The first Debrecen Festival will start on August 10th and last until the 20th. We talked to festival director Dr. Dániel Vadász, also the founder of Coopera, about all its preparations and opportunities.
– When did you decide that the Debrecen Festival could take place?
– We have been consulting with the cooperating partners for several years, with the Csokonai Theater and the Kodály Philharmonic, as well as with the city management. We talked about a specific festival two years ago, then we developed its special character as well. The pandemic, like everything, had a say in it, so we couldn’t work on it last year. This year we had to decide quite late; that is, when it finally became possible to organize outdoor events without restrictions. We decided to take that chance! For this reason, our website couldn’t provide a detailed program in advance.
– How was the program put together?
– There are productions that already belong to us – that is, Coopera’s programs, such as Bánk bán or the Hungarikum [operetta] concert – that were created for touring, and there are artists who are connected to us from many directions: the Jávorkai brothers, Gergely Boncsér, and Virtuosos, whom we can easily persuade to perform at another festival.
– Is there anything that couldn’t happen this year?
– There was something that had to be canceled this year, but we will present these productions at the Debrecen Festival next year as well. This year, it is very important that the focus is on the performances on the square in front of the Great Church, and that we provide programs to be seen in other venues on the other days. I think there are some really good programs on the schedule, and we know the supply will continue to expand.
– The festival is visibly aimed at a wide range of audiences and tastes.
– The focus is on theatrical musical productions and we are looking for novelties that cross genre boundaries, such as the joint concert of the Hot Jazz Band and [soprano] Andrea Rost, or the evening of Gergely Boncsér singing Schubert songs, or opera excerpts. This way, we can build a wide audience that is exposed to a wide range of musical experiences.
– A new production is Bartók’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle, which will be performed for the first time in Debrecen after the presentation in Szentendre.
– The concept was developed from the combined thinking of director Zalán Zakariás and artistic director Bocskor Lóránt. Now that Bartók’s copyright has expired, many are rethinking this great work. Two excellent, world-famous singers – Levente Molnár and Viktória Mester – will perform the opera with a two-piano accompaniment, which promises to be very exciting, and in an intimate environment too. There are already several locations booked nationwide, and even across the border where the production will go on tour.
Our operating principle is to look for opportunities for cooperation: we work with many theaters and festivals. We will have more time to prepare next year, and we hope that we will finally have this terrible pandemic and the daily life full of restrictions behind us. Now we are happy with everything that provides any kind of opportunity to perform. Being able to organize a festival according to Coopera’s own concept allows us to expand our framework to a very large extent. We are working with the Kiev National Opera and the Cluj-Napoca Hungarian Opera, we want to present a serious vision and commitment in the region. I want to have cooperating partners from the Hungarian musical theater community to have original works created here, and hope also to have large-scale productions created with international cooperation. These are ideas that have been forming for years, which are under preparation… but now I cannot reveal any more secrets!
– How does Dániel Vadász relate to Debrecen?
– I am from Hajdú-Bihar county and I sang in the Csokonai Theater for six years as a chorus member. So, it is no coincidence that I have many contacts in Debrecen. I have been working with this region’s theater and the musicians for many years. I have a particularly good relationship with those who work at the institutional level and in the cultural life of the city, we have always looked for opportunities to connect. This festival will be perfect to draw attention to the national values here, to excellent companies such as the Kodály Philharmonic or the Csokonai Theater. For this, it requires not only good productions, but also a good team, and I have a strong hope that the Debrecen Festival will be very successful for this region for many years.
- Interview by Gábor Mesterházi
- Edited English translation by A.S.Ivanoff