The history of the Theatre
Several national minorities lived in Pécs around the 1800s and in the19th century. Hungarian, German, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, Austrian, Czech, Moravian and Italian people lived here together in peace and harmony. They created a pidgin throughout the decades spent together. When the actors arrived, they brought the literary language (Standard German and Hungarian) into the 'Babel of Pécs'.
There have been regular theatrical performances here since 1786. Pécs was one of the most significant provincial centres of Hungarian theatrical culture. Comedians performed in big dance-halls, in aristocratic town-houses, in inns and cafés. 'The House to the Elephant' was a popular place but the touring companies also played on 'Tettye stage'.
City dwellers wanted a theatre with a repertory company, they dreamed of a place where they could regularly have artistic experiences and also meet friends.
The General Assembly of Pécs created a Theatrical Committee to indicate the building site of the theatre and they chose the actual 'Theatre Square' where a military hospital used to stand.
All the other important institutions, offices, public and private houses were built around this time, the present-day appearance of Pécs was created around 1840.
János Aidinger then mayor was elected to be the chairman of the Theatrical Committee, who submitted the county surtax to the vote to cover the expenses of the theatre.
In May 1890 the Committee announced a national design competition that was won by the world famous designers, Adolf Lang and Antal Steinhardt. They got down to building the theatre straight away together with the famous Felmer-Helmer partners and with 10,000 forints.
On the building you can find the statues of outstanding theatrical people of the time (Gergely Csiky, Ede Szigligeti, Károly Kisfaludy, Ferenc Erkel the composer) and there is a marvellous statue of the 'Genius' on the dome. The 'Genius' was designed by the sculptor György Kiss and created people from the Zsolnay Porcelain Factory.
The theatre was opened on 5th October 1895. The 'Pécs Journal' welcomed this fantastic event with a special issue, the people cheered in delight. Ferenc Erkel's Bánk bán the most famous Hungarian opera was put on stage on the occasion with great success.
The theatre had to be closed on 5th June 1986, because the building became life-threatening. The reconstruction finished in June 1991 and the building was totally renewed. There is a brand new revolving stage, a four-part sinking orchestra pit, new light, sound and video system and the theatre is air-conditioned. The National Theatre of Pécs meets the requirements of the modern times and wants to serve the viewers every night on a high level.