Miskolc National Theater
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The people of Miskolc always had an appreciation for theatre and cared deeply about Hungarian dramatic art. After Déryné and her company conquered the city with performances in the old coach house of the Korona Inn, and then later on a temporary stage next to the Sötétkapu, the citizens worried when the company went on tour: will the actors come back? This fear gave the construction of a theatre the last boost it needed, and the people of the County of Borsod let the resident council know their will: "... Miskoltzon, mint Magyar Nyelven beszéllő... vidék közepén fekvő népes mező városban, állandó játékszínt építeni és ki is nyitni akarunk" (“ … in Hungarian speaking Miskolc, … in the market-town situated in the middle of the country-side, we want to build and open a theatre” (old Hungarian citation).
The ceremonial laying of the foundation-stone was held in 1819, and the theatre, the inside still unfinished, was opened on 24th August 1823. It stood in what is now Déryné street, behind the later theatre. At the opening ceremony, the company staged The Tatars in Hungary by Kisfaludy Károly. The members of György Éder’s company (Alajos Kőszegi, István Nagy, János Takács, Erzsébet Czégényi, Magyari, Magyariné, Horváthné, Éderné) after the opening performed in Donna Diana, Lutza’s Chair, Stuart Maria, Bohó Misi.
Count István Széchenyi, who was a national patron of the dramatic arts, welcomed the construction of the permanent theatre in 1827: “… ámbár nagyon szomorú, hogy olly nagy Hazánkba csak Miskolcon áll egy olly intézet, amely a nagy célnak megfelelend... mégis örül a szívem, hogy valahol már a kezdet megvolt." (“… although it is sad that, in our big country, only in Miskolc is there an institution that serves our great goal … but my heart rejoices that the first step has been taken.”). – old Hungarian citation, Count István Széchenyi)
Based on contemporary descriptions, the first theatre might have looked like this drawing. The building featured a wood tile roof, upper flooring constructed of planed board, and, at the front of the building, two chambers right at the entrance, one for the desk, the other for the confectioner. In the beginning there was no gallery and no loge (theater boxes), but later Mr. Ábrahám Vay, the unforgettable sub-prefect of the County of Borsod, paid for the construction of 32 boxes, and “upon this a gallery with double and single benches." (Honművész, Pest, 1833, regarding the theatre completed in 1828)
The old theatre building was completely destroyed in a fire that swept through Miskolc in 1843. The foundation-stone of the current building was laid in 1847. The construction was financed by a public stock company founded by sub-prefect Bertalan Szemere. The new theatre, based on designs by József Cassano, was dedicated on 3rd September 1857. The first director of the Theatre was Endre Latabár, whose company staged Vörösmarty’s Marót bán play. Mór Jókai and his wife, Róza Laborfalvi were present at the opening ceremony. At this point, the Theatre was christened the Miskolc National Theatre.
During the 150 years life of the building, it was renovated and expanded several times but it always retained its external classicist and internal neo-baroque style.
In the years of 1880 significant renovations were made as central heating and the gas lighting were added. The tower built at this time was used as a fire lookout tower; nowadays, there’s a precision clock. Between 1957 and 1959 the building was renovated and modernized again.