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janos hunyadi

Hunyadi László (opera)

Hunyadi László (László Hunyadi) is an opera in three acts by the Hungarian composer Ferenc Erkel. The libretto, by Béni Egressy, is based on a play by Lörinc Tóth. The opera was first performed at the Pesti Nemzeti Magyar Szinház, Budapest on 27 January 1844. Hunyadi László is considered to be the first important Hungarian opera and Erkel's musical style draws on folk influences, particularly the dance known as the verbunkos.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 27 January, 1844
(Conductor: - )
László V King of Hungary tenor Mihály Havi
Erzsébet Szilágy widow of János Hunyadi soprano Rozália Klein Schodel
László Hunyadi her son tenor Adolf Pecz
Mátyás Hunyadi László's brother mezzo-soprano Rosa Csillag
Miklós Gara the count palatine bass Miklós Udvarhelyi
Mária his daughter soprano Leopoldina Molnár
Ulrik Cilley the regent baritone Mihály Füredy
Rozgonyi an army officer baritone


The opera is based on events which took place in Hungary in 1456-7. The great king, Janos Hunyadi, who defended Hungary against the attacks of the Ottoman Turks is dead and power has passed to his enemies. The new king, László V, is weak and surrounded by evil advisers, who counsel him to kill Hunyadi's son, László, a leading figure in the Hungarian army. László is warned of the plot and survives. The king pretends friendship with the young man but his mother, Erzsébet, fears for the lives of her sons. The king falls in love with László's fiancée, Mária, and persuades her father to force her to marry him instead. He has László arrested, accusing him of being in a conspiracy. Mária fails in her bid to free László from prison and he is condemned to death, the executioner only succeeding in cutting off his head at the fourth attempt.


  • Hunyadi László András Molnár, Istvan Gáti, Sylvia Sass, Dénes Gulyás, Hungarian State Opera and Chorus, conducted by J. Kovács (Hungaroton, 1985). Apart from this recording of the complete opera, there exists a famous recording of the aria "Nagy eg ..." made by the great American dramatic soprano Lillian Nordica in 1907, for Columbia Records. This particularly brilliant example of Nordica's singing has been reissued on CD by Marston Records (number 52027-2) and other labels.


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