Art World Comes Together to Celebrate 40 Years of the Spring Festival


Müpa/Csibi Szilvia

Müpa Budapest CEO Csaba Káel has been playing an important role in building the worldwide reputation of Budapest as one of Europe’s vibrant cultural destinations. Since September he is also the Government Commissioner for developing the Hungarian national motion picture industry, as well as the chairman of the executive board of Budapest Spring Festival, as Müpa Budapest is not just a key location, but the main organizer of the prestigious event series, that has just announced its anniversary program.

Csaba Káel, photo by Müpa/Csibi Szilvia

BBJ: From the film industry to the performing arts scene: could we say that cultural experiences have a strong impact on the image and the brand of a city?

Csaba Káel: I firmly believe that unforgettable cultural experiences are shaping the way we think about a certain city or country. Creating a complex and engaging Budapest experience for visitors and locals through the arts and culture is an important mission for me. Budapest Spring Festival, and of course Müpa Budapest as well, provides visitors with an extraordinary program selection year by year. We are deeply committed to quality and diversity, while we are always searching for new, fresh approaches and innovative solutions. In programming, in communication, and strategy as well.

BBJ: The Budapest Spring Festival will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. How do you plan to mark such a landmark occasion?

CK: I am extremely proud to say that Budapest Spring Festival has become one of Central Europe’s most important celebrations of the arts during the past four decades and attracts massive international attention, with satisfied visitors returning from all over the world. We are celebrating the 40th festival with a selection of exciting new productions, Hungarian masterpieces and extraordinary international projects. Some of the invited artists – Sergei Nakariakov, Ballet Company of Győr or Erika Miklósa – have a nice history and strong bond to the festival, and we are excited to welcome them back on stage for this anniversary.

BBJ: What highlights are you most looking forward too?

CK: It really is not easy to choose: Diversity of art forms and genres is a core value of the festival, and the program is going to be special and colorful in 2020. György Kurtág is one of our Hungarian musical masterminds and a contemporary legend. According to one critic, his opera – the only opera he has written, “Fin de partie” is a loving farewell to 20th-century modernism. The opera was premiered in Milan, Teatro alla Scala in November 2018, directed by Pierre Audi, and the Hungarian premiere is going to be one of the musical highlights of the year. Opera lovers can get ready for the concerts of Kristine Opolais and Lawrence Brownlee. One week before Easter, Collegium Vocale Gent and Philippe Herreweghe bring Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” to the Liszt Academy. The opening event of the festival is going to be a real treat for ballet and music lovers: The Ballet Company of Győr, a legendary dance ensemble that is also looking back on a history of four decades, joins forces with Liszt Prize-winning violinist and composer Félix Lajkó to create a new performance of “Giselle” together. And that is just to mention a few highlights.

BBJ: When exactly will the festival run, and what will be the main venues?

CK: The Hungarian capital’s premier cultural institutions and theaters join forces for the 40th Budapest Spring Festival, and the 2020 program includes special venues as well. The Market Hall on Rákóczi tér will host an unconventional production, “The City of Marias”, which is based on Astor Piazzolla’s tango opera, “María de Buenos Aires”. But the capital’s most important concert halls and performing arts centers, from Liszt Academy to the Erkel Theater, from the Trafó House of Contemporary Arts to Pesti Vigadó, are cooperating to celebrate Budapest Spring Festival’s success story and these amazing four decades from April 3-19, 2020.

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