Prague and Budapest Operas and Ballet

Old Oct 21st, 2011, 01:18 PM
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Prague and Budapest Operas and Ballet

Does anyone have any general bits of advice for someone who has never been to an opera or ballet but would like to enjoy a few.

I have a choice between the opera Cinderella (Rossi, La Cenerentola) and Verdi's Rigoletto in Budapest. Any thoughts for a novice? Rigoletto is playing for more dates but I guess Cinderella would be easier to follow. The ballet Anna Karenina is also showing while I'm in Budapest.

I am also going to try for the ballet Cinderella at Prague State Opera, maybe a parterre seat (about 31 USD) instead of a balcony seat if the ballets have a good reputation in Prague as this level of seating is more affordable than the operas. I don't think the cast would make a difference to me since I am a novice. The operas that are showing in Prague are Carmen and Phantom of the Opera.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 02:26 PM
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I'd go for Rigoletto in Budapest. Try and get a bit acquainted with the story, as I'm not certain that they have English subtitles (it's been awhile). The music is gorgeous. The story is in the "Synopsis" section of this Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rigoletto

Here's Pavarotti singing one of the more famous arias from Rigoletto. You can tell it's about the womanizer, the Duke of Mantua (sung by Pavarotti), in pursuit of another conquest while the hapless husband watches and fumes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWwg_VtrTdg

Here's Pavarotti with the famous "La Donna E Mobile (Woman is fickle)":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCFEk6Y8TmM


La Cenerentolla is farcical, but you may miss the humor if there are no English subtitles. This is an opera that you definitely want to be able to follow along languagewise.


Carmen in Prague.


The opera houses in both Budapest and Prague are quite lovely, the dress a bit more formal (no jeans), but the music may often be not quite the standard in Vienna.

BTW, which opera house in Prague?
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 04:05 PM
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I was in Budapest with my wife several years ago. I decided to go to the opera.

As a complete novice we sat up in the balcony.

I was amused to see that there were sub-titles (actually super-titles as they were near the top of the curtain). However, they were in Hungarian.

It was fun anyway.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 05:17 PM
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Have never seen ballet Cinderella. Saw Anna Karenina - the Kirov - and even then it was kind of slow. And i LIKE ballet.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 07:01 PM
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Budapest's enormous opera house is certainly a grand introduction to "grand opera" although it is amusing to think a tourist would expect English surtitles in a non-English-speaking country. Read the plot before you go. My choice would be a seat on the main floor, having learned the hard way in old European theatres how your sightlines can be impaired in any of the balconies. It takes lots of pillars and posts to hold up these gorgeous hulks. The raised seats along the periphery of the main floor add the extra problem of the chairs being movable so that the customers beside you in the boxes can squeeze right up to the front rail and lean forward, blocking your view.
The price is right; the atmosphere is unbeatable; the intermissions are long. In some of the heaviest operas, the Budapest orchestra gets a break to consume supper, leaving you lots of time to take in the splendours of the lobbies.
Before you go, an attractive introduction to opera is offered by the high-definition broadcasts of New York's Metropolitan Opera, now seen in movie theatres in many countries. No blocked sightlines there; the cameras put you so close that you can see the diva shedding real tears when she stops the show with her aria.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 07:31 PM
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The Opera House in Prague is the State Opera (not Estates Theater or National Theater). Maybe I'll skip the opera in Prague and look into Rigoletto in Budapest -- better prices for a novice. Will look into parterre - thanks for the extra info. on Budapest, Southam.

Anyone know much about seeing the ballet Cinderella at State Opera in Prague? It is showing the day after I land in Prague from the US, so maybe not the wisest event to plan when I'm getting over jet lag, but if it's worth it I would look into attending.

nytraveler - thanks, I'll skip Anna Karenina.

easytraveler - Thanks for the youtube links and advice about the Cinderella Opera in Budapest -- will definitely pass on that one.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 11:44 PM
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A better classical music night in Prague would be a concert up in Prague Castle.

http://www.prague.net/st-george-basilica

Aside from St George Basilica, there are also concerts held in other venues inside Prague Castle, such as the lovely Spanish Room.

I'm sorry I can't help you too much with links to websites, as my friends in Europe are usually the ones who get the concert tickets in Prague for us.

Try and avoid the ticket agents and go direct to venue website to order tickets.

There's also some kind of central government ticket office. Maybe another Fodorite has more specific information.
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Old Oct 21st, 2011, 11:51 PM
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I was underwhelmed with the ballet in Prague (Swan Lake) - not the best company IMO. Carmen would be nice to see there, though. In general, the State Opera in Prague offers less quality than the other opera houses. (Finances cut by the government and will be taken over by the National Theatre soon, sadly.)

In Budapest check if there are locals singing or if they have international guests. I saw Turandot there and the tenor was a total failure.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 06:06 AM
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I saw Anna Karenina in Budapest a few years ago and loved it. The opera house is, of course, magnificent.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 07:35 AM
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Definitely Rigoletto. You'll recognize several of the arias. Beware that there is no English surtitles/supertitles at Budapest opera house. I recommend you take out a DVD of Rigoletto from your local library and watch it, so you know the story in advance.

