Stars of the Opera
16 July 2017 (Sunday), 8 pm
Margaret Island Open-Air Stage
Taking up the invitation by Budapest Summer Festival, we are proud to welcome three star singers as they come to win the audience’s hearts at Margaret Island. Gorgeous American soprano Ailyn Pérez is not only known for her soothing and honey-toned voice but also for her stunning stage performances. We're excited to hear Italian baritone Gabriele Viviani sing in Hungary for the first time and to discover an entirely new side to charming Albanian tenor Rame Lahaj from Kosovo.
Although following the tradition of the three tenors’ concerts, the competition between the singers is not in the focus of this opera gala. Instead, a set of the most splendid romantic and flamboyant arias will make the audience's hearts leap with delight. The themes, duets and trios performed will bring some of Verdi's, Puccini's and Mozart's most memorable and enticing opera scenes to the stage: stories of heartbreak and longing lovers, nagging and bantering couples, courtship and jealousy, revenge and raging passion.
We are happy to welcome Péter Halász back to conduct the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra during this performance.
Presented by Open Air Theatre
Ailyn Pérez (soprano)
Rame Lahaj (tenor)
Gabriele Viviani (Baritone)
and the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Péter Halász
Producer: Teodóra Bán
Hailed by the New York Times as “a beautiful woman who commands the stage” and “a major soprano,” Ailyn Pérez is increasingly in demand at the world’s leading opera houses and cultural capitals.
Ailyn Pérez has received several honours including the 2012 Richard Tucker Award (thereby becoming the only Hispanic recipient in the award’s 35-year history), the 15th annual Plácido Domingo Award, the 2016 Beverly Sills Award from The Metropolitan Opera, the 2017 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Distinguished Alumni Award. As Opera News observes, “The phrase ‘an embarrassment of riches’ might have been invented to describe the combination of talents that belong to Ailyn Pérez … who truly seems to have it all.”
Ailyn begins the 2016-17 season with a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Mimi (La bohème), before performing Violetta (La Traviata) at Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin. She will also give recitals in Chicago, at the Three Palaces Festival in Malta, Wolf Trap Foundation USA, and will return to Teatro alla Scala as Violetta and as Mimi. Further ahead, Ailyn will return to the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Houston Grand Opera and Metropolitan Opera, and will make her house debut at Netherlands Opera and role debut as Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte).
Ailyn Pérez is a graduate of Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts and Indiana University. Her many accolades include the George London Foundation’s Leonie Rysanek Award, Shoshana Foundation Career Grant (2007), 2nd place in the 2006 Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, and honors from the Loren L. Zachary Foundation, Opera Index, and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. Ailyn is also a member of the Metropolitan Opera Guild Artist’s Council and the Advisory Board for Time In Kids, an acclaimed arts education and outreach initiative based in New York City.
She recently joined the New Century Chamber Orchestra for a concert series featuring Rachmaninov’s Vocalise and the ‘Letter Scene’ from Eugene Onegin; and created the role of Tatyana Bakst in the World Premiere of Jake Heggie’s Great Scott at Dallas Opera, before returning to Dallas as the title role in Manon. She had return engagements at Houston Grand Opera as the Countess (Le nozze di Figaro), The Met as Musetta (La bohème), and starred as Juliette in a new production of Romeo et Juliette for Santa Fe Opera.
Ailyn made her Metropolitan Opera debut in Spring 2015 as Michaela (Carmen). Additional highlights have included her Houston Grand Opera debut as Desdemona (Otello); Mimi (La boheme) at the Teatro alla Scala and at the Hamburgische Staatsoper; Adina (L’elisir d’amore) at the Vienna State Opera and Washington National Opera; Violetta for Covent Garden, Ópera de Oviedo, the Bayerische Staatsoper and in a new production for Hamburg State Opera; Violetta and Manon on a Japanese tour with the Royal Opera House; her house debuts at the Bolshoi – as Mimì (La bohème) – and at Glyndebourne, as Falstaff’s Alice Ford; Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and Marguerite (Faust) for Hamburg State Opera; Suzel (L’amico Fritz) in Moscow; Mimì in Zurich and Los Angeles.
