The Hungary-Israel cultural season kicks off next month (March 11), with a new show of the Budapest state opera, Operetta Gala. Marking Israel’s 70th birthday and celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Hungary this year, there will be 20 different productions with over 1000 guest artists that will take place during the events.The Hungarian rich cultural life is well-known and liked in Israel. The Hungarian culinary heritage is an integral part of this country’s eclectic cuisine, the Hungarian cinema is presented here in festivals and the Hungarian theater – especially the Budapest Operetta, is a regular visitor to our shores, as is the Recirquel Hungarian circus which received raving reviews on their past visits to Israel.Assembling of the program took many months, with a focus on creating a program that represents both the rich heritage and traditions of Hungary as well as the new, contemporary artistic representations of what is happening in Hungary today.Beginning in March and until the end of October, there will be a host of cultural events taking place across the country – from the Operetta Theater, to Recirquel circus, the Gyor Ballet, Klezmer musical, Hungarian cinema at the cinematheques, contemporary Hungarian art at the Fresh Paint art event, Gypsy music ensemble, concerts of the best young Hungarian musicians, the National Opera and Hungarian National Theater and dance ensembles, Hungarian food festival and even a pop-up of the famous Ruin Bar from Budapest which will be re-created in Jaffa, including DJ’s, pop ensembles, art shows and more. Opening the cultural season with a bang, the Budapest state opera present Operetta Gala, a colorful selection of the greatest opera hits of all time, in an unforgettable evening. Performing at the Jerusalem Theater on March 11 and at the Tel Aviv Opera House on March 13-14, the Operetta Gala performance offers viewers a chance to be swept away by the essence of the Hungarian experience, performed by the greatest opera stars of our day. This is a chance to enjoy the most famous melodies of Franz Lehar, Imre Kalman as well as Johann Strauss and Jacques Offenbach. This time, the virtuoso soloists will be joined by the Budapest State Opera orchestra, who will play live on stage, and will be joined by the dancers of the Hungarian National Dance Company, who will perform together with a Gypsy-Klezmer band in this sweeping performance, featuring the famous Hungarian dances.In their previous visits to our shores, the Budapest state opera swept the Israeli audience with performances of The Bayadere, Countess Maritza, The Fledermaus and The Csardas Princess. This time they bring hits from all of the above as well as dance pieces from the can-can to the polka, waltzes and more. In an evening created especially for their visit to Israel, the 80 members of the theater will be joined by the folklore dancers of the Hungarian National Dance Company who elevate the experience with their kicking and swirling, gorgeous and colorful costumes, to the live sounds of the Gypsy band.THE BUDAPEST STATE OPERA, established in 1923, is currently the most successful home of the genre. They attract large audiences, adding new and contemporary artistic ideas to classical performances, as well as to American musicals, including My Fair Lady, Beauty and the Beast, Miss Saigon, Cabaret and others to their repertoire. Their stars can do anything – they sing like opera soloists, dance like professionals and can act – a few of them regularly perform as actors in plays, others sing in the opera – but they all confess that the operetta is their first love.Indeed most of the performers graduated from Budapest state opera school, before joining the theater.Coming back to Israel for the fifth time, they note that Israel is like a second home to them. They say they love the Israeli audience, and especially appreciate the weather and food. Touring the world is an important part of the theater’s tradition, and apart from regular performances around Europe, they have also visited the USA, Canada, Oman and the Far East. The Hungarian culinary week will take place from April 7-12, offering numerous events in which Hungarian contemporary chefs and bakers will join local chefs in restaurants across the country, cooking and holding workshops, accompanied by exhibitions, movies and talks about their rich culinary heritage.Going through a revolution of sorts, the Hungarian cuisine is being transformed by young chefs who create new and innovative cuisine, that pays its dues to traditions yet is more attuned to new trends. Besides for the old establishments, the new places in Budapest have placed it on the map for foodies around the globe, and Israeli enthusiasts will have a chance to sample it next month.THE HUNGARIAN FILM FESTIVAL will follow from May 12-19, presenting new films as well as masterpieces, talks and master-classes with visiting directors, at the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa cinematheques.The Fresh Paint festival will offer a focus on Hungarian contemporary art (May 30 - June 2), a collaboration with the famous Budapest Art Market; the Gyor Ballet – one of the most important contemporary ballet companies in Hungary will perform Bolero at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center (June 1-3); the Hungarian State Theater will be a guest of the Jaffa International Festival (June 20).Later in June, Israelis can experience the unique Budapest Ruin Bar in Jaffa. The Ruin Bars are a unique Budapest phenomenon that has been attracting tourists from around the globe. They are makeshift bars located inside dilapidated pre-war buildings, furnished with quirky furniture assembled from clearance sales, all in all exuding and inexplicably cool atmosphere. Szimpla Kert, Budapest’s iconic ruin bar located at the old Jewish Quarter in Budapest, is home to contemporary art and looks like a cross between a vintage store, art gallery, bar and discotheque. Filled with local as well as with international crowds, there are daily performances and visiting DJ’s leaving a constant line outside the doors. Between June 13-30, the Ken Hakukiya Bar in Jaffa will be transformed into a Ruin Bar, and offer works by Hungarian and local artists, DJ’s and bands. There will be performances, talks, exhibitions and live broadcasts from these bars.The summer will continue with the Recirquel circus (July 19-23), who return to Herzliya with a performance of The Naked Clown; the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble who will perform in Karmiel (August 2-4); the National Opera House that will come to the Tel Aviv Opera in September, performing Queen of Sheba by Carl Goldmark; and the first-ever Klezmer musical The Wedding Dance will be performed from September 12-13.Wrapping up the events in the fall, the Tel Aviv Port will offer a gastronomic-cultural street fair during Sukkot (October 16-18). Hangar 11 at the port will host “Around Us,” a design exhibition (October 10-26), and a Gala concert presenting the stars of the Hungarian classical music world, will be held in Jerusalem on October 23.The Hungarian Cultural Season is organized in Israel by Jonathan Carmi together with the Hungarian Embassy in Israel.