Last night saw the fabulous Budapest Festival Orchestra and its characterful conductor, Iván Fischer present The Magic Flute at the Royal Festival Hall. The evening was an enjoyable one, and the ‘staged concert’, the maestro had called it, brought to light what can – really – be recreated at the Royal Festival Hall. Most operas and concerts at the Royal Festival Hall involve soloists with scores read from a music stand and the orchestra behind them, yet this event was a special one – a proper stage for Mozart’s action to take place, with the orchestra delightfully performing below in the pit.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra, known as one of the top orchestras in the world and winner of various accolades (including New York Magazine’s 2013 list of the city’s top classical music events and numerous Gramophone Awards for their orchestral albums), is currently on an international tour amid funding cuts decided by its city’s General Assembly – cuts from 260 million forints (US$938,000) to 60 million forints (US$217,000). That being said, the performance last night proved how solid and defiant the orchestra and its maestro were at such a crucial time; only last Saturday they protested in Vörösmarty Square, central Budapest.