„Her voice has a distinctive timbre, with plaintive richness blended into its youthful bloom ... Ms. Pérez, a beautiful woman who commands the stage, has the makings of a major soprano.” Anthony Tommasini , THE NEW YORK TIMES
„Ailyn Pérez confirms her outstanding artistic qualities. Her beautiful and generous voice, her commanding technique as well as the broadest possible spectrum of feelings allow her to make a captivating drama of every piece.” Remy Franck ,PIZZICATO
Other roles include Pamina (Die Zauberflőte) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) at the Ravinia Festival; Marguerite (Faust) in Santa Fe and Amelia Grimaldi (Simon Boccanegra) at La Scala, the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, and opposite Leo Nucci at the Opernhaus Zurich. Other portrayals include the title role in Roméo et Juliette, Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Marzelline in Fidelio, Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, and the Four Heroines in Les contes d’Hoffmann. She has appeared at Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Berlin’s Staatsoper unter den Linden, Zurich Opera, Valencia’s Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, and Chile’s Teatro Municipal de Santiago.
Ailyn sang opposite Plácido Domingo in gala concerts at the Royal Opera House and as Mimì in a concert performance of La bohème at the Salzburg Festival. In concert she has performed Verdi’s Requiem with the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal, conducted by Yannick Nézet Seguin; Mozart’s Requiem with Antonio Pappano and the Accademia Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome; and Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with Essen Philharmoniker. She has given recitals at London’s Rosenblatt Recitals and Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. Ailyn has also performed at and Berlin’s German AIDS Foundation and appeared in concert with concert with Domingo, Carreras, and Andrea Bocelli. Her album recital debut – Poème d’un jour, a program of French and Italian songs on the Opus Arte label – was released to rave reviews; the UK’s Independent awarded it a full five stars, while International Record Review confessed: “Every so often, a singer comes along who completely bowls you over.”
Other past highlights include performances at the Hamburg State Opera as Violetta (La traviata), before singing the role for Ópera de Oviedo and the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. Pérez then performed La traviata for San Francisco Opera and at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, where she was hailed as “an ideal Violetta” (Observer, UK). Pérez appeared twice more at Covent Garden that season, singing the title role of Massenet’s Manon, and making her role debut as Liù in Turandot. On the concert stage, she graced a star-studded Richard Tucker Music Foundation gala event at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, with fellow Tucker Award-winners including Renée Fleming and Joyce DiDonato.
„Perez’s lyric soprano is pure and honeyed in tone, and she deploys it with elegance and tenderness … Perez is also a natural actress ...” Mike Silverman , ASSOCIATED PRESS
Born in Lucca, Gabriele Viviani studied music under M° Graziano Polidori, with whom he continues to study. At the same time, he was a student of bassoon and singing at Conservatorio “L. Boccherini” in Lucca, where he studied with M° Marco Boccassini.
He has competed in several international competitions. He was the winner of the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari “Mozart Competition”, for which he was given the roles of Don Giovanni and Figaro. He was also the winner of the Mascagni prize at the Cascina Lirica Competition, and he won a special prize and scholarship at the Toti dal Monte Competition in Treviso. As a result, he attended a masterclass with the famous mezzosoprano Regina Resnik and shortly after that, he debuted as Valentin in Gounod’s Faust under the conduction of M° Peter Maag.
Despite his young age, Viviani has been acclaimed for roles including Belcore (L’Elisir d’Amore) and Malatesta (Don Pasquale) in Bologna, Marcello (La Bohème) in Genoa, Enrico (Lucia di Lammermoor) in Tokyo with Stefania Bonfadelli and Marcelo Alvarez, with great reviews from public and critics.
Since 2004, Viviani has perfomed on the most important stages worldwide, including: Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa (Simon Boccanegra, L’Elisir d’Amore, La Favorita, Madama Butterfly, Le Villi), Teatro Lirico in Cagliari (Lucia di Lammermoor), Canadian Opera (La Bohème), Suntory Hall in Tokyo (La Bohème, Turandot), Palau de les Arts in Valencia (La Bohème), Teatro alla Scala (Madama Butterfly) conducted by M° Lorin Maazel, Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville (Simon Boccanegra).
His performance as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at Teatro Verdi in Trieste was a big success, and he was awarded as the Best Singer of 2004-05 season.
Further highlights include I Puritani at Wiener Staatsoper, La Bohème at Arena di Verona and at Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago, Lucia di Lammermoor in Lausanne and in San Francisco, La Traviata at Teatro Filarmonico in Verona and at Macerata Festival, Les Troyens and La Traviata in Valencia, Madama Butterfly in Venice with M° Nicola Luisotti conducting.
