Once he acquired for himself Donizetti’s style, the pen of Ferenc Erkel gave birth to the unique sound of Hungarian opera, incomparable to anything else in its colour and style. The opera is full of charming melodies – even in comparison to my whole repertoire Mária’s arias are exceptional, I have also a wonderful love duet, big finale tableau and dramatic scenes. I speak for all of the interpreters who take part in this monumental production, we can feel the responsibility: because if we manage to convince the audience to love it and embrace it, perhaps it might lead to a live, staged performance of this beautiful piece
– says Klára about the first opera of Ferenc Erkel, Bátori Mária, in which she will interpret the title role during the Sunday’s premier at Erkel Theatre. The performance is going to be recorded and will later be issued on a CD album as well.
Tibor Tallián: Ferenc Erkel’s Bátori Mária – The classicism of a romantic opera (Hungarian language lecture):
Market in the Buda castle is strewn with flowers. The folk awaits the triumphant prince István who comes back from Dalmatian war. He’s welcomed by tragic news: his wife Judit died while he was away, and it’s a matter of state for him to get married again. He refuses, saying that he has been forced to do this already once and does not wish to marry for political reasons again. After a while though his true motivation comes to the surface: he has a noble – although not royal-born – lover, who lives in Leányvár and already gave birth to their two children. The king Kálmán curses his son, who then decides to marry his beloved Mária and threatens his father with assault.
He is followed by his soldiers to Leányvár to Mária, who, surrounded by her court ladies, awaits him full of concern. On hearing István’s decision she initally opposes, but finally accepts his proposal. Although even during their wedding she is tortured by dark premonitions and even her ladies in waiting cannot persuade her – she’s terrified by the vengeance of the king. Bad feelings intensify when her husband and her brother Miklós depart for a hunting.
In the meantime in Buda the King’s advisers plot to kill Mária – the bastards put into danger the heir of István and Judit. A spy brings the news about the wedding. The King, tearing the laws of life and death, goes to Leányvár with his court. Miklós sings a merry drinking song in the King’s hunting grounds, but István thoughts are haunted by Mária’s bloody silhouette and he decides to go back to Leányvár.
In the meantime the indecisive King meets Mária and her children – initially, he gives his pardon, impressed by her noble and pround personality. Afterwards though, he allows the plotters to pursue their original plan. The executioner breaks in Mária’s rooms and murders her in the presence of her children. She dies in the arms of returning István. Together with Miklós and their companions, the prince swears vengeance.
source: erkel.oszk.hu, written by Gupcsó Ágnes és Németh G. István, translated by Kaya Ariel Woytynowska