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Divas and Icons Exhibition at the Hungarian House of Music

09 April 2024

Alongside Rihanna, Cher, Tina Turner, Edith Piaf, Marilyn Monroe, the Hungarian House of Music in Budapest will present the stories of Hungarian singers Éva Marton, Zséda, Magdi Rúzsa, Zsuzsa Koncz and other artists in an exhibition entitled ‘Divas and Icons’, starting on May 18.

    ‘Diva & Icons’ is an international traveling exhibition of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, the world's largest museum of applied arts and design. Hungary will be the first country the exhibition that has attracted almost 300,000 people to arrive in with a thematic section featuring world stars and stars of Hungarian music history, said the organizers on Tuesday.

    As they wrote, the joint curatorship of the Hungarian House of Music and the V&A will include Rihanna, Björk, Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Cher, Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, Ingrid Bergman, Billie Eilish and other celebrities, among others, as well as Hungarian ones like Katalin Karády, Zsuzsa Cserháti, Éva Marton, Zsuzsa Koncz, Magdi Rúzsa, Adrienn Zsédenyi (Zséda), Bori Péterfy and Deva.

    The international travelling exhibition, which showcases the extraordinary power, social role and creativity of divas, will close at its original London venue in April.

    "In developing the Hungarian narrative, we have sought to include influential artists who align with the original messages of the exhibition. This musical diversity will also be reflected in the Diva & Icons exhibition in Budapest," András Batta, executive director of the Hungarian House of Music, was quoted as saying in the statement.

    Kossuth Prize-winning opera singer Éva Marton donated the costume of Erzsébet Valois in Verdi's opera Don Carlos to the Hungarian House of Music, and also donated the complete soundtrack of her career to the institution's multimedia library, which will now be available to anyone to listen to free of charge. Excerpts from recordings of the world-famous opera singer's performances will also be on display in the Diva & Icons exhibition.

   The London exhibition is the first of its kind to tell the story of the iconic performers who made their voices heard from the 19th century to the present day. The first part sets the creation of the diva in a historical context, the ladies who have shaped the popular culture of our time. The second act celebrates the revolutionary performers who, through their art, their voices and their identities, have changed and evolved society.

    The exhibition will feature hundreds of objects from the museum's own collection and pieces borrowed from around the world, spanning design, costume, fashion, photography, music and film.

    Visitors can learn about the story of Ingrid Bergman through the dress she wore in the film about Joan of Arc, as well as the drama of the lives of Sarah Bernhardt, Josephine Baker, Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and many other world-famous performers. Several costumes are on show for the first time, such as Maria Callas' stage costume as Norma from 1952, Marilyn Monroe's fringed black dress from the film The One Who Loves It Hot (1959), but iconic sets designed by celebrity fashion designer Bob Mackie are also featured. Dresses worn by Tina Turner, P!nk and Cher are on display, while Billie Eilish, Rihanna, Adele, Björk and Whitney Houston have all lent their outfits to the exhibition.

    The exhibition, entitled Divas & Icons, will be on display in the 800-square-meter temporary space of the Hungarian House of Music, and was conceptualized by V&A curator Kate Bailey. The exhibition will be open to the Hungarian public from May 18 to September 15.

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