The very first time I saw Rigoletto, I cried in the end.

P.S. Actually, you can watch the recent Rigoletto from Mantua (with Placid Domingo, Ruggero Raimondi, and Vittorio Grigolo) for FREE online on PBS website. It is shot on location:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episod...-program/1156/
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 11:59 AM
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nomadder,

You didn't mention your dates, but if AT ALL POSSIBLE, go see Rigoletto in Budapest on Nov 4 or Nov 6. I checked the cast list, and in those first 2 performances, LEO NUCCI is singing the role of father Germont. It's like hitting the jackpot to see Leo Nucci!

When you buy your tickets (via www.jegymester.hu ), splurge a little and avoid any seats in the Balcony. The seats in the Balcony are actually okay for watching the opera (it's a small theatre), but the only way to get up to the Balcony is via a side entrance (for the lower-class peasants when this was built). You CANNOT access the balcony via the main entry portal or grand staircase, so you won't be able to see the interior of the auditorium except from the balcony.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2011, 01:20 PM
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Wow! Leo Nucci! What a treat, if you can make either of those dates!

The ever-enduring Leo Nucci sounds like a wonderful warm person as well:

http://www.musicalcriticism.com/inte...cci-0109.shtml

Here's Leo Nucci with the young Georgian soprano, Nino Machaidze, the Angelina Jolie look-alike, in the really famous duet, "Si, Vendetta":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF89o...eature=related
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 03:15 AM
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Unfortunately, I'll be there from November 10th through Nov. 14th. I watched the youtube link, and even I can tell that he's amazing -- I'm sorry to have to miss his performance. I went to the Opera House website and tried to look into tickets for November 13th and it transfers me to Jegymester and it just says "suspended" -- does that mean sold out?
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 05:43 AM
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Ticket ordering works for me.

I'd recommend a seat in a box. That's right below the balconies and you'll have access to the great staircase. Advantage is that you can leave your coat in the box, no need to fight with the crowds in the cloakroom.

I.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 05:48 AM
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Sorry - now the site is working -- was just a problem with the website. For seating info. below is the seating chart with the available seats in green.

http://www.jegymester.hu/eng/Event/10914/Rigoletto#
I was thinking the seat in row 20. Good enough for a novice?

Thanks
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 07:31 AM
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I would pick Upper Circle level Boxes Right 6th Number/1/3 for the same price.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 08:05 AM
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If you go to the Budapest Opera House (we saw Tosca - if you familiarize yourself with the plot of almost any opera, you'll be able to follow it.), don't worry about "formal" clothes. We almost didn't try to go because of that. When we went to ask about tickets, we were told that regular clothes were fine (not flipflops or really casual clothes.) My husband and I both wore dark jeans (They looked like "regular pants")and regular tops that we would wear to work with everyday shoes but I saw other tourists with sport shoes. The Hungarians go all out with evening wear but there are concessions for tourists. We sat in the orchestra and enjoyed every minute. During the intermission, you can order champagne or coffee for us mortals.
The hall is overheated so if you wear a sweater, make sure that you are dressed to take it off.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 08:27 AM
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If you can get tickets for Carmen in Prague, do try to fit that in too - it's quite different to Rigoletto, and the theatre is, IMHO, lovelier than the one in Budapest. we saw Madame butterfly there, a few years ago it has to be said, and it was great.

do remember [if you ever knew - we didn't] that the seats in these opera houses are marked right and left - so if you are in the stalls, row J, seat 23, for example, you need to look to see which side it is. there is ever so much fun to be had from watching people having to skip to the other side when other people turn up to sit in "their" seats.

the tip about what to wear is a good one - all of the public buildings in cities like Prague and budapest seem to be very well heated, so what you need is a good thick top coat, and ordinary clothes to wear underneath. then all you do is put you coat in the garderobe [or hang it up at the endurance to your box] and you should be perfectly comfortable.

BTW, when we went, the restaurant attached to the opera in Prague was very good and very modern in cooking style - a welcome antidote to the dumplings and other stodge you may find yourselves eating elsewhere.

another place you may find music to enjoy is at the municipal building in the centre of Prague - there is a concert hall upstairs and a good, if somewhat traditional restaurant in the basement, with fabulous ceramics on the wall.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 09:11 AM
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Another place to check in Budapest is the Lizst Academy - gorgeous music hall which was recently closed for renovation. I assume it should be open by now due to the 200th anniv of Lizst's birthday. There may be some great concerts there. http://www.lfze.hu/
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Old Oct 23rd, 2011, 11:16 AM
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yk - you remind me of our visit to the Lizst museum in Budapest. [not part of the music hall so far as I know].

they have a couple of Liszt's pianos, but even better, they have Beethoven's piano too, given to Liszt when Beethoven died. it is so tiny compared to the other ones there. the museum was very interesting.
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