The story of Saint Elizabeth of the House of Árpád will be told in the musical titled The Sky Holds the Earth – Elizabeth, the Saint of Love (Az Ég tartja a Földet – Erzsébet, a szerelem szentje), which will be performed on September 1st and 2nd at the Margaret Island open-air stage. Róbert Szikora, Sándor Lezsák, and Tünde Zsuffa’s highly successful play was directed by Péter Cseke, and the main roles in the spectacular performance will be played by famous Hungarians such as Adrien Szekeres, Béla Szerednyey, and Szilveszter P. Szabó, writes Magyar Nemzet.
According to Teodóra Bán, Managing Director and Artistic Director of the Margaret Island Theater, it is important to produce Hungarian works of great scope such as the musical The Sky Holds the Earth, as audiences are eager for truly valuable and entertaining performances. Moreover, the musical genre is the right form for today’s needs and tastes to present a significant episode in our history.
In the production, we follow Elizabeth as she becomes a strong woman and a mother, ready to take action. Her deep faith poured forth as love in action: she founded a shelter for orphaned children, and a hospital for the sick. Even the intrigues of the royal court, the intrigues of her mother-in-law, the enforced absence of her beloved husband, poverty, devastating epidemics, persecution, and ostracism could not break her.
Elizabeth of Hungary (Árpád-házi Szent Erzsébet, 1207 – 1231) was a princess of the Kingdom of Hungary and the landgravine of Thuringia in Germany. She was married at the age of 14, and widowed at 20. After her husband’s death, she regained her dowry, using the money to build a hospital where she herself served the sick. She became a symbol of Christian charity after her death at the age of 24 and was canonized on May 25, 1235. She is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church. She was an early member of the Third Order of St. Francis, and is today honored as its patroness.
Péter Cseke, director of the play, told Magyar Nemzet earlier that
Saint Elizabeth lived eight hundred years ago, but her story is still an example for all of us, as she helped others throughout her life.
In the novel written by Tünde Zsuffa and in the musical based on the novel, the close and loving familial relationship between Elizabeth and her brother King Béla IV of Hungary, as well as their mother, Gertrude of Merania, is a major focus.
Zsuffa’s aim was to portray Elizabeth as a Hungarian saint who became the embodiment of the feminine ideal, showing that true love is unconditional and enduring even in the harshest of circumstances.
Elizabeth is a saint because she lived as her conscience dictated. Her love for people and her faith were manifested in her actions. Furthermore, despite the fact that she had to leave her native land as the crown demanded, her heart always yearned to return home.
The aim of the creative team of the musical was, in addition to emphasizing the values of Christianity and the Hungarian historical past, to discover and raise the profile of the most famous saint in Hungary, who became the protector of the poor and the sick.
Elizabeth of Hungary, from the House of Árpád. Photo: Simone Martini/Wikimedia Commons
Zsuffa told Magyar Nemzet earlier that she wanted to give an authentic portrait of the 13th century, while also offering an authentic portrait of Elizabeth in a style that would be accessible to the public. Thus, Saint Elizabeth of the House of Árpád is presented in the musical in her simplicity, and her life is a good example of how faith and love should not only be spoken about, but lived.
The open-air premiere of the musical features great songs and orchestrations, stunning visuals, an uplifting story, and a superb cast on a stage surrounded by the foliage of Margaret Island.