In Hungary opera has been performed for over 300 years, just as in France, Germany and Austria. At first operas were performed by German and Italian theatrical troupes on the stages of aristocratic manor houses.
The earliest datum is about 1677: It relates of a pastoral play that was performed in the mansion of court Forgách Ádám in Pozsony. In the eighteenth century a number of aristocratic theatres were founded, the most famous of which were the operas established in the residences of princes Esterházy, first in Fertõd and later in Kismarton. This latter became the most celebrated due to the fact that Joseph Haydn had worked here for 30 years as composer and conductor: Here was the world première of Haydn’s several operas. Another important theatre was that of the bishop baron Pathetic Ádám in Nagyvárad, where the opera company was directed by Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf. In a later period, when opera was attended by the middle class as well, between 1785 and 1789 the opera of count Erdõdy János in Pozsony achieved a great reputation. At the end of the eighteenth century when the plays were performed before bourgeois audience in German language, on the repertory of the theatres were operas too. In this epoch, the first opera was performed in 1784 (it was Salver’s ’Die Schule der Eifersüchtigen’) in the Rondella in Pest. Then, after 1787 the opera performances became regular in the Castle Theatre of Buda. Much more favourable were the conditions in the German Theatre of Pest which opened in 1812. Its enormous auditorium of 3000 seats could be more or less filled only during musical performances or when famous guest actors from Vienna were playing.
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