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Gala and the Final of the Opera Composition CompetitionGala and the Final of the Opera Composition CompetitionThe program of the Bartók+ Opera Festival 2014 in Miskolc was finished with Erika Miklósa’s concert and the announcement of the results of the Opera Composition Competition.

In the first part of the Gala we could listen to an about 20-minute excerpt from each of the three finalist works of the Opera Composition Competition. The three operas were Eugenia Manolides’ La pisanella, Andrzej Karalow’s Kepler and Apor Szüts’ The chirurgeonin Halle. These were already performed in full version earlier, on the 17th of June, but only with a piano accompaniment (see our report about it in the Festival Journal, in an article of the 5th day).

However, now the excerpts were performed with an orchestra (according to the Competition Call composers could only apply with an orchestrated work).

The members of the jury in the finals were Gergely Kesselyák, conductor, director of the Opera Festival, Girolamo Deraco, composer, Karel Drgac, stage-director, Balázs Kocsár, conductor and Tamás Beischer-Matyó, composer.

The host of the first part of the evening was our world-famous soprano, Erika Miklósa, who announced the performances and made a short presentation about the works and their authors.

Gala and the Final of the Opera Composition CompetitionGala and the Final of the Opera Composition CompetitionThe excerpts performed now with an orchestra did not really change my mind: I still think that these new works have important values, but none of them is an outstanding opera.

Not only the five members of the jury could vote, but the audience, too, who was the ’sixth member’ (that is, the decision of the audience was equal to one vote of a jury member). After that the jury had a discussion, they cast their votes, and the votes of the audience were counted, as well. 

Meanwhile, in the second part of the Gala the audience had a great time again. Since Erika Miklósa did not only come here to announce, but also to sing, of course. In the second part she and her tenor partner, Tamás Cselóczki were singing popular opera arias and duets, with great success.

After the little bit hackneyed, but inevitable and ever popular Traviata-duet (’Libiamo…’) Gergely Kesselyák walked on the stage to announce the results of the Opera Composition Competition.

It turned out, that this year – just like last year – there is no ’absolute winner’. The jury found that none of the works met their expectations in every respect. Referring to the Competition Call, they were expecting ’popular operas’, that is, works, which are easily acceptable for wider audiences, but are composed with the highest aesthetic aspirations of operas.    

In the opinion of the jury, the piece we could listen to first, Apor Szüts’ The Chirurgeon in Halle is a composition of a very talented young man, but he is at the beginning of his career and does not have the necessary composing routine yet to write an opera (’writing an opera is very difficult’ – said Gergely Kesselyák on the stage). However, the members of the jury have high hopes in the later works of the young man, so he was awarded by the director of the festival the ’Talent Prize’ (which was originally not in the Competition Call). 

The second work, Eugenia Manolides’ La pisanella got the most votes from the audience. With good reason, because it is a really melodic peace, but the jury expected a more complicated and a more ambitious score from the composer, as it was explained by Gergely Kesselyák. However, Eugenia Manolides also received a prize named the ’Popularity Prize’, which was also not in the Competition Call.

Gala and the Final of the Opera Composition CompetitionGala and the Final of the Opera Composition CompetitionAfter that it was not a surprise at all, that the third work, Andrzej Karalow’s Kepler was also awarded: the young Polish man got the ’Professional Prize’. As Gergely Kesselyák explained, the score of this work is of great value, and indicates a very talented, well-prepared composer, but the melodies and the rhythms characterizing the work, the music itself cannot be easily accepted by a wider audience, thus it is not an opera that could become popular.   

So, according to the decision none of these operas will be performed next year at the Festival (which goes hand in hand with the First Prize). The gratuity was split into four parts; one of them will be secluded for the organization of next year’s competition, and the rest is divided evenly among the three composers.

The question now arises that if this was the decision of the jury, why did they let these works into the final? I think, one of the reasons is, that even a professional musician cannot get the full picture about a piece unless she or he can see it performed on the stage and can listen to it (or at least to certain parts of it) with an orchestra. The other reason is ’the sixth member of the jury’, the audience, who can only meet these works in the finals.

This competition is a superb initiative, which should be continued. The Call of the Competition should be sent all over the world, and hopefully, next year we will see even better works – maybe by those composers, who competed this year.  

Balázs Csák




22, June, 2014, Miskolc, Grand Theatre

Gala with Erika Miklósa – Opera Composition Competition, final


Performed by:

Erika Miklósa, Tamás Cselóczki and the Symphony Orchestra of Miskolc

Conductor: Ádám Cser



Tags: fesztiválok listája: 2014
műfaj: opera
kategóriák: fesztiváli főprogramok
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