“Thanks to Péter Halász’s euphoric yet clear and precise conducting, the Budapest Ring possesses a unique dimension and quality – and reaches the standard of the opera houses of Frankfurt or Stuttgart.” - Deutschlandradio Kultur
„An enormously versatile conductor” – Opernglas
Péter Halász is one of the most versatile Hungarian conductors and he is active in both operatic and symphonic fields. In recent years he has premiered numerous operas, which won great acclaim from Hungarian and international critics alike, with the conductors’ verve, and precise and analytical work coming in for especial praise. At the core of his repertoire are the works of the First Viennese School and the German Romantics, with particular emphasis on Mozart and Wagner. At the same time, he frequently conducts the Italian repertoire as well as contemporary music.
As music director of the Hungarian State Opera from 2013 to 2016, Péter was responsible for many successful premieres. The first of these was Verdi’s Falstaff, timed to coincide with the two hundredth anniversary of the composer’s birth. A milestone in Hungarian operatic life was when he premiered the first ever domestic performance of Richard Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten, which enjoyed a fantastic reception from critics and audiences alike and has been one of the Hungarian State Opera’s most prominent productions ever since. In collaboration with Academy Award-winning director Jiri Menzel, Péter presented Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte featuring the cream of young Hungarian singers in the principal roles. In the same season he also conducted Weber’s Der Freischütz. 2015 saw the inception of a brand-new production of Wagner’s Ring cycle with Das Rheingold, which was followed by Die Walküre in 2016, and Siegfried in 2017; featuring in the operas were such international stars as Linda Watson, Tomasz Konyeczny, and Egils Silins. When in 2016, Thomas Adès’ The Tempest received its first ever Eastern European performance, it was also the first occasion on which a stage work by the preeminent contemporary composer had been performed in Hungary.
It was at the invitation of Ádám Fischer that Péter made his debut at the Hungarian State Opera with Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia in 2010. Since then he has regularly led repertoire performances in Budapest, including Verdi’s Rigoletto (with Ambrogio Maestri in the title role), Nabucco, and La traviata; Puccini’s Turandot, Madama Butterfly, Tosca and La bohéme;; Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Le nozze die Figaro; and Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.
During his tenure as the State Opera’s music director, Péter also led numerous concert performances. Of these, particularly worthy of mention were Verdi’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. In 2016 he was the conductor for Plácido Domingo’s gala concert, which was the great tenor’s first ever performance at the Hungarian State Opera.
Péter has also conducted gala concerts by such world-famous singers as Angela Gheorghiu, Vesselina Kassarova, Gregory Kunde, Piotr Beczala, and Feruccio Furlanetto.
In 2017 he was awarded the Golden Cross of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic.
Péter Halász was born in Budapest. After studying piano and composition in his native city, he went on to study conducting under Leopold Hager at Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Wien and the years he spent there still define his taste and musical aesthetic. He took master classes in Lucerne as a student of Bernard Haitink. He has been massively influenced by Ádám Fischer. Their work together began when Péter acted as assistant to the renowned conductor at the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt and their relationship has continued to the present day.
After completing his studies, Péter coached young singers as a member of the International Opera Studio at Opernhaus Zürich. Following this, he was engaged as a coach and conductor by Staatstheater Mainz, where he assembled a large repertoire of operas.
From 2011 Péter was the deputy music director of Theater Aachen and Sinfonieorchester Aachen. In his two seasons he conducted the premieres of Salvatore Sciarrino’s Superflumina, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, and Poulenc’s La voix humaine together with Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda. With the premieres in Aachen of Ariodante and Alcina, Péter initiated a Händel cycle played on period instruments. He additionally conducted performances of Bizet’s Carmen, Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, and Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, while Tristan und Isolde was significant as the first time he had conducted a Wagner opera.
In 2015 Péter was invited to join Staatsoper Hamburg, where he made his debut with Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. He also worked as a guest conductor at many other German opera houses and symphony orchestras such as – Baadisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Staatstheater Kassel, Saarlaendisches Staatstheater, Staatsorchester Nürnberg.
In 2016 Zoltán Kocsis personally invited Péter to conduct the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time. Péter has also frequently led concerts by many other leading Hungarian symphony orchestras.
In 2019 he worked as a guest Professor on the Peter Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation’s Master Course for Conductors at the invitation of Peter Eötvös himself.
In the 2019/20 season Péter conducted a new production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Theatre Bern in Switzerland and made successful debuts at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and at the Latvian National Theatre in Riga.
In the 2020/21 season he will assist and cover the complete Ring Cycle for Ádám Fischer at the Budapest Wagner Days. In October 2020 he will return to the Staatsoper Hamburg to conduct Mozart’s Don Giovanni. He will also revisit the Deutsche Oper am Rhein to lead performances of Mozart’s Zauberflöte and Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel. In February 2021 Péter will conduct a new production of Mozart’s Enführung aus dem Serail at the Hungarian State Opera, where he will also direct a revival of Strauss’s Die Frau ohne Schatten. Another highlight of the season will be an Operetta Gala with Piotr Beczala at the Budapest Summer Festival.