an opera in three acts
Composer: Norbert Németh (1975- )
Libretto: Magda Győri (1952- )
The opera titled Mendacious Romance was
written in 2001.
In 2002 the libretto was translated into
Italian by Dóra Várnai with the title Romanza mendace and as a
result the opera became comprehensible for an international audience as well.
By the summer of 2003 a promotion film was
made, which gives a cross-section of the opera titled Mendacious Romance
and introduces the author. Parts of the opera are performed with a piano
accompaniment. The film has a Hungarian, an English and an Italian speaking
version. A cross-section performance of the opera was given on August 29, 2003
at Ercsi Eötvös Napok (Ercsi Eötvös Days) with the participation of a symphonic
orchestra and opera singers. The CD containing selections from this concert and
the piece Commemoratio is published in the 2004 (© Convention Budapest
Ltd., Ars et Sanitas , 2004.).
The music of Mendacious Romance
faithfully reflects the 'ars poetica' of the author, which says that music can
only achieve its purpose if it reaches the audience through touching their
thoughts as well as their hearts and souls. Mendacious Romance is modern
music but it is also a treasury of harmonies and melodies which are intertwined
with fascinating acoustic combinations and with the vigour and overflow of the
musical form. Any time or place can serve as a background for the plot and the
message of the opera as the emotions and problems outlined and the comic and
tragic situations arising from them are both global and timeless.
About 'Mendacious Romance'
'The operatic literature of the 20th
century broke away from traditions in the sense that, instead of relying on
conventional librettos or great classical dramas, it turned to playwrights who
were both original thinkers and significant writers for novel dramatic ideas to
be used for the new operas. Genuinely talented dramatists like Mallarmé, Ramuz,
Menyhért Lengyel or Béla Balázs became librettist for Debussy, Stravinsky,
Honegger and Bartók. As a result it was impossible to use the term 'libretto'
any longer. On the other hand, there is no other domain of modern music where
tradition exercises such a strong influence as in stage music, however original
or bold-hearted it may be.
While taking part in the preparation and
creation of the opera titled 'C'est la guerre' by Emil Petrovics I also had the
opportunity to experience how perplexing it is to solve the dilemma of the
script and how difficult it is to give this script a valid musical
This is the reason why I found reading
Magda Győri's script so fascinating. Although I am fully aware of the fact that
the fate of an opera is written in its music, every author knows how much
depends on the choice of a dramatic piece or how grave a risk they run when they
have the script written.
Magda Győri's libretto opens up new
prospects from scene to scene for the creative imagination of the composer and
she is not afraid to make use of operatic forms and ideas strongly rooted in
tradition. I am greatly interested in how the libretto is translated into music
and how it is realised on stage. This is why I am looking forward to it …'
(Miklós Hubay, 2001.)
'The first opera of Norbert Németh, the
gifted medical doctor and composer, is extraordinarily rich, colourful and
multifarious music as far as melodic ingenuity is concerned. In his music,
written for Magda Győri's modern libretto representing the eternal problems of
love, faith, seduction and deception lyrical, dramatic and character scenes
alternate with each other in a refined manner. The music of 'Mendacious Romance'
follows in the wake of romantic traditions and it is generated by overpowering
emotions: it truthfully represents the quivers of the human soul depicting it on
a wide scale from struggling with grief to feeling turbulently overwrought.'
(László Bartal, 2002.)
Opera in three acts
Homage to the opera of the 19th
Julia, Richard's young widow.....................mezzo-soprano
Veronica, Julia's niece.............................mezzo-soprano
Anna, old widow...................................................alto
Rafael, Anna's nephew.........................................tenor
Pierre, Walter's hireling, head of assassins...............tenor
Philip, inn-keeper....................................baritone buffo
contractors and prostitutes clowns,
drummers and dancers of circus
believers for Vespers.
Happens at the turn of the century in a Mediterranean town.
© 2003 Németh Norbert, Győri Magda, Ars et Sanitas Bt.
All rights reserved!
