Ilona Tokody

April 27, 1953. Szeged
Tokody Ilona (Fotó: Zeneakadémia képgyűjteménye)
Tokody Ilona
(Fotó: Zeneakadémia
According to her own confession, her life started fortunately as she was born into a ‘lateiner' family; her father and mother were high school teachers, her father played the violin her mother had a nice soprano voice her grandmother had good, deep voice although she did not sing... The child also had to be cultured in all genres at such a family. First in fine art, she won a national drawing competition for children at her early childhood. Reading has been accompanying her life: both Classical poetry and contemporary prose. Although music has been at the first place up to now, from her age of seven, with Italian songs.
She started her voice studies at Szeged with Valéria Berdál. She was a student of Dr. Jenő Sipos at the Academy of Music between 1970 and 1976 where she earned voice artist teacher and opera singer degrees. She won the Kodály Singing Competition of the Hungarian Television with absolute score and received invitation from János Ferencsik to sing in Kodály's Budavári Te Deum as a partner of József Simándy and Erzsébet Komlóssy. She performed act two of Bánk Bán (the role of Melinda) again with József Simándy at the Iseum in Szombathely. She was the female winner of the song category at the Erkel Singing Competition in 1975. She performed act two from Madam Butterfly at her last opera exam in 1976, where her partner was her ill-fated friend, Katalin Seregélly.
She measures and selects with strict self-criticism: when and what she is capable of, when it worth taking risks, where is the point when taking a risk is gambling and must not be undertaken...
She has been a member of the Hungarian State Opera since 1976. Her specially colored soprano makes her suitable primarily for performing roles of Italian operas but she makes credent Fiordiligi from Mozart's Cosí Fan Tutte as well as female characters of Hungarian operas of our century – Mózes by Zsolt Durkó, Az ajtón kívül [Out of the Door] by Sándor Balassa or Bűn és bűnhődés [Crime and Punishment] by Emil Petrovics – through her artistic versatility. The State Opera prepared the premieres of these works with special care regarding the music and the singers. The leading singers of the Opera performed memorably the large-scale, musically and mentally demanding main roles of heroic operas; among whom Ilona Tokody's interpretations of works of Durkó and Balassa were especially acclaimed.
Besides her activity in domestic musical life Ilona Tokody has been a valued guest of international opera stages for many years. She sang almost everywhere in the world: in Prague, Hamburg, Moscow, Munich, Liége, Barcelona, Las Palmas, New York at the Metropolitan, at the Staatsoper, Vienna (with Claudio Abbado), at the Covent Garden, London (with José Carreras and Placido Domingo), at the Liceo Barcelona, at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin (with Giuseppe Sinopoli), at the Staatsoper Berlin, at the Teatro Real and Teatro Zarzuela in Madrid and with Luciano Pavarotti in Buenos Aires, at the Teatro Colon. The main roles of André Chenier, La Juive, Don Carlos, La forza del destino, Suor Angelica, La boheme, Gianni Schicchi brought success and have special place in her wide repertory.
We may get closely acquainted with her artistry by her recordings published in Hungary (the recordings of Suor Angelica and a selection of soprano arias by Verdi and Puccini), as she is able to shape characters exclusively by musical means. The figure of Angelica spans from the neutral tone to the glowing passionate. Her voice is bright and pithy but changes for deeper and more massive when necessary.
Besides operatic roles she also gave solo recitals from New York through Tokyo to Berlin; she sang before a public of twenty thousand people in huge arenas and performed the A csitári hegyek alatt [From the Distant Mountains] folksong arrangement by Kodály in honor of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair at the Westminster cathedral in London.
T. A.


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