The critic of Pesther Tageblatt stated that after Mária’s Romanza (No. 4) in the first act the banda (i.e. the stage band of wind instruments) played a march preceding the Duetto (No. 6) directly “The arrival of the prince was announced by a march which, performed by the banda alone, did not produce the effect that a full orchestral participance would have achieved. – A banda in itself does not make a good impression in a confined space, and as all wind music it is more effective in open air. The subsequent duet is simple and impressive.”39 If this piece of information is genuine one must accept that Coro (No. 5) in its present, known and final form employing chorus, full orchestra and the banda was not presented at the première (and probably at later performances either). Instead, the banda played a march which must have been an early variant of the Coro instrumented for the banda. The critic’s description is supported by the evidence of the autograph score (AU) and reinforced by the promptbook which was probably used at the première (SK1); both confirm that Erkel had in fact planned to include a chorus at this place. Although the words were published in the libretto printed for the première (L1), he did not finish the instrumentation in time. An entry in pencil can be read at the top of the relevant page in the above mentioned promptbook: “Kórus. Banda” [Choir. Banda]. However, the place for the text of the chorus remained blank. In the autograph manuscript Erkel completed the Maestoso passage after the Romanza (see critical notes), he also notated the beginning of Coro (No. 5) in D major with an indication as to the scoring for full orchestra. Nevertheless, the number itself remained incomplete; Erkel wrote the chorus parts to the end in D major, but broke off the two staves of the guida for the banda after fourteen bars, and left the lines of the orchestral parts blank. He later filled out the orchestral parts in C major, the predominant key of the section, and added the choral parts for the C major version at a blank space in the score (see facsimile 3).
The drastic change of key has to do with the fact that Erkel inserted a Cabaletta for Mária between the Romanza and the Maestoso. The new number survives in the autograph manuscript on unnumbered pages added later. The copyist of SK1 inserted the text for the new item into the space left blank for the text of the chorus. The insertion of the Cabaletta made the shortening and the transposition of the Maestoso necessary, and the original key of the Coro, D major, also had to be altered. The full orchestration of the chorus was carried out with regard to the already existing Cabaletta.40
The earliest datable Einlage proper, István’s aria accompanied by the men’s choir, was added to the first act (No. 1 Aria con Coro). Erkel wrote it for Zsigmond Joób who took on the role and first sang it on 29 January, 1841. Mátray’s only remark about the new piece in Honművész was that it was “less effective than difficult”.41 The extremely high tessitura of the tenor part of Bátori Mária (and for that matter, of Erkel’s later operas as well) was criticised constantly throughout the stage history of the piece. It probably resulted from the Italian and French singing technique called falsettone, that had already begun to decline on the international stage in the 1830s.
From Mátray’s review we also learn that Mária’s role was originally intended for Mme. Schodel, the primadonna assoluta of the 1840s in the National Theatre: “as a matter of fact, today’s extremely difficult role was written by the composer for Mme. Schodel and measured to her talent...”. Mátray’s information is supported by another review according to which the “young and charming Mária Felber had learnt the title role of Bátori Mária within an extremely short period of time” for the première.42 One can safely assume that the resignation of Mme. Schodel was the result of the opera war offended by the continuous attacks against her, she left Pest in the summer of 1840 for an extended tour in Austria. After Mária Felber had left in 1841,43 the theatre tried to fill the title role with the beginner Paulina Lang and the internationally known Henriette Carl, former prima donna of the German Theatre.44 In September 1843 Endre Bartay, the new director of the National Theatre, announced that a long-term agreement could be reached with Mme. Schodel.45 Consequently, Mme. Schodel appeared three times on the stage of the National Theatre as Mária (on 15 and 20 December, 1843 and 11 February, 1845) and she also performed in May 1844 in Pozsony (now Bratislava, Slovakia). Although none of the Einlagen are associated with her person directly in contemporary sources, one cannot rule out the fact that the Cabaletta after the Romanza was written for the festive occasion of her appearance.
