Local Opera House Iasi
Prior to 1956, as in the other countries in the Central and Eastern Europe, the opera genre also entered in Romania and implicitly in Iaşi, along with the itinerant foreign troops, particularly the Italian, French and German troops. The written documents attest the visit of these troops in Bucharest since 1821. In Iaşi, the first opera show was ‘La Dame blanche’ by François Adrien Boieldieu, mounted in 1833 at the Theatre of varieties (Teatrul de varietăţi) of Copou by a French troops of Foureaux brothers, with Joseph Herfner at the desk, the chief of the military music in Iaşi. The Dramatic Philharmonic Conservatory is founded in 1836 in Iaşi, where vocal music and declamation are taught in Romanian language. The coordinator was Gheorghe Asachi, and, among members: the master Ştefan Catargiu, Vasile Alecsandri – the father, the tenor Paul Cervatti and the actor Matei Millo. On 20th February 1838, the students of the canto class of the Conservatory interpreted, for the first time in Romanian language, the opera ‘Norma’ by Vicenzo Bellini. But because the chancellor Catargiu suspends the promised subsidy of 200 gold coins, the activity of the Conservatory stops in the same year. The opera seasons are held by the troops away: Fourreaux troop (which, in 1840, performs the first opera season in Iaşi) and Frisch troops in Cernăuţi. On 1st December 1846, the Great Theatre (Teatrul cel Mare) in Copou is inaugurated, which was also housing opera shows, represented by the Moldavian (‘moldavă’) troop and the orchestra led by Alexandru Flechtenmacher. On this stage has premiered the first Romanian operetta – Baba Hârca byMatei Millo and music by Alexandru Flechtenmacher – in 1848. An intense artistic period s next: the first troop of ballet appears in 1866 within the opera company of L Ademolo; the premiere of ‘Faust’ opera by Charles Gounod takes place in Iaşi in 1873; Theodor Aslan creates the first troop of operettas in Iaşi in 1874; the Iaşi premieres of Verdi’s works take place: Lombards, Tigoletto, Nabucco, Ernani; starting with the last third of the nineteenth century, the vaudeville, a genre cultivated mainly by the Romanian artists – a combination between comedy (satire) and music (songs and dances), begins to attracts an increasingly larger public, causing difficulties for the foreigners’ shows. In the outbreak year of the War of Independence (1877), two Romanian operettas were played in Iaşi, which were signed by Ioan Andrei Wachmann and Eduard Caudella. In 1880, the Music Society is founded by the composer Eduard Caudella in Iaşi, Gheorghe Bengescu-Dabija and Teodor Aslan, under the presidency of Nicolae Şuţu, in order to promote the dramatic music, but also the establishment of a permanent lyrical theatre in Iaşi. The first Romanian comic opera was played in the same year – ‘Olteaca’ or ‘Urechile bărbatului în dar de nuntă’, composed by Eduard, on a libretto by Gheorghe Bengescu-Dabija. At the end of the century, the creation Petru Rareş – the first opera in the true sense of the word in the history of the Romanian music, will be sang to the same Moldavian creator, Eduard Caudella. A year later, in 1881, the National Theatre created its own Lyrical Company, besides the Dramatic Society (which worked only one season). The Company consisted of: the director of the Conservatory Constantin Gros, the concert-maestro Eduard Caudella, the choirmaster Gavriil Musicescu, and Teodor Aslan and Giovanni Dimitrescu were among the soloists. Towards the end of the ninth decade, Romanian troops were also coming to Iaşi, which presented opera shows. Also, the foreign troops bring new titles: the Perlov troop presents Russian creations – the Demon by Anton Rubinstein, Evgheni Oneghin by Piotr Ilici Ceaikovski, A Life for the Tsar by Mihail Ivanovici Glinka; the German troop of Leo Bauer brings to Iaşi, in 1894, the first works of Wagner – Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Die Meinstersinger von Nürnberg; an Italian company presents for the first time the works Otello by Giuseppe Verdi, Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni, Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo; a French troop presents Mignon by Thomas Ambroise and Mireille by Charles Gounod. In the same period, in the capital of Moldavia, the most important Romanian lyrical artists were singing, including: Hariclea Darclée, Elena Teodorini, Carlota Leria,Margareta Iamandi, Giovanni Dimitrescu. On 1st December 1896, the current building of the National Theatre was inaugurated, which will host since that moment the most important shows in the city, including the opera shows. During the World War I, Iaşi has experienced an intense artistic and theatrical activity with charitable purposes for those who had come from the front, for the injured and the local people. Many of the great Romanian artists were at that time in the capital of Moldavia: the great composer George Enescu – who was playing in front on the injured in the hospitals of Iaşi and Moldavia, Mărioara Ventura, Constantin I. Nottara, Iancu Brezeanu, Tony Bulandra, Romald Bulfinski,Ion Manolescu,Zaharia Bârsan, Ion Livescu, Ştefan Braborescu, Elvira Popescu, Maria Filotti, Maria Ciucurescu, Olimpia Bârsan, Tanti Cutava Barozzi and others. Alexandru Mavrodi, the general director of the theatres, has supported intensely the festivals and manifestation of the artists in Iaşi, sometimes even twice a day. This is how the idea of establishing an opera in Iaşi appeared. The theatre was, the orchestra was – leg precisely by George Enescu, the costumers were at the National Theatre, the choir could have been made by people in Iaşi and refugees, therefore Umberto Passione, the tenor Vasile