Vuvuzelas blare in Fischer's 'blood libel' anti: Semitism opera

Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:18pm EDT
 
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By Michael Roddy

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - In what may be the first use of vuvuzelas in opera, the blaring horns popularized by South African soccer featured in the premiere of Hungarian conductor Ivan Fischer's "The Red Heifer" about a murder blamed on Jews in northeastern Hungary.

The hour-long opera, given a concert staging on Sunday and Monday, also included a life-size if not life-accurate talking and singing red cow, a spirited session of traditional Hungarian folk dancing and a ghostly appearance by Hungary's national hero and liberation leader Lajos Kossuth, sung by bass Krisztian Cser, to denounce anti-Semitism.

Another main character was a flaming red-haired Jewish innkeeper, sung with operatic flare by soprano Orsolya Safar as the femme fatale of the region where the murder took place and who was known as "the Red Cow" and ran an inn of that name.

Fischer, who is Jewish, said he had wanted for 25 years to write an opera based on the true story of the incident in Tiszaeszlar that touched off a wave of anti-Semitism across Hungary, and he felt the time had come.

"The same responses, stereotypes and petrified, unreasonable prejudices appear nowadays as if we were back in the Red Cow Inn in Nyireghaza in 1883," he wrote in the program notes.

The score for gypsy band and full orchestra, including electric guitars and with Fischer conducting, ranged from Bach to cabaret crooning to rap.

The last was performed by a chorus dressed up as soccer hooligans brandishing a half dozen vuvuzelas. There were hints of Leonard Bernstein's "Glitter and Be Gay", as well as echoes of Mahler in what Fischer had said beforehand would be an "eclectic mix" of musical styles and sounds.

"BLOOD LIBEL"   Continued...

 
A fan blows a vuvuzela before the 2010 World Cup second round match between the United States and Ghana at Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg June 26, 2010. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi