Bank Ban | Chicago Reader

Bank Ban

Adapted from a censored play about a 13th-century revolt, Ferenc Erkel's Hungarian opera Bank Ban (1861) epitomizes the national style. While the king is away at war, his foreign-born queen revels with courtiers, causing great resentment among the aristocracy, and a viceroy leads them in rebellion even as his own wife (Andrea Rost) is being seduced by the queen's brother. Director Csaba Kael shot most of this 2002 production in medieval castles, enhancing the opera's authenticity and the sharp interplay of light and shadow (courtesy of ace cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond). Erkel's folk-flavored music sounds a lot like middle-period Verdi, but many of the melodies are ravishing; the postdubbed singing varies in quality from grand soprano Eva Marton as the queen and sweet-voiced Andrea Rost as the wife to huffy tenor Attila Kiss as the viceroy. In Hungarian with subtitles. 118 min.

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