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Vörösmarty Theatre

alias Municipal Theatre (-1913)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)22.08.1874 | Opening perfromance: Bánk Bán by József Katona

(detail)1959 | Reconstruction after WWII burndown

(detail)07.12.1962 | Opening: Csongor and Tünde by Mihály Vörösmarty

(detail)2004 | Full reconstruction

(detail)11.12.2005 | Opening: Csongor and Tünde by Mihály Vörösmarty

People

(detail)Skalniczky Antal |architect

Born in Lak (today called Geresdlak), a small town near Pécs, Szkalnitzky went on to study architecture in Prague, Vienna and Berlin, completing his degree in 1859. His numerous later travels took in places such as Transylvania, Dalmatia, Croatia and Italy. He worked in the studios of Friedrich August Stüler between 1858 and 1859 and was awarded the Berlin building academy's silver medal. In 1861, he was elected director of the the newly formed National Hungarian Artistic Group and taught at the Budapest Polytechnic from 1862 to 1870. He was awarded a prize at the Vienna World Fair for his design of Oktogon Square in Budapest, arguably his greatest achievement. He was one of the main representatives of historicism, including elements of Italian and French Renaissance design in his buildings. From 1868 to 1874, he practised in partnership with Henrik Koch. Szkalnitzky died in Lipótmező on June 9, 1878.

More theatres

Spránitz Tibor |architect, interior designer
Pintér Tamás |architect
Henrik Koch |architect
Szőkedencsi Géza |interior designer

History

Architectural description

The one-storey theatre building’s main facade has middle projection which is articulated with five opening axes. The middle three axes outstand of the plane of the projection. From here opens the three squared closed entrance door with canopy above. In this three axes, on the first floor, arched closed-aedicule ending windows were placed. Ionic columns articulate the facade between the openings. Arched ended windows can be seen in the side axes of the middle projection.

The ground floor surface is horizontally pointed with squared closed window openings. Dividing edge and dentil moulding closing edges run around the building. The building shows modest neo-Renaissance architecture. The side facades articulated with 14 opening axes with squared closed, aedicule framed windows. The former plain angled tympanum of the flyloft has been changed to modern cuboid type, made from assertive concrete covered with glass. The auditorium is semi circled formed, the balconies surround it in three floors.

From the lobby we can get to the café, placed a little bit further down.  Wide stairs lead upstairs to the balconies. The audience can get into the auditorium through glazed doors which are very unusual and disturbing solution in case of a theatre. The theatre was enlarged with a cuboid mass from behind. The new and the old part of the building are intercepted by a curved superstructure; and from that emerge the mass of the flyloft. The scenery storage and the back stage are connected to the stage.

 

History

Székesfehérvár is an important site of our early theatre history, a Jesuit school theatre was working here in the 18th century and it was a frequent destination of peregrine theatre companies during the 19th century. In 1818 the permanent theatre was launched in the great hall of the Pelikán Inn. In 1862 a movement started for the erection of a permanent theatre venue. The ground stone for the building designed by the architectural company Koch-Skalnitzky was placed in 1872. Antal Szkalnitzky was an outstanding architect of the time of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, already having proved his ability in this very specific architectural field with the design of the theatre in Debrecen. The first performance was held on 22. August 1874, the play Bánk Bán by József Katona, one of the most outstanding Hungarian national plays from the romantic period, with a prologue written by the novelist Mór Jókai.

Mari Jászai, our most outstanding tragedienne, was a frequent guest performer in the theatre: she played the role of Eve in the Tragedy of Man by Imre Madách in 1884. The centenary of the town’s theatre life was marked by a renaming of the theatre to Vörösmarty Színház in 1913, commemorating our greatest romantic poet, Mihály Vörösmarty, born in a nearby village, also author of the famous poem play  Csongor and Tünde.

The theatre building in eclectic style was totally bunt out in 1944, during WWII, and the ruinous theatre was used as a furniture storage for decades. During this time the theatre makers found refuge in the town’s Athletic Club and the so-called István Hall, which belong (and still belongs) to the Catholic Church.   

Between 1959-1962 the venue was reconstructed based on the plans of Tibor Spránitz and László Hornicsek (interior design), restoring the original style of the building, furnishing it with the most up-to-date stage machinery and interior design elements reflecting the aesthetic beliefs of the era.

The flyloft was built with more geometric and simple forms, being in contrast with the 19th century style clothing of the main block. The size of the auditorium was decreased to 630 seats, from the original 677, and the auditorium walls were covered with an aquamarine wooden layer, also to enhance the acoustics of the hall. The traditional boxes, reflecting a feudal hierarchic society, were replaced by a circle, in concordance with the socialist concept of equality. The interior design was supplemented with the works of several artist, such as: Tamás Vigh, Áron Lajos Nagy, István Petrilla. The initial problems of the building could not be yet solved, namely that the theatre was originally built as a receiving venue, without the necessary service areas to host a resident company.

Therefore in the following three decades the theatre worked as such, welcoming theatre companies from all around the county: the National Theatre, the Madách Theatre, the Pécs National Theatre, the Kisfaludy Theatre from Győr, the Vígszínház or the Katona József Theatre from Kecskemét – in December 1960 the local audiences could attend eight different performances from all corners of the country.

Theatre technology was modernized in the eighties and in 1995 a permanent company was founded in Székesfehérvár with ten young actors. The theatre, now used regularly by the resident company, needed another full refurbishment by the end of the century. And the political regime change also demanded an aesthetic redefinition of the town’s most prominent hall. Following several unsuccessful applications, by 2003 the town managed to receive a major governmental financial support for the reconstruction. Géza Szőkedencsi and Tamás Pintér from ARTONIC Design were the architects of the reconstruction, which was realized between 2004-2005, using about 14 million Euros. Of the 7000 square metres built in 3000 was enlargement to the original building, to cover the missing offices, dressing rooms, rehearsal rooms and chamber halls. The main guideline of the architects was similar to the earlier reconstruction: they preserved the historical design of the old building, supplementing it with elements specific to our contemporary architecture: the new wings designed as simple geometrical forms, and the flyloft covered by glass, lit during the night in different colours. Marble was intensely used in the foyer, with a spacious cafeteria leaning deep under the auditorium slope, fitted in a terraced manner. An enormous artists’ restaurant was furnished at the roof of the new wing, offering a great panorama to the historical town centre. The capacity of the auditorium was decreased to 470 seats.

Stage technology was entirely changed to modern equipment: intelligent lights, motorized flylines, and a double roundtable. A set moving platform, built of 36 pieces, enables a quick and easy movement of a fully built-up set from the back stage in half a minute.

The opening performance was Csongor and Tünde by Vörösmarty, but this time directed by a foreign artist (Vladislav Troitskiy), which caused serious controversy. In 2008 director Miklós Szurdi gave his seat over to Csaba Vasvári to lead the company of about 50 artists, playing in three halls.  

 

 

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