One of the country’s biggest annual cultural events, Budapest Spring Festival, kicks off this Friday for 11 days of theatre, music and dance programmes. Despite being much scaled down from previous years, when it sometimes ran for up to three weeks, this 32nd edition of the festival runs until 26 March, taking place in 15 locations and featuring 48 performances across all genres.
John Malkovich at the Vígszínház
Highlights include a number of guest appearances by a variety of international stars. American actor John Malkovich takes to the stage of the Vígszínház on Sunday 25 March with two successive afternoon performances of The Infernal Comedy – Confessions of a Serial Killer. The performance, interspersed with two sopranos singing live arias by Vivaldi, Haydn and Mozart, sees Malkovich take on the role of convicted murderer Jack Unterweger in a psychological investigation of crime’s roots.
On the dance front, the Moiseyev Dance Company of Russia (below) with its signature blend of folk dance and classical ballet performs a jubilee production at Papp László Budapest Sportaréna on Saturday 17 March to celebrate the 75 years since its foundation.
American jazz players Gary Burton (vibraphone, percussion) and Chick Corea (piano) close a day of drum-themed performances at the Palace of Arts on Sunday 18 March, which also sees the Ttukunak Duo performing Basque folk music
Classical performances at the Palace of Arts feature Maxim Vengerov and the Liszt Chamber Orchestra playing Mozart and Bach on Saturday 17 March, the Russian National Orchestra (below) bringing a Slav dimension with Rachmaninoff and Scriabin on Thursday 22 March, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit performing Beethoven and Dvorak on Monday 26 March.
Boys’ choirs are represented too, with the world-renowned Wiener Sängerknaben in their trademark sailor suits singing from a repertoire including Mozart, Schubert, Strauss and arranged folk songs from the Danube region at the Italian Cultural Institute.
Hungarian composers, old and new
Famous Hungarian composers get pride of place with an opening concert at the Palace of Arts this Friday 16 March dedicated to Béla Bartók, Zoltan Kodály and László Lajtha. The Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra performs their respective Viola Concerto, “Peacock” Variations on a Hungarian Folksong and Hortobágy Suite, the latter performed alongside a screening of the 1936 film Hortobágy for which the suite was composed.
New Hungarian music also features with a world premiere of László Dubrovay’s symphonic poem Fairy Ilona and Prince Argyélus and János Vajda’s Magnificat, performed by Debrecen’s Kodály Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir at the Inner City Parish Church of St Michael on Monday 19 March.
Because culture does not have to remain enclosed within walls, the festival includes a series of guided tours on 24 and 25 March. The three-hour tours start from District V’s Vörösmarty tér and aim to explore the Art Nouveau style around District V and the City Park, with intervals of chamber music.
Tickets cost from HUF 600 to HUF 22,000. The full programme of performances and exhibitions is at www.btf.hu (in English).