Although this is not theatrical spectacle to immerse yourself in, its strength lies in its deeply religious meaning and precise musical score.

“St John Passion” premièred over the Easter weekend last year in the Opera House and this version is staged by Károly Eperjes.

Essentially, the oratorio narrates the suffering and eventual crucifixion of Christ. It consists of recitatives and choruses taken from the Gospel of John with the arias and ariosos representing dramatic action together with chorales of hymn tunes.

It is expressive, extravagantly rich in meaning and has a sense of timelessness.

Kálmán Strausz leads an orchestra of surgical preciseness through Bach’s Baroque musical score. Despite the darkness and the suffering inherent in “St John Passion”, there should be an overall feeling of rebirth and renewal, a shining light of brilliance in the blackness symbolising the Resurrection.

As opposed to “St Matthew Passion”, “St John Passion” is more of an opera, and the sadness inherent in the story should give way to the positive by the end of the oratorio.

“Parsifal” is also, in a very different way, a deeply religious experience and it is fitting it returns over the Easter weekend. It is epic; five hours-plus, and richly layered with Wagner’s classical leitmotifs, hidden meanings and a touch of the divine.
Watching it should bring a sense of the ethereal, and despite the long running time and obscure storyline it runs so fluidly and perfectly you feel as though you have witnessed something deeply magical.

Parsifal
Parsifal

And yet to try to decipher Wagner’s symbolism and meaning in the characters, the lyrics, the wonderful musical score is to miss the essence of the opera. Even after three viewings, to pin down the exact essence of Wagner’s mystical piece is impossible as well as highly subjective.

Directed by András Mikó, it has a cast of the highest calibre led by István Kovácsházi in the title role. Juraj Valcuha conducts through the rising and falling epic score, which is evenly paced and wonderfully entrancing. It produces an almost out-of-body experience.

Wagner had a mystical vision when composing “Parsifal”, using art to bring religion into a glowing reality. It is profound, slow and bewildering. but at the same time so heavenly.

There is a dichotomy that exists in “Parsifal” between white and black magic, dark and light. It is perfectly interspersed on the Easter weekend with Bach’s “St John Passion”. Forget the cathedral and go to the Opera House instead; it is truly an awe-inspiring experience.

“St John Passion”

Thursday March 24
and Saturday March 26
“Parsifal”

Friday March 25
and Monday March 28

Hungarian State Opera
Opera House, Andrássy út 22, District VI

Tickets and information:
www.jegymester.hu/eng

Parsifal
Parsifal
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