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The Karamazovs tickets

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The Karamazovs

Venue: Erkel Theatre

1087 Budapest
II. János Pál pápa tér 30
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Event details
Composer: Mogyeszt Muszorgszkij, Richard Wagner

Ballet in two acts

Choreographer - Boris Eifman
Choreographer’s assistant - Olga Kalmikova
Set and costume designer - Vyacheslav Okunev
Lighting - Boris Eifman
Ballet masters - Andrea Merlo P., Krisztina Végh

Program details

The story of the ballet is fundamentally different from those the Budapest audience are used to. Instead of a plot in the traditional sense of the word - which is entirely based on Dostoevsky's novel - the emphasis here is rather on human characters and their relationships. 


Act one 

The three Karamazov brothers gather in their father's house to persuade him to distribute the wealth of the family amongst them. Fyodor Pavlovich, however, refuses to give them their shares, even taking pleasure in the tense situation this creates. He is a drunken and lustful old man whose approach to life is carefree, and whose only concerns are himself and carnal pleasures. 

His eldest son from his first marriage Dmitri most resembles his father, which is not accidental as only he grew up in this milieu. He fritters away his money extravagantly, and is also a man of unbridled impulses, although his character is more complex than that of his father. Recently he had bailed out of his debt a colonel, whose daughter Katerina fell in love with him and became his fiancée. She recognises the potential for good in him, and wants to save him from himself and a fate similar to Fyodor Pavlovich's. Dmitri rejects her, with good reason for refusing marriage: Grushenka, the cunning and unpredictable gypsy girl who lives in the Karamazov house, and coquettes with Fyodor Pavlovich and his future heir Dmitri at the same time. Grushenka watches with pleasure the rivalry of father and son as they battle for her. 

The two younger Karamazov brothers were born from their father's second marriage, and were raised away from home after their mother's death. They have returned to the family nest on Dmitri's invitation. Ivan, the elder brother was a child genius; he went to university, and writes articles for newspaper. He represents the desperately contemplative Russian intellectual, and falls in love with Katerina who has a noble pride. The girl rebuffs him as her vow links her to Dmitri. Ivan loathes his father and is in unceasing conflict with his elder brother. 

The youngest boy Aleksei is the "monk", a representative of religion, who tries to accept and love everybody as they are. In spite of the many differences which divide them, the three brothers are tied to each other by invisible threads: the "stinking, sinful" blood of their father, Fyodor Pavlovich runs in their veins. Aleksei tries in vain to make peace within the family. He can see the bitter rivalry between his father and brother Dmitri for the favours of Grushenka, his father's constant drunken orgies and the desperate emotional wavering of Katerina Ivanovna, who is unable to decide whether it is Dmitri or Ivan she loves. But not only is Aleksei incapable of helping his family, he also discovers within himself the despicable traits of "Karamazovshchina", the Karamazov blood. 

The whole family is drawn into the competition for Grushenka between Fyodor Pavlovich and Dmitri Karamazov. Fyodor Pavlovich is killed ... and Dmitri is accused of murdering his father. 


Act two 

Dmitri is in prison. He is innocent of the crime he is accused of, and the loss of Grushenka is a mortal blow for him; he feels alone in the world. 

Ivan and Aleksei argue endlessly about the meaning of existence and the human soul. Their argument materializes in the figures of the Great Inquisitor and Jesus Christ, who has returned to the sinful world according to the legend invented by Ivan. The Inquisitor (Ivan) asserts that only tyranny can give people, the "weak creatures such as they have been created, peaceful, humble happiness". But Christ (Aleksei) wishes to emancipate people from their fears and provide them with "a free heart so that they may determine what is good and what is evil". A gesture from The Inquisitor - and an obedient crowd is ready to crucify Christ again. "Why have you come here to hinder us? … Be off and never come back, never!" 

Ivan is lacerated by pangs of conscience: he accuses himself of toying with the idea of killing his father. Reality and fantasy become confused in his mind and the ghost of Fyodor Pavlovich appears to him. 

Ivan comes to visit Dmitri in prison in order to confess to him his sinful desires. Despite the prison bars, the brothers are reconciled and they now love each other: their common fate and common sufferings have finally brought them closer to one another. 

Aleksei cannot watch human suffering and, driven by love for his fellow men, he frees the convicts incarcerated in "The House of the Dead". Their heads reeling from the belief that "everything is permitted", the convicts destroy everything in their path. 

The family comes to a dreadful end: Fyodor Pavlovich is murdered, Dmitri is in jail, and Ivan goes insane. Aleksei realises that in spite of his love and devotion, even he cannot save his family.

Erkel Theatre

Opened in 1911 originally, the Erkel Theatre is Hungary’s largest theatre building. Its history is intertwined with the golden age of Hungarian opera performance, with such luminaries as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Éva Marton and Grace Bumbry all having graced the stage of a building whose acoustics are considered the stuff of opera legend.

After being shuttered up for more than five years with its fate in doubt following closure in 2007, the Hungarian government last year provided 1.7 billion forints in grants for the theatre’s renewal, allowing the Hungarian State Opera to renovate the Erkel Theatre to a standard suitable for holding performances.

Much of the refurbishments took place behind the scenes, with soloist and shared dressing rooms and common areas refitted and expanded. In addition, the stage’s technical equipment has undergone significant modernisation, while the building’s service systems (water, plumbing, heating and ventilation) have also been brought up to date.

Audiences will now step into an auditorium with a completely new look, while every effort was made to ensure that the building's fantastic acoustic properties remained unchanged. A factor that will greatly increase comfort is the modern ventilation system installed in the seating area. Although the number of seats has been reduced from 1,935 to 1,819 by refitting the rows of seats for more comfort, the theatre nevertheless retains its rank as the highest capacity theatre in Hungary – and in Eastern Central Europe.

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