‘John the Valiant,’ a Hungarian operetta, heads to Kulas

October 30th, 2014

Kulas Auditorium will welcome the Hungarian Equestrian Theatre of Komarom, Hungary to John Carroll University on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. The touring group will perform the 1903 operetta “John the Valiant.”


The operetta is based on the epic poem written in 1845 by Sandor Petofi, a Hungarian poet. The poem was redone 50 years later and adapted into an operetta in 1903 by Pongracz Kacsoh.


Unlike an opera, the operetta will include both dialogue and song with a slightly lighter and less serious cultural topic.


Sung and spoken completely in Hungarian, the operetta will provide supertitles projected above the screen in English, allowing audiences to follow along with the story.


The Hungarian Equestrian Theatre, located on the border between Slovakia and northern Hungary, is an open-air theater. Dancers, singers and over 40 horses perform in historical performances, rock operas, operettas and musicals.



While the theater company performs in its open-air theater during the warmer months of the year, the colder months are spent touring throughout Europe, Canada and the United States.



Before coming to Cleveland, the theater company will visit Connecticut, Washington D.C. and areas throughout Florida. Two weeks before coming to JCU, the tour performed at the Ben Franklin Theatre in Norwalk, Connecticut starting Thursday, Oct. 20. However, the tour will have a one-time performance in Cleveland on Saturday, Nov. 15.


Due to the inability to bring horses to the Kulas stage, projections of horses upon a screen will create a movie-like experience for the audience.


The production at JCU is directed by famous Hungarian singer Gyorgy Derzsi and features 15 Hungarian performers. While in Cleveland, the operetta will also feature the local Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble. As the tour travels to other cities, local dancers will perform in place of the non-touring ensemble.


The plotline of this operetta is set in the historical period in Europe where Johnny Corn, a shepherd boy, falls in love with a beautiful orphan girl named Iluska (Nellie in English).


Johnny longs to marry Nellie and free her from her wicked stepmother. In a change of events, the Hungarian Hussars (mercenary soldiers) arrive and Johnny decides to join them, aiding their efforts to assist the King of France in battle.


Together with the Hussars, Johnny travels through the fictionalized countries of Italy, Poland and India, featuring an entertaining display of singing and dancing.


Rewarded for his great efforts in battle, Johnny Corn is knighted as Sir John the Valiant by the King of France. The king then grants the new knight his daughter’s hand in marriage.


Will John the Valiant marry the king’s daughter or will he return home to his true love, Nellie?


Martha Pereszlenyi-Pinter, chairperson of the Classical and Modern Languages and Cultures Department, urges JCU students to attend the operetta.


“It’s a cheap date. It’s free for John Carroll University students and is a chance to see an operetta and experience theater that people of European background enjoy,” she said. “It is a cultural experience and a rare opportunity to see something beautiful.”


The production of “John the Valiant” at JCU is sponsored by Pongrátz Entertainent, the Hungarian Scout Folk Ensemble and multiple departments at JCU, including the CMLC department, English department, Tim Russert Department of Communications and Theatre Arts, Modern European Studies, JCU Center for Global Education and WJCU Bocskai Radio show.


Admission is free for JCU students, faculty and staff. Tickets must be picked up in advance from the administrative assistants of the sponsoring JCU departments.


General admission tickets will cost $20 for adults, $10 for students and children are free. Tickets will be $25 at the door. Ticket purchases can be done online at or by calling (216) 202-0486.