I am delighted to be serving for the second time as the principal patron of the premier annual social event of the Hungarian State Opera's season, which for 2017 has received the name the Háry Gala. These days, when probably everyone has felt the crisis that is afflicting Europe – which is a kind of identity crisis – it is important that we both embrace and build our national identity. This is just as much a component of a European identity as a local or regional one is. But this can also be expressed in reverse: the European identity supplements and enhances the ones that already exist.
The European community is built on local communities, which in turn are bound together by their inhabitants' awareness of their own identity. We must base the future of the European region on these communities, since this is the only way we will find a way out of the crisis.
The musical genius of Ferenc Liszt, Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók represents the strongest of those bonds that build a national identity while at the same time further strengthening the European one.
It is precisely this bond that the Opera is putting on display with its 2016/17 season – its “Hungarian” Season – since it puts more emphasis than ever before on Hungarian opera performance and our artistic treasures and creators.
I hope that on 25 February 2017, as many people as possible will take part in the “adventures” of Háry János, and that we will be able to help with the social gathering's aim of purchasing an ambulance.
I wish everyone a pleasant evening!
Dr. Tibor Navracsics
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport