll and a three-and-a-half-meter tall Christmas tree also contribute to creating a festive atmosphere in the Opera House building, with more than 200 decorations provided by OPERA's strategic partner, Herendi Porcelain.

As part of the MVM OperAdventure, the OPERA makes the general rehearsals of both The Nutcracker and La bohème available to secondary-school students, in line with the institution's commitment to promote and popularise the operatic genres among the next generation, the opera-goers of the future.

Photo by Attila Nagy