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, Wagner, and Richard Strauss. At the same time, he frequently conducts the Italian repertoire as well as contemporary music and Baroque pieces on period instruments.
In 2021 Péter Halász was appointed permanent conductor (Kapellmeister) at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein. Next projects in this opera house include the titles of Adriana Lecouvreur, Elisir, d’amore, die Jungfrau von Orleans and die Lustige Witwe as well as Ariadne auf Naxos at Staatsoper Budapest. During the 21/22 season he has conducted Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, Donizetti’s L’elisier d’amore, and a double bill of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci in Düsseldorf and Duisburg. He will also conduct the New Year Eve’s concert of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and premiere a new production with the Ballet am Rhein. In the course of the season Péter will also revisit the Hamburg State Opera, where he will conduct two major works by Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Don Giovanni. In October 2021, he will return to the Latvian State Opera in Riga to lead a new production of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. He will also be responsible for two premieres at the Hungarian State Opera in Budapest: a project on Bach’s Sacred Cantatas and Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail.
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 has collected a big 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 – Baadisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Staatstheater Kassel, Saarlaendisches Staatstheater, Staatsorchester Nürnberg etc. 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 at the Peter Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation’s Master Course for Conductors at the invitation of Peter Eötvös himself.
In the Season 2019/20 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.
Adriana Lecouvreur Deutsche Oper am Rhein 2022
Die Duisburger Philharmoniker unter der Leitung von Péter Halászbeherrschen sowohl die Intensität der tiefen, großen Opern-Momente (unglaublich im 4. Akt) als auch die leichte, beschwingte Musical-Färbung im 3. Akt. Sehr duftig und klangfarbig heute besonders viele Piano-Stellen.
“Die Duisburger Philharmoniker spielen unter der musikalischen Leitung von Péter Halász mit großem Gespür für die Italianatà Cileas und die verzwickte, manchmal unorganisch wirkende Partitur.“
May 2017 Christophe Rizoud | Forumopera
«The musical direction of Péter Halász knows how to accord the same importance to the words, which are so essential in this founding prologue, as to the notes without neglecting the symphonic occasions slipped in here and there by Wagner to move the orchestra forward. From the meaningful E flat major at the beginning until the monumental Walhalla music at the end, the orchestral pâté is eloquent and dense without being cloying, the flawless Badische Staatskapelle always appropriates the narration.»
March 2017 Jörn Florian Fuchs | Deuschlandradio Kultur
«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.»