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Ferenc Bónis

(b Budapest, Jan 1, 1892; d Budapest, Nov 4, 1935). Hungarian director, composer and critic . He studied composition with Koessler and Viktor Herzfeld at the Budapest Academy of Music (1906–11) and later taught at the Fodor Conservatory (1912–19) and at the Budapest College of Music (1919–25). He also wrote music criticism for various daily newspapers in the Hungarian capital from 1919 to 1925. From August 1925 until his early death he was artistic director of the Royal Hungarian Opera House in Budapest. His tenure brought consolidation and higher artistic standards to the institution between the two world wars. By engaging young artists (János Ferencsik as co-répétiteur, later conductor, and Kálmán Nádasdy and Gusztáv Oláh as directors), he ushered in a new phase in the history of the opera house. Radnai engaged the leading Italian conductor Sergio Failoni as chief conductor for the Wagner, Verdi, Bartók and Kodály repertory. He was as eager to produce the works of contemporary Hungarian composers (Jenő Ádám, Bartók, Ernő Dohnányi, Hubay, Kodály, Kósa, Albert Siklós, Tivadar Szántó, Leó Weiner) as those of earlier masters of Hungarian music (Erkel, Liszt, Mosonyi) and of his foreign contemporaries (Debussy, Falla, Hindemith, Malipiero, Milhaud, Ravel, Respighi, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, Zandonai). In revitalizing the design and production side, establishing discipline during rehearsals and performances, and educating a young and gifted generation of singers, Radnai created one of the most successful chapters in the history of Hungarian opera. He also contributed knowledgeable studies of works by Gounod, Erkel, Poldini and Goldmark to the literature of operatic analysis....


Steven Huebner

(b Montréal, France, Sept 14, 1805; d Paris, April 24, 1870). French journalist and theatre director. After law studies, he joined the staff of Le Figaro as a theatre critic. He wrote for a number of other papers before taking up the directorship of the Théâtre des Variétés in 1841, a post he occupied until 1847 when he became co-director of the Opéra with Charles Duponchel. Duponchel withdrew from the association in 1849, leaving Roqueplan as sole director until 1854. The two most important premières during his tenure were Verdi’s Jérusalem (1847) and Meyerbeer’s Le prophète (1849), though the first of these was not very successful. In 1851 Roqueplan also oversaw Gounod’s début with Sapho. Later, as director of the Opéra-Comique from 1857 to 1860, he gave Meyerbeer’s Le pardon de Ploërmel; the success of that work did not rescue him from severe financial troubles and, abandoning opera production, he turned to music journalism in the last decade of his life, becoming a well-known figure in fashionable boulevard society during the Second Empire....


Brian Boydell

(b Wexford, Nov 20, 1911; d Wexford, Nov 8, 1988). Irish writer on opera and co-founder of the Wexford Festival. He was educated in Wexford and at University College, Dublin, where he graduated in medicine in 1944. In Dublin he also studied singing. In autumn 1950 two young collectors of opera records came to him with the idea of forming an opera study group. With the active support of the novelist Compton Mackenzie, they mounted a production of Balfe’s Rose of Castille in October 1951, which initiated the annual Wexford Festival. While still working as an anaesthetist at the Wexford County Hospital, Walsh undertook the artistic direction of the festival, personally recruiting the principal singers and organizing the training of the local amateur chorus until his retirement after the 1966 season. His devoted enthusiasm helped ensure the international fame of the festival, an achievement recognized by the award of an honorary MA from the University of Dublin in ...