After Mme. Schodel, Mária’s role was sung almost exclusively by Kornélia Hollósy (1827–1890), the other leading Hungarian prima donna of the time. Newspaper reports were enthusiastic about her coloratura all the time. The only mark her appearances in the title role left on the work was the cadenza for the Cabaletta (No. 4) with the accompaniment of a flute. With the exception of the vocal part that has been lost, the cadenza could be reconstructed from the contemporary performing material of the orchestra (see facsimile 9 and the critical notes).46
The only interruption in Hollósy’s success series came with four guest performances by Luise Liebhart in 1852 (the one on 5 July was attended by the Emperor Franz Joseph). Both the play-bill made for Liebhart’s guest performances and the press reports attest that Erkel composed a new aria in the second act for the guest singer from Vienna.47 No traces of the piece could be found so far; in any case, the assumption in the literature that it must be identical with one of the known arias cannot be substantiated. For such hypothesis, two numbers in the second act could be taken into consideration the Cabaletta in G major (No. 8), and the aria in the second Finale (No. 14) in which Mária joyfully expresses her gratitude over her supposed escape. The latter is very unlikely to have been an insertion because it forms part of the first layer of the autograph manuscript and fits into it without interruption. By contrast, Cabaletta (No. 8) seems to be a later insertion the autograph manuscriptconfirms that the Recitativo, terzetto e coro (No. 9) was to follow the G minor aria (No. 8) directly. However, Erkel must have decided to insert the Cabaletta at a very early stage because its text was included in the promptbook (SK1) dating from before 1841 and having probably been in use since the première. Nevertheless, in this textual source, heretofore unknown in Erkel research, one finds a loose leaf stitched in after No. 8 which contains the words of a single stanza, sufficient to serve as the text for a coloratura aria.48 The way such Einlagen were usually treated explains how the music of the aria (called “Hungarian song” in a review) may have got lost. In the case of a new Duetto (see Appendix II) and two dances (see Appendix IV, V), to be discussed in greater detail later, the parts for the additional numbers were copied and kept separately from the bulk of the performing material. This way they could easily be detached from the corpus of the work and set out on their own path of transmission, leading to unknown places. As for the lost aria, it is possible that this was the very piece that some articles in Koszorú and Magyar Sajtó report on. According to the articles the famous singer Anna Carina, who later moved to Pest, sang an excerpt from Bátori Mária in Vienna on 28 February, 1864, a “grand aria” with orchestral accompaniment in Pest at a “Recitation, Song and Music Academy” organised by the National Theatre on 23 December the same year, and also an “aria” with orchestra on 26 March, 1865 in Pest.49 In view of the comparatively short time that elapsed between the performances it can be supposed that she sang the same piece. If she had sung an aria with orchestral accompaniment in Vienna as well, she obviously needed the instrumental parts which must have been easy to transport and therefore could not belong with the corpus of the whole opera. As regards the transportability of the parts, two of Mária’s arias come into question both the Romanza (No. 4) and the Aria at the beginning of the second act (No. 8) survived in contemporary parts separately from the work, transposed lower. As for the performability of the Romanza, one should bear in mind that it also employed a choir. On the other hand, the performing material for the G minor/G major Aria has been handed down with extremely deficient parts on loose, separate leaves, a deficiency that must have made its use at a concert difficult. If the dishevelled state of the material does not point exactly to its being lent to Vienna, it might be assumed that the press recorded concert performances of the lost aria. There were no traces of the insertion of a new number in the 1858 promptbook (SK2) or in the libretto (L2) printed the same year, which suggests that after Louise Liebhart’s departure Erkel did not consider the aria an organic part of the opera.
That year the National Theatre was preparing to revive Bátori Mária. This choice is rather surprising because Erkel’s second opera Hunyadi László had been performed continuously since 1844 and at the time of the revival he was busy working on Bánk bán, which would be premièred in 1861, some months after the last performance of Bátori Mária, and would prove to be the second opera destined to unbroken success in his oeuvre apart from Hunyadi László. Nevertheless, both the composer and the theatre made preparations for the revival with unmitigated ambition. The play-bill and the press mutually stressed the fact that a new production with “new cast, new items of music and songs, new scenery and new dances” would be presented.50 Having a new promptbook copied and a new libretto printed obviously suggests that this time the composer did not content himself with incidental changes but intended to modify the canonised form of the work. The play-bill does not help to clarify what these purported modifications implied. Although the press occasionally made a hint at the novelties in the score,51 the critics were unable to identify their exact nature in a piece that had rarely been performed in the previous decades, and not at all in the preceding six years. Yet, most critiques mention the “nicely conceived duet” by Mária and István as “one of the highlights of the opera”, which was “one of the most difficult pieces to sing” at the same time.52 This characterisation does not correspond to the original Duetto (No. 6) in A major in the first act that was subject to criticism as early as the time of the première. Erkel himself must have been dissatisfied with the Duetto which is proven by the fact that all musical and textual sources witness severe cuts: the composer started to cut the duet very early and the cuts affected increasingly long sections. (In one version only the first forty-one bars of the whole duet seem to have been retained.53)
Finally, Erkel found a radical solution, he put the duet aside altogether. Erkel research had not been completely unaware of this situation since the text for a new duet prepared for the 1858 revival was available in both sources (SK2, L2). Since no new duet could be found in the autograph score, its music was declared lost.54 However, during the work on the present edition a completely unknown Duetto (Appendix II) was discovered inserted on separate pages into the performing material of the opera from where it could be partially reconstructed. There is no doubt that it was the very duet that the critics were so enthusiastic about. In the first version of Bátori Mária the Hungarian elements were not able to support an autonomous musical construction of such complexity as Mária and István’s new duet. Experience in the compositional process of Hunyadi László and Bánk bán was needed to enable Erkel to perform the task. The stylistic similarity of the latter opera to the duet cannot be overlooked. (The reason the duet is published in Appendix II of the present edition is that Mária’s part has not been discovered; emendations are, however, suggested.)
