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National Dance Theatre

alias Castle Theatre (until 01.12.2001)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)16.10.1787 | Opening
The theatre was opened on 16 October 1787 with the play Der Mönich von Berge Carmel (The Monk from Carmel Mountain).
(detail)25.10.1790 | First Hungarian Language Professional Performance

The play was titled Igazházi, written by Alois Friedrich Brühl and Kristóf Simai. After this event another 43 years had to pass before the next performance in Hungarian language.  


(detail)07.05.1800 | Beethoven gives a concert in the theatre

(detail)1854 | Renovation

(detail)1918 | Opening after Reconstruction

(detail)13.02.1978 | Total Reconstruction

A total renovation was only carried out in 1978. The main aspect was to maintain the monument nature of the venue, therefore the church was preserved in its original form, with the theatre hall implanted in it, as in a shell. The works were executed by the Kommunális Beruházó Vállalat (Communal Investment Company). The designer architect of the reconstruction was László Kékesi, the interior designer Pál Mozer, the acoustic and sound designer Ferenc Vajda, and the leading architect János Nagy. The theatre opened on 13 February 1978.


People

Farkas Kempelen |architect

History

Architectural description

The theatre is situated at the Southern part of the Royal Castle, next to the Sándor Palace; in seats the Hungarian Presidencial Office.  Following the decision of Joseph II the church of Carmelites was converted into a theatre and the refectory into a casino.

The main entrance of the two-storey theatre opens from St. George's Square. The middle projection facade is articulated with five opening axes, from which three articulate the three middle projections. The ground floor surface is horizontally rusticated, separated from the first floor with dividing edge. On the top of the building a closing edge runs around.

The main entrance can be found in the symmetry axis of the facade. On the first floor the windows of the middle projection are arch-ended; on the first floor square-ended; which are articulated with four Corinthian columns pilasters. Above the arched ended windows can be seen the aedicule stone frames. Above the arched opening of the main entrance a balcony was created. Two doors can be found on two sides of the entrance.

Despite the fact that the church was cleared of sacrament the theatre kept the sacrament as the “sacred” part of the theatre is the stage; which can be found just in the same place as the sanctuary was in the church. The traps and the lower machinery were placed to the place of the former crypt; the auditorium was developed to the place of the nave.

Entering the main gate we arrive at the foyer from which pass on we get to a space used as the cloakroom and the gallery. From left open the buffet and the lavatories. From the corridor starts from the end of the room opens the room of management and the changing room.

Going up on the stairs from two sides of the foyer we get at the first floor gallery from where we the auditorium opens. That is a linearly confronted type auditorium.  The boxes formed in the XVIII century were demolished; actually the wall of the auditorium is decorated with plaster plastic arts. The balconies upstairs are used now as the supporting structure of the side lights.

The size of the stage is not too large due to the initial conditions of the Theatre. It does not have back or side stages.

 

History

The monastery of the barefooted Franciscan monks was founded by Béla IV. after the Tartar invasion between 1269-70. During the Turkish occupation it was used as a Pasha mosque. In 1986, at the siege of Buda the monastery, just as the tower for storing gunpowder was blown up. The building in ruins was donated to the Carmelite order by the emperor Leopold I, in 1693. The ground stone of the new building was placed on 4 March 1725 and sanctified on 18 September 1763. In 1784 Joseph II closed the Carmelite monastery and the building was first used as a military deposit, later as private residence. The developing city needed quality entertainment facilities. Therefore Joseph II decreed the transformation of the monastery into a casino and the church into a theatre. 21 thousand forints were reserved for the theatre 5 thousand for the casino (with three bowling alleys), 400 for the dance hall, 28 362 forints altogether. Farkas Kempelen and Schönstein court councillor were commissioned with the design of the theatre. The constructions were executed with the leadership of Kristóf Hikisch. The interior of the theatre is 47.30 metre long, 17.06 metre wide, with a stage depth of 19 metres. The old cells were used to shape the dressing rooms, while the traps lead to the crypt. The auditorium, seating 1200, was organized in such a way as to incorporate 33 two-seat boxes on the first two levels and a box for the court aristocrats situated to the left from the stage. On the third floor in the middle there were pit-stalls, with gallery seats on the sides. There were 5-5 boxes on each side of the stalls. The proscenium arch was decorated with gilded white staves, with the Coat of Arms of Hungary in the middle. The grey and blue fields of the ceiling were covered with the classical symbols of art, with Apollo’s face in the middle.

The theatre was opened on 16 October 1787 with the play Der Mönich von Berge Carmel (The Karmel Mountain Monk). The venue, usually hosting German language performances give place to the first Hungarian language theatre performance by a professional theatre group, by László Kelemen  and his company, premiered on 25 October, 1790. The play was titled Igazházi, written by Alois Friedrich Brühl and Kristóf Simai. After this event another 43 years had to pass before the next performance in Hungarian language.  

On May 7, 1800 the Castle Theatre was proud to host a very special event. There and then was the first and only concert of Ludwig van Beethoven in Buda.

The building was first renovated in 1815, commissioned by the tenant, Count Ráday.

In 1833 the German tenant went bankrupt. Then a playing permit was given to the drama department of the Music and Theatre Playing Company (Dal és Színjátszó Társaság) from Kassa (Kosice). The city of Buda rented the building to them for the symbolic ‘sum’ of one golden coin. The city volunteered to keep up the building exempting the theatre from the bridge and road fees. Their first performance was held on 7 June 1833. These artist will later be the kernel of the National Theatre. The theatre directors were: András Fáy (he resigns in 1834) and Gábor Döbrentey.

With the 1837 opening of the National Theatre the Castle Theatre lost most of its former importance in Hungarian theatre history, as for 33 only German companies played here.

In 1854 the city of Buda commissioned a renovation of the theatre building.

On 7 February, 1870 the Council of Buda decided to allow Hungarian companies only to perform here, and only performances in Hungarian. Count Lőrinc Orczy, the intendant of the National Theatre and the Council of Buda signed a contract which allowed the company to play three nights a week in the Castle Theatre. This contract was in effect until 1884. This is the year when the building was renovated again (the balcony on the first floor was built at this time and the whole auditorium was repainted). The Council of the Capital, founded in 1886 authorized again the performances of the National Theatre in the venue, three times a week, but the Népszínház (Peoples’ Theatre) and the Opera House also had guest performances here, just as the students of the Actors’ Academy.

The equipments of the theatre had slowly become obsolete, therefore during WWI the building was used as a military storage. The renovated theatre is opened again in 1918. Between 1919-1924 smaller companies played here. In 1924 the gallery collapsed and the theatre was closed, the army taking over again the leading role. In 1943 its interior equipments and theatrical design elements were removed, for fire safety reasons. In 1945 a mine explosion caused the collapse of the building’s roof.

In 1947 the structural elements of the theatre were rebuilt yet a total renovation was only carried out in 1978. The main aspect was to maintain the monument nature of the venue, therefore the church was preserved in its original form, with the theatre hall implanted in it, as in a shell. The works were executed by the Kommunális Beruházó Vállalat (Communal Investment Company). The designer architect of the reconstruction was László Kékesi, the interior designer Pál Mozer, the acoustic and sound designer Ferenc Vajda, and the leading architect János Nagy.

The theatre opened on 13 February 1978. From 1978 to 1982 it was used by the Népszínház. From 2001 it is hosting the National Dance Theatre.

 

 

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