László Polgár

Somogyszentpál, 1 January 1947 – Zürich, 19 September 2010
Polgár László (Fotó: Zeneakadémia képgyűjteménye, Felvégi Andrea fotó)
Polgár László
(Fotó: Zeneakadémia
képgyűjteménye,
Felvégi Andrea fotó)
László Polgár completed his studies with Éva Kurucz at the Music Academy in 1972, and from that year onwards was a member of the Hungarian Opera House. Between 1978 and 1981 he taught a main subject in the vocal studies department of the Academy.
 
Polgár won various international singing competitions between 1971 and 1981. In 1971 he won the Dvorák competition in Karlovy Vary, in 1974 the Schumann competition in Zwickau, in 1975 the international competition held in s'Hertogenbosch, also in 1975 the Budapest Erkel Singing Competition, in 1980 the Wolf competition in Vienna, and in 1981 the Pavarotti competition in Philadelphia.
 
His international career began in Hamburg, with Mozart's opera, The Abduction from the Seraglio, in which he sang Osmin. His entire career was characterised by the great bass roles. Of Mozart's characters, he most often appeared as Sarastro in the Magic Flute, which he sang in Paris under the baton of Rozhdestvenskiy, in Salzburg Levine, and in the Drottningholm Opera Oestmann. In Titus he sang Publio, in Salzburg conducted by Ricardo Muti, and in Vienna by Cambreling. In Don Giovanni he sang Leporello, in Paris with Barenboim and in Nizza with Oestmann.
 
Of the masters of the bel canto, he was Rodolfo in La Sonnanbula in London's Covent Garden, as well as in Madrid and Catania; in Brussels he sang Lorenzo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, in Brussels he sang Don Basilio in Rossini's The Barber of Seville. Of Verdi's operas, he appeared as Count Walter in Luisa Miller in Brussels (with Camberling), as King Philip in Don Carlos in Bordeaux (with Plasson), as the King in Aida in Paris (again with Plasson). He sang Padre Guardiano in the Force of Destiny in various opera houses. In Puccini's La Boheme he sang Colline (in Philadelphia), and in Turandot Timur (in Paris).
 
One of László Polgár's greatest roles was the title role in Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, which he sang in Chicago, Athens, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Paris, London, Lille, Dresden, and in the Milano Scala, with such partners as Agnes Baltsa, Jessy Norman, Éva Marton and Júlia Várady. The conductors included Boulez and Georg Solti.
 
After 1986 he sang regularly in Münnich and Zürich. In 1991 he became a member of the Zürich Opera House; from 1995 he taught singing at the Wintertour Conservatory.
 
He sang on the Harnoncourt CD recording of Fidelio, made in Graz.
 
He first appeared in the Budapest Opera House in 1971 as Sparafucile in Rigoletto and became the Opera's soloist in 1973. Over a twenty-five year period the Hungarian audience heard him as Osmin, Sarastro, Leporello, Don Basilio, King Philip, Father Guardiano, as Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra, Sparafucile in Rigoletto. We saw him as Colline, Bluebeard, and every year on Good Friday as Gurnemanz in Wagner's Parsifal.
 
Polgár regularly sang songs and oratorios; Hungaroton discs preserve his voice in Bach cantatas and Schubert songs.
 
He was a permanent member of the Opera House, and received the highest Hungarian awards: the Melis Prize, the Liszt Prize, the Kossuth Prize, and the title, Meritorious Artist.
 
A. T.

 

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