The plot of the opera
The scene is the cemetery on the hillside near
the town and in the background the facade of a church can be seen. It is late in
the afternoon and the faithful are flocking for the evening prayer. Three men
are drawing stealthily near each other from three different directions: the
assassins, Pierre, Carlo and Raul. They accomplished an assignment a couple of
months ago and they expect to receive their reward for it in the inn of the
town, where they would be waiting for the man who gave the assignment. The three
men leave in the direction from which they came. More and more light illuminates
one of the graves and Julia, the young widow by the grave. The sounds of the
Vespers filter out of the church. Julia is mourning her deceased husband,
Richard. An old widow, Anna arrives with her nephew, Rafael. The two women share
their pain. Anna feels sorry for Julia so she keeps secret the name of the man
who killed both of their husbands. The young widow inconsolably falls down on
her husband's grave. Anna leaves rather than dig deeper into her anguish. Rafael
stays, admits his affection for Julia and offers her his protection. The young
widow refuses. Rafael, feeling disillusioned, leaves Julia alone. The widow
leaves for home feeling scared of life and frightened by the shadows of the
cemetery growing dark. The sounds of the Magnificat burst out filling the
The scene is the main square of the town. On
the right you can see the terrace of the inn, which is open. The square is full
of people, and contractors and prostitutes are enjoying themselves on the
terrace of the inn. The citizens of the town are waiting for a travelling circus
to arrive. Messengers from the circus come: clowns, drummers and dancers invite
people for the evening performance. Rafael, Pierre, Carlo and Raul are also on
the terrace. Philip, the inn-keeper is busily engaged in serving his guests.
Walter arrives. The citizens start cheering because the show at the circus
begins. They leave hurriedly while the contractors and the prostitutes stay in
the inn and have a good time. Rafael would like to stop Julia who is rushing
home from the cemetery across the square but Veronica reaches Julia ahead of
him. Rafael leaves feeling miserable. Veronica tells Julia enthusiastically
about being truly in love for the first time in her life and then she leaves
flitting away. Julia is about to go on but Walter goes up to her. Julia comes
more and more under his influence without realizing it. Philip, the inn-keeper
asks the intoxicated company to leave his place. The summer night falls, the inn
becomes empty and the romance of Julia and Walter arrive at a turning point.
Philip leaves them. Julia cannot resist Walter any longer and goes away with the
man. The light of the Moon and the stars mysteriously cover the town.
The scene is Julia's room. Several months have
elapsed. When the curtain goes up Julia is lying on her bed and she is crying
miserably. The clock of the church nearby strikes a quarter of an hour. Veronica
is sitting in the middle of the room and she is paring an apple. She is trying
to console Julia but she sends her away. Julia, left alone, accuses herself for
her unfaithfulness as she is pregnant with Walter's baby. Walter has not been in
the town ever since but now he arrives unexpectedly. He came to this part of the
country again and now the first one to visit is Julia. He intends to win the
widow's favour again but she coldly refuses him. Walter leaves offended. Julia
holds Richard's picture against her heart. She has no idea who to turn to in her
despair. The church clock strikes half an hour. Julia goes up to the window
wondering whether to go to the church for some womanly advice when she catches
sight of Anna. Trusting the wisdom of the old widow she invites her up. Anna
enters the room and Julia desperately pours out her heart telling Anna about her
unfaithfulness to her husband's memory, about her pregnancy, her agony and
disgrace. Anna reacts in an unexpected manner when Julia implores her help so
desperately. She could never have a child and on becoming a widow she was left
to live a secluded life. She wickedly tells Julia that it was Walter who killed
Richard. Julia falls on the ground losing consciousness. Anna steps over her
scornfully and leaves. The church clock strikes three quarter of an hour. Walter
is driven back to Julia by his conscience and his desire. He rushes up to the
unconscious woman and his face brightens when he notices that the woman is
pregnant. When he touches her growing abdomen she regains her consciousness and
she cries out: Murderer! The baby to be born makes Walter conceited and he
carelessly brushes aside any accusations. Not realising the woman's distress he
demands that she should choose between her deceased husband and him, the father
of her child. In her dark despair Julia resolutely grabs the sharp paring-knife.
All goes dark and the scene is filled with pealing of the church bell. The clock
strikes a full hour.
© 2003 Németh Norbert, Győri Magda, "Ars et Sanitas" Bt.
All rights reserved!