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The programme for the 2016 Szeged Open-air Festival is set!

The Flying Dutchman, Dracula's Last Dance, Me and my Little Brother, Mamma Mia!, Les Misérables, Singin' in the Rain, Comedy of Errors: these are the productions that the Szeged Open-air Festival has in store for 2016. For the festival's 85th anniversary next summer, some of the bigest hits from recent years will again be staged on Cathedral Square, joined by three new productions. Tickets sales have begun, with no rise in ticket prices.


In 2016, the Szeged Open-air Festival will be celebrating its 85th birthday. Hungary's biggest open-air festival was first established in 1931, and ever since has been one of the country's pre-eminent cultural events and the city's chief tourist draw and symbol. To kick off this press release announcing the programme for next years, Director Tamás Herczeg reminds everyone that over the course of the 85 years, close to four million viewers have watched 1295 performances of 425 productions at Cathedral Square. The management is celebrating this major anniversary with a special season. Such a long season has not been seen for decades, nor have audience members had the chance to see so many different productions.

Gyula Harangozó, the Festival's artistic director, has stated that in developing the concept for the jubilee year, they made sure to include on the programme both new productions and the biggest hits from the last few years in order to completely meet the requirements for popular theatre. Every genre will be given its chance to shine under the stars, including opera, dance, operetta, musical theatre, prose drama and symphonic music. The audience will have the chance to watch eight productions, including the Gift Concert, on Cathedral Square this time, of which four are new. With one exception, these are all works that Hungarian viewers would have seen or will be seeing for the first time at the Szeged Open-air Festival.

RICHARD WAGNER AT THE FESTIVAL FOR THE FIRST TIME

No work of Wagner's has ever been staged at the Szeged Open-air Festival. In 2016, however, one of the master's defining musical works, The Flying Dutchman, will open the festival. Audiences will get the chance to see it, in a co-production with the National Theatre of Miskolc, on July 1st and 2nd. The tragic love story of the accursed Dutchman who has been wandering the sea since the dawn of time and a dreaming, self-sacrificing girl offers numerous opportunities to create a truly spectacular production on the scale that viewers have come to expect from the Festival.

The second premiere for the season will be the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble's folk-dance production Dracula's Last Dance, to be shown on July 8th and 9th. This reworking of the story of the Transylvanian count who is a also vampire emphasises the marvellous and multifarious melodic world of Transylvanian folk music, as well as the inimitably unique virtuosity of the dances of the different peoples of Transylvania. The story has the young count, engorged with blood, aging into a starved old vampire when his energy runs out. He needs the blood of young women in order to rejuvenate himself and lure more bewitched women to himself like a magnet. What we don't know is whether there might be something that stands in the way of all this.

Performances of the Budapest Operetta Theatre's production of Mihály Eisemann's Me and my Little Brother will be coming on July 15th and 16th. Since the last season's programme included no works of operetta, the management wanted to offer the audience in 2016 a hilariously funny production that is completely true to the traditions of the genre. The hit show, a mainstay of Hungarian theatres, will now be staged with a new musical arrangement and a parade of luminaries on the cast list. The story, which takes place on a grand set depicting Venice, has given the world of operetta, in addition to the title music, such catchy and classic melodies as "A bit angelic, a bit demonic...", "Pshaw, my little dear, pshaw..." and "Mia bella Signorina".

With interest in Mamma Mia! never waning, the management couldn't stand in the way of popular demand, and ABBA's musical will be returning to Szeged for two performances, on July 22nd and 23rd. Along with Mamma Mia!, the audience will also get the chance on July 29th and 30th to watch the previous hit collaboration with the Madach Theatre: Les Misérables, staged with a set of a monumentality that had never been seen before.

SINGIN' IN THE RAIN: CASTING IS UNDERWAY

The sensation of the season will be a super-production born as a collaboration with the Budapest Operetta Theatre: Singin' in the Rain, credited to the writing quartet of Comden, Green, Freed and Brown. This will be the first production in the history of the Festival for which the festival's management requested and obtained the rights. The world premiere of the global smash hit musical took place in 1938, in London's West End, from where it went on to conquer Broadway, without losing its popularity since. Today, the 1952 film Singin' in the Rain, upon which the musical is based, is considered a classic and is associated in everyone's mind with Gene Kelly's cheerful tap-dance in the rain. These tunes will be resounding through Cathedral Square on August 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th and 20th, as this charmingly romantic story takes us back to the golden age of Hollywood.

The original film counts as one of the most popular films of all time. The story has silent film star Don Lockwood and his regular partner Lina Lamont are getting ready to make the first talking picture of their lives, except it turns out that Lina's on-screen voice is completely unbearable. Don's friend, Cosmo Brown, nominates the budding starlet Kathy as a voice double, and of course the handsome actor falls in love with her. Lina, however, doesn't take kindly to this and uses every tool at her disposal to try to sabotage the romance.

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS RETURNS

The sensation of the 2015 season was The Comedy of Errors: the Shakespearean work was an unalloyed success with the audience and critics alike. Despite the fact that the prose work was being shown on Cathedral Square for the first time in years, the two evenings were standing room only, and the production received a rating of 4.8 in the audience opinion poll. Thus, by popular demand, it is being brought back for one performance, together with its rich cast and thrilling visuals. This production by KERO® will be concluding the 2016 season on August 27th.

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