The Geiseloper / Hostage opera is chamber opera composed by Gryllus Samu and directed by Brina Stinehelfer. Using the relationship between the 1973 Balassagyarmat hostage drama and the social reactions of the time as a model, the performance presents the role of the community in the development of traumas and its power in their processing, partly in an interactive form and based on documents in its textbook.
In 1973, in a Hungarian industrial city called Balassagyarmat, two young men (17 and 19), the sons of the local secretary of the state-party, broke into the city’s girls’ dormitory and took hostage 20 girls. They demanded a bus to cross the border into Austria. They stayed there for five days without any food or drink before being taken down. The older brother was shot by three snipers with special bullets on the fifth day from outside the building. The younger brother was captured and sentenced to 15 years in prison, and his four friends, who had heard about their plans before they committed the crime were sentenced to four years each in prison. None of the girls
were injured physically except one, who broke her arm when she tried to escape by jumping out of the window of the dormitory on the second day. Afterwards, they were instructed not to publicly talk about the case. Csenge Hatala, a young writer, started collecting documents and conducting interviews with the victims forty years later.
This was the first hostage situation in the modern history of Hungary. The unqualified police and military force found themselves in a situation they had no experience of. In communist Hungary, serious crimes were not only awkward, but actually harmful to the Party and its leaders. The city authorities tried to hide the details and smother the case, but it triggered a huge wave of indignation in the city and throughout the country as a whole.
In some parts, the audience actively interacts with the performers. This phenomenon is not very much used in music-theatre. Geiseloper is an extraordinary mixture of modern musical and theatrical techniques with the traditional genre of chamber opera. It enables the audience to grasp a deeply human and tragic situation through music and theatrical interaction giving the spectators a very special emotional experience.
The performance lasts 100 minutes, the stage time is 5 days and 5 nights. The characters of the play are native speakers of Hungarian, English and German – all three languages appear in the performance.
The Geiseloper is a socially themed work created in international cooperation, applying both the contemporary theatrical and musical experience in an original way, and using the knowledge of the traditions of the genres and their current formulation.