During the following seasons, Viviani performed at the Royal Opera House in London, in Tokyo in tour with Teatro Regio di Torino and at Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago (La Bohème), at the Lyric Opera of Chicago (L’Elisir d’Amore), at Arena di Verona (Madama Butterfly), at la Scala (L’Elisir d’Amore and a new production of Pagliacci), at Teatro Regio di Torino (big success for his debut as Guido di Manforte in I Vespri Siciliani, then Un Ballo in Maschera), at Champs-Elysèes in Paris (Don Pasquale), at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin (Luisa Miller), at Wiener Festwochen (La Traviata), at Wiener Staatsoper (I Vespri Siciliani, Un Ballo in Maschera), as well as at Musikverein in Graz (concert version of Giovanna d’Arco with ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien).
In the recent seasons he sang La Bohème at Royal Opera House and in Zurich, Don Carlo in Florence, Tosca at Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago and at Mariinsky, Un Ballo in Maschera at La Scala and in Tokyo in tournée with Teatro Regio di Torino, La Traviata in Oviedo and at Wiener Festwochen, Attila in Shanghai, Madama Butterfly at Opéra Bastille, I Puritani in Bilbao.
Most recently, Andrea Chénier in Naples, Madama Butterfly at the Royal Opera House, Lucia di Lammermoor at La Scala, La Traviata in Barcelona, Madama Butterfly at Opéra Bastille.
Rame Lahaj was born and raised in Istog, Kosovo in a non musical family. His hometown did not even have a single school of music. He was imbued with dedication, love and effort he wanted to reach his big dream, he is amongst those who have thrived, led by strong self-determination. For someone, who pretends to excel in a professional music, he did not seem to urge his interest in this walk of life as he only began to show it at the age of 21. It was at that age, when the future Tenor first started his professional musical training.
His beginnings were not of the greatest since his talent was acknowledged properly and encouraged comments were not present. But that did not halt the young creator’s passion for music, and his seriousness at work which a year later, in 2004 enabled him to attain the right of studying at the Academy of Arts in Tirana. He graduated with honor as a student of 2008’s generation. Interestingly, he obtained a job as an artistic director at the RTV 21 Channel in Kosovo, when he worked on the period from 2009 to 2011, being inactive in music at the time. Lahaj made his first appearance in the international operatic scene with the role of Alfredo Germont in La Traviata in the 50th anniversary of Eutin Festival in Germany. Associated with his vocal quality was also his determination at work that had pushed Lahaj further to appear on Hungarian State Opera in Budapest in the role of Macduff from Macbeth in 2011. The German scene would also enable the tenor to make several appearances in his debut roles. The tenor came with another significant role for his repertory, the role of Rodolfo in La Boheme at the Theatre Dortmund.
Lahaj’s performance agenda rapidly extended to international dimensions during the course of 2012. He was invited to perform at the National Opera de Lyon in France as part of the I Puritani production. On the same year, he performed the role of Rodolfo/La Boheme, in the National Opera de Montpellier. The outspoken success of the Tenor in Italy took over after he performed in the role of Duca di Mantova/Rigoletto at Teatro Massimo di Palermo. The season of 2013/14 proved to be quite rewarding for the artist placing him into prestigious scenes such as Semperoper Dresen as Duca di Mantova/Rigoletto, Alfredo/La Traviatta and Rodolfo/La Boheme.
Lahaj’s appearance in the United Kingdom most prominent stage, The Royal Albert Hall during the season of 2014/15 with the role of Rodolfo/La Boheme was an absolute success. The Tenor appeared in famous media like BBC Channel and many others. His career was time and again commented continuously as Lahaj kept performing on Europe theaters during the season of 2014/15. He made several appearances with the role of Duca di Mantova/Rigoletto at La Monnaie, Brussels and in Haus fur Mozart in Salzburg. In his agenda was also Warsaw National Opera with his two favorite roles of the time, Duca di Mantova/Rigoletto and Alfredo Germont/La traviata. Pinkerton/Madama Butterfly, was one of the most dramatic debuts of the artist, performed in Gran Teatro Giaccomo Puccin, in Torre Del Laggo of Italy. A season later, he perform the same role at the Las Palmas in Spain.
Lahaj stretched his fame intercontinentally during the course of 2015. A walk of fame which led him to climb the iconic scene of Sydney Opera House in Australia, where he made an outstanding performance and had the public astonished with the role of Alfedo Germont/La Traviata. The year of 2016 brought for Lahaj the most outstanding title. In the world’s largest operatic contest ‘Placido Domingo‘s Operalia’, which was held in Mexico, Lahaj was awarded with the same title of a lyric singer. This price made Lahaj a worldwide recognized Tenor of the great class.