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The Csárdás Princess in London

Monday 28 November 2016, 7pm
St Paul's Church Covent Garden
Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ED 


The Csárdás Princess continues its world tour

Operetta in the shadows of World War I

Mónika Fischl – Sylvia
Attila Dolhai – Edwin
Szilvi Szendy – Stasi
Miklós Máté Kerényi – Boni

Accompanied by the Quintet of the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre


1. Aria of Sylvia "Heia, heia, in the lonely mountains is my home"
2. Song of Boni "The ladies, the ladies, the ladies up on stage"
3. Duet of Sylvia and Edwin "Loneliness is all around us"
4. Aria of Boni "Girls are the thing"
5. Trio of Sylvia, Edwin and Boni "O, grasp with open arms"
6. Walz "The music is calling in accents sweet"
7. Aria of Edwin "Every night I dream of you"
8. Duet of Stasi and Edwin "Let's do what the swallows do"
9. Duet of Sylvia and Edwin "Where are they now"
10. Quartet "Hajmasi Peter, Hajmasi Paul"
11. Quartet "Hurrah, hurrah, this life is for living"
12. Duet of Stasi and Boni "That fellow Cupid"
13. Duet of Sylvia and Edwin "Let me dance and let me sing"
14. "Strike up Zigeuner, drive our sorrows away"

Csardaskiralyno"It is impossible to compose music when you hear the racket of canons and machine guns from the frontline where people are killing each other," wrote Emmerich (Imre) Kálmán in 1914. Yet he did finish composing The Csárdás Princess and it has become one of the most successful and best known operettas ever. 

Emmerich (Imre) Kálmán composed the first act in Marienbad in May 1914 but he was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. He completed his work a year later. In August 1915 the troops of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy drove back the opposing Russian army several hundred miles which gave a great opportunity to present the operetta for the first time on 17 November 1915 in Vienna to celebrate this war victory. The show was immediately a huge success, there were more than 500 performances in Vienna alone. Despite World War I, The Csárdás Princess was staged in Sweden, Finland, Poland, Russia, Italy and in Budapest in November 1916 and finally, after a year later it even made it to Broadway in New York. The British writer P.G. Wodehouse, who adapted the play for the English stage, said, "Not only does The Csárdás Princess excel this talented Hungarian's compositions, but it is downright the greatest music of all time."

According to operetta statisticians there isn't a single minute without one of Kálmán's melodies being played in a theatre, a concert hall, in a film, on TV or on radio somewhere in the world; and in most cases it is a piece from The Csárdás Princess, making Kálmán deservedly the number one operetta composer of his time.

The story

It's a story of seemingly hopeless love. Prince Edwin is madly in love with Sylvia, the star of the Orpheum Theatre in Budapest, but his aristocratic family is against this below the ranks relationship. Edwin's parents will do whatever it takes to lure their son back to Vienna in order to marry him with a suitable bride, Countess Stasy, so they arrange a contract for Sylvia Vereczky in a music hall in New York to keep her away from him. Meanwhile the lovers are also helped by several people: the nice but dim Count Boni, the headwaiter of the Orpheum Miksa and his twin brother Alfonz, the butler of the House of Lippert-Weilersheim and Uncle Feri, a friend of Count Boni from the Orpheum. It is mainly Uncle Feri, who in order to help the couple, is calling the shots behind the scene, going as far as uncovering his former lover, Edwin's mother.

Mónika Fischl                                 Attila Dolhai                                Szilvi Szendy                                  Miklós Máté Kerényi

The genre

What is an operetta, particularly a Hungarian operetta?
It is a musical genre written with the demands of an opera but mixed with smooth and catching melodies and lots of humour. The main theme usually is love, almost always crazy love. The story is told in prose combined with the usual musical acts (overture, interlude, arias, duets, trios or quartets) and dance scenes. The Hungarian operetta is the only musical genre that received a particular mention in the official list of Hungaricums representing the best of Hungarian cultural heritage.

Operetta has achieved its fame and prestige thanks to Hungarians. Out of the four Hungarian composers who have been well known and loved around the world from the 20th century: Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály, Ferenc Lehár and Emmerich (Imre) Kálmán, the latter two devoted their life to operettas. It was Kálmán and Lehár who made this musical genre a part of universal musical culture. The Csárdás Princess and The Merry Widow are as famous as Bartók's Prince Bluebeard's Castle. All opera singers from Placido Domingo to Anna Netrebko have in their repertoire arias or duets from these two operettas, sometimes even singing the complete plays. Among the 140 complete works in Domingo's repertoire, one is The Merry Widow. Luciano Pavarotti did not sing Mozart but performed "You are my heart's delight" from Lehár's 'The Land of Smiles' whenever he could. These artists have always been proud of having an operetta, a Hungarian operetta in their program.

"The Csárdás Princess" continues its world tour

To celebrate the centenary of The Csárdás Princess's premiere in Hungary, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Balassi Institute commissioned the Budapest Operetta Theatre to produce a show introducing the highlights of the operetta by star soloists, which have already been performed to a great success in Vienna, Brussels, Moscow and Warsaw and will be staged in 20 more European and Asian cities in the future.

The Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre

Director General: György Lőrinczy

The Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre is one of the oldest and most successful theatres in Hungary. It operates as a musical theatre with two divisions: showing Hungarian operettas and their modern, contemporary successors; and musicals based on literary or historical topics aimed at younger generations. More than five hundred shows are performed every year with audiences totalling 400 000 people, making the theatre one of the most popular in Hungary. Operettas of great composers such as Emmerich (Imre) Kálmán, Ferenc Lehár, Pál Ábrahám, Jenő Huszka, Albert Szirmai are performed here. The Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre has been awarded the 'Superbrands' title for its excellent achievements. In 2013 the Hungarian operetta achieved the status of 'Hungaricum', being the only musical genre that is included in the official list of values representing the best of Hungarian cultural heritage.

With the support of the First World War Centenary Memorial Committee

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