View of the Houses of Parliament and the Danube from the Fisherman's Bastion
The restaurant where we dine on New Years Eve
The Opera House Budapest
Palace of the Arts
Fisherman's Bastion, where we have Gala New Years Eve Dinner
Interior of Budapest Opera House
New Year Opera & Music in Budapest
29 December 2013 - 2 January 2014
Celebrate the start of 2014 in Hungary’s attractive capital, Budapest and enjoy two wonderful musical events; La Bohème performed in the beautiful Opera House and a Haydn concert in the state of the art Palace of the Arts on New Year’s day.
This is an unescorted tour for those who prefer to travel independently, yet still have the Arblaster & Clarke organisation. If you prefer an expert led wine tour for New Year, please see our New Year tours.
Budapest is neatly divided into two by the River Danube. Buda, which includes the Castle District and the Gellert Hill commands magnificent views over the Danube. The former Royal Palace which houses the Hungarian National Gallery is in the attractive Castle District as well as the “northern French Gothic” style Church of Our Lady (usually referred to as the Matthias Church). The streets are largely traffic free as only residents may enter this region and strolling away from the main attractions, there are beautiful baroque mansion-lined streets and treasures such as the Lutheran Church; a stone gateway built in 1936 to commemorate 250 years since the recapture of Buda Castle from the Turks; and the huge Neo-Romanesque building of the National Archives for example. You will be based in the Five Star Hotel Hilton, near the “Fisherman’s Bastion” in the Castle District where we have booked City/Danube view rooms. The Fisherman’s Bastion is an intricate new-Romanesque edifice built in the 19th century on the site of the fish market.
The fine buildings of the 19th century centre of Pest, on the opposite bank of the Danube, and the classic railway stations, covered market and bridges such as the famous “Chain Bridge”, bear testament to the city’s wealth and power in this era. Here you will find the Opera House, the main shopping and commercial districts, a pedestrianised promenade along the Danube, the Elisabeth Bridge (reconstructed in 1964 to its original design), the Jewish Quarters and Holocaust Memorial, the University and the Hungarian National Museum.
Budapest is also known for its cafe culture and no visit to the city would be complete without time spent in at least one of the great classic cafés, former haunts of artists and poets, which have been revived and rejuvenated after being destroyed in the war or shut down by the communists to discourage rebellion. Try Gerbaud (as famous for its delicious cakes as the stunning rooms these are served in); the New York on the ground floor of the New York Palace or the famous Cafe Central or just opposite our hotel, the Ruszwurm, the oldest of the cafés.
La Bohème at the Budapest Opera House
The Opera House was renovated during 1980-84 to its original splendour to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its opening. Emperor Franz Joseph financed the original construction of this fine classic Opera House. The austere exterior is adorned with statues of Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi and seated statues of Franz Liszt and Ferenc Erkel, the first director of the Opera House, are on the sides of the main entrance. The main entrance is decorated with wrought iron lamps amd two imposing stone sphinxes. The auditorium is lavishly decorated in red and gold and the ceiling is decorated with Karoly Lotz’s breathtaking frescoes depicting Olympus and the Greek gods. A huge gilded chandelier hangs down from the ceiling. The ceiling of the superb bar area is fittingly painted with the main events from Dionysos life. Tonight’s performance of Puccini’s La Boheme is performed in Italian by the Hungarian State Opera.
New Years Eve Gala Dinner at the Fisherman’s Bastion
The New Year’s eve gala dinner takes place just a very short stroll from the hotel in a stunning restaurant within the walls of the famous Fisherman’s Bastion. A welcome drink, a six course gala dinner with wine, a glass of sparkling wine for the midnight toast is included. A live band will be playing all evening.
The Palace of Arts – Haydn’s “The Seasons”
The Palace of Arts, which has won numerous awards for its function and architecture was completed in 2005 and designed by a young local architect, Gabor Zoboki, himself an ardent music fan and amateur conductor. The impressive building holds two concert halls and the Modern Art Museum. Floor to ceiling windows, natural stone floors and a variety of wood including maple and walnut line the huge walls and tall columns. It is a truly stunning interior! The impressive main concert hall, for which Zoboki enlisted the expertise of American acoustic expert Russell Johnson, seats 1900 and has as its backdrop the most prestigious concert organ of Europe. Each year since 2008 this has been the setting for a New Year’s Day concert; Haydn’s wonderful oratorio,the Seasons, is played to mark the occasion. The Seasons, were the composer’s last major works. He is reported to have said of The Seasons that it ‘broke my back’. The work was, indeed, enormous, taking from 1798 to 1801 to complete, and the tireless effort which Haydn lavished on the score ruined his health.
The Seasons will be performed by the Gustav Mahler Choir Vienna of the Orfeo Orchestra which was founded in Budapest in 1991 by György Vashegyi, receiving its name from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, following the first full performance of the opera in Hungary. The Orfeo is the most authentic exponent of classical compositions in Hungary and has given many first performances on period instruments.
Haydn: The Seasons.
Orchestra: Orfeo, Conductor: René Jacobs
The Gustav Mahler Choir Vienna and soloists: Julia Kleiter (Soprano), Szabolcs Brickner (Tenor) and Konstantin Wolff (Bass)
Artistic Director: Gyorgy Vashegyi