As in the case of the duet, Erkel took the advice of his former critics when it came to transforming the second finale (No. 14). He must have cut the mourning duet of István and Miklós and the closing chorus at an early stage, affected obviously by the reviews claiming unanimously that the finale was long-winded. Then he added two pages of music that -- attached to the autograph score -- bear evidence of his recognition that the dramatic conciseness and the conceptual openness of the ending of the opera are lost if the vow of vengeance is set into the traditional framework of a closed number. Instead, in the new version, the men’s choir recites the magic words of the vow almost in prose above the passacaglia motive played menacingly by the brass. While this second version concentrates on the motive of revenge instead of bereavement, the third version of the finale exposes an additional lyrical motive. The vow of revenge is retained but before it is uttered, Erkel brings Mária back to life to allow her to take leave of her lover, the father of her children. With a melancholic citation of the Cabaletta from the first act (No. 4), she sorrowfully recalls the sounds of their foregone happy union. This version, which is Erkel’s last contribution to the Finale, was copied on small-sized note paper and attached carefully to all performing parts, although not to the score.
Apart from the duet, music for three additional, so far unknown, insertions emerged in the course of the work on the present edition: three Hungarian dances instrumented for full orchestra (see Appendix IV–VI). There is no explicit data about their composer.55 One of them was inserted before the Duetto (No. 6) in the performing material of the orchestra. In most orchestral parts there is a reference to the insertion of a dance at this place and the play-bills also call one’s attention to a newly introduced dance in the first act. (One should remember that the first Finale in the autograph manuscript contains a pair of dances inscribed “Hungarian allegoric dance”). The other dances survived separately from the performing material of the opera. These dances must have served as music for the various stage dances interpolated in the opera as indicated on the play-bills during the twenty years of its existence on stage.56 The play-bills of the very first performances put the name of the coach and director of the “dance and tableaux that would occur” on-stage on the list of participants. In 1846–1847 “a great Hungarian pas de deux” was announced on the play-bills of four performances. The demand for authentic national dances greatly increased after the mid-1840s which explains why the name of Samu Tóth, a Hungarian dance specialist, figures on play-bills from 1848 onwards so often. His appearance at the National Theatre coincides with the departure of János Kolosánszky, whose pseudo-Hungarian choreographies induced much aversion, and with the engagement of choreographer Frigyes Campilli. On 26 August, 1848 Samu Tóth and his partners danced a “Hungarian pas de trois” and his appearances in 1858–1860 included a “Hungarian dance” in addition to the invariably present “tableaux and dance ensembles”. It is obvious that at the 1858 revival, the new dances and the new duet were intended to establish the predominance of the Hungarian element over the Italian, French and German influence. In short, they were meant to transform the last performances of the work into a Hungarian opera, in a different sense than that of the 1840 version.
Rather surprisingly, the play-bills indicate that at the last series from 9 March, 1858 onwards Bátori Mária was performed in three acts. This may have resulted primarily from the increased proportion of dances in the performance. Sporadic notes in the orchestral parts indicate that the second act of the three act version began with No. 6 or No. 7 and the third with Mária’s G minor/G major Aria e Cabaletta (No. 8). The chorus opening the original second act was excluded from all sources to meet the requirements worded in one of the critiques of the première. It is possible that the entry found in one of the dance insertions, which directs the player to follow the dance with the B major dance (Lassú tánc [Slow Dance]) of the first finale, is related to the 1858 revival of the opera. (The other dance insertions do not contain any notes that would indicate where they should be placed.) Since the entry at the end of the Duetto (“end of Act One”) is likely to be related to the three act adaptation, the newly created second act seems to have been formed by the extension of the first finale into a dance tableau. The divertissement could not be incorporated into the second act for dramaturgical reasons, therefore, the creators of the 1858 adaptation found an appropriate place for it in the original first finale. One is probably not mistaken to suppose that in addition to the increasing importance of the Hungarian element in both singing and dance, the last revival of Bátori Mária also sought a way to renew the interest of the modern audience in the slightly antiquated work by increasing the proportion of elements of high decorativeness.
Contrary to Erkel’s two consecutive operas which have been present on the Hungarian opera stage uninterruptedly since their premières, the performing of Bátori Mária was restricted to the period between 1840 and 1860. During these twenty years the piece was performed thirty-five times on the stage of the National Theatre (on three occasions only partially)57. In May 1844 the company staged the opera at the Diet of Pozsony along with Hunyadi and a népszínmű (Volksstück) entitled Két pisztoly [Two Pistols] by Erkel and Szigligeti. On 25 April, 1846 excerpts of the opera were performed in Kolozsvár, as well.58 On concert performances the overture was often coupled with the “Introduction” which consisted of the first three numbers of the opera.59