Rabega and George Niculescu-Băsu took the work seriously. The scores for the orchestra were written in the night and the rehearsals were in the day. Seeing the determination of the artists, Alexandru Mavrodi gathered all of them and established the Romanian Society of Opera. For two years, operas and operettas like: ‘Faust’ by Charles Gounod, ‘The Tales of Hoffmann’ by Jacques Offenbach, ‘La Traviata’ and ‘Ernani’ by Giuseppe Verdi, ‘Madama Butterfly’ by Giacomo Puccini, ‘Cavalleria Rusticana’ by Pietro Mascagni, ‘Pagliacci’ by Ruggero Leoncavallo, ‘Mam’zelle Nitouche’ by Hervé were represented in Iaşi. In the years of the World War II, there was a very close attempt to be materialized in the first Opera of Iaşi. In the winter of 1941-1941, it was decided the establishment of the Romanian Opera of Moldavia, which had to work by the collaboration of the Conservatory with the National Theatre. The composer Alexandru Zirra, Vasile Rabega and the conductor Antonin Ciolan were among the initiators. ‘La Boheme’ by Giacomo Puccini, ‘The Barber of Sville’ by Gioachino Rossini (conductor Antonin Ciolan) and ‘The Vagabonds’ by Karl Michael Ziehrer (conductor Mircea Bârsan) were then interpreted. In 1944, there was a new attempt to establish the Opera of Moldavia, when ‘La Traviata’ by Giuseppe Verdi (under the coordination of Egizzio Massini) was presented. In 1984, there was a third attempt to establish a permanent lyrical ensemble – when the work Lakmé by Léo Delibes was sung, under the artistic coordination of N. Broşteanu. The Romanian National Opera from Iaşi On 1st January 1956, after all these efforts, the State Opera of Iaşi was established by the Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 2998 of 30.12.1955. After a long period of affirmation and consolidation of the lyrical theatre in the capital of Moldova and after several attempts of official recognition of these effort, the first opera public institution in the region of Moldavia is inaugurated in 1956 – the State Opera of Iaşi, which became in 2003 the Romanian National Opera of Iaşi (by the Government Decision No. 742, published in the Official Gazette of Romania No. 493 of 8th July 2003). The first season debuted on the evening of 3rd November 1956 with the show ‘Tosca’ by Giacomo Puccini, conducted by Radu Botez, the art direction being signed by Hero Lupescu, and the scenography by Zoltan Gerzanich. The first director of the Opera was the musician and professor Ioan Goia (1956-1965). Over the years, he was followed by important personalities of the Romanian music life: the opera director George Zaharescu (1965-1969), the director Ion Păvălache (1965-1974), the director Dimitrie Tăbăcaru (1974-1982), the musicologist and composer Constantin Dediu (1982-1991) and the conductor Corneliu Calistru (1991-2008). In the period 2008-2011, the management of the Opera was provided by interim executives. After a competition of projects organised by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in 2011, the director Beatrice Rancea obtained the position of manager of the Romanian National Opera of Iaşi, for a period of four years. The Romanian National Opera of Iaşi operated in the same building with the ‘Vasile Alecsandri’ National Theatre of Iaşi. The headquarters of the two institutions is a real architectural masterpiece. In May 2006, the building was under a complex process of consolidation and restoration. This situation of no longer having an own scene, made Opera adopt some alternative solutions for the continuation of the artistic activity. The repertoire and the program were adapted to the new available spaces: hall of the Students’ Culture House, hall of the Athenaeum of Tătăraşi and the hall ‘Ion Baciu’ of the ‘Moldova’ Philharmonic for concerts.
The evolution of the Romanian National Opera in Iaşi is connection with the names of some artistic personalities:
Radu Botez – (1909-1980), first conductor of the institution between 1956-1977, considered one of the greatest Romanian opera and symphonic concerts conductor, home and abroad, and teacher at the Conservatory of Iaşi. Ion Iorgulescu, spinto-lyrical tenor, activated between 1956-1974. He excelled in the roles in: ‘Aida’ -Giuseppe Verdi, ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ – Giuseppe Verdi, ‘Carmen’ – Georges Bizet, ‘Bohemia’ – Giacomo Puccini, ‘Tosca’ – Giacomo Puccini, ‘Madama Butterfly’ – Giacomo Puccini, ‘Otello’ -Giuseppe Verdi.
Florica Mărieş – spinto soprano; activated between 1956-1975; in the repertoire: ‘Aida’ – Giuseppe Verdi, ‘Tosca’ – Giacomo Puccini, ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ – Giuseppe Verdi, ‘Il Trovadore’ – Giuseppe Verdi; Natalia Vronski-Gastel, first ballerina between 1956-1975; in the repertoire: ‘Giselle’ – Adolphe Charles Adam, ‘The Nutcracker’ – Piotr Ilici Ceaikovski, ‘The Fountain of Bakhchisaray’ – Boris Asafiev etc.
Ion Baitanciuc – first dancer between 1956-1977, covered the entire ballet repertoire.
Dimitrie Tăbăcaru – (1929-1985), artistic director 1956-1985, manager of Opera 1974-1982; references: ‘Manon Lescaut’ – Giacomo Puccini, ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, ‘Alexandru Lăpuşneanu’ – after a libretto by Gheorghe Dimitriu, ‘Don Carlos’ – Giuseppe Verdi, ‘Samson and Dalila’ -Giuseppe Verdi; he mounted opera works at home and abroad; teacher of the Conservatory of Iaşi; Bella Balogh, choreographer; activated between 1958-1977 and 1980-1986; performed most of the ballet works: ‘The Fountain of Bakhchisaray’ – Boris Asafiev, ‘The Bronze Horseman’ – Reinhold Glier, The Nutcracker -Piotr Ilici Ceaikovski etc.
Mioara Cortez –spinto soprano; activates within the Opera since 1980; interprets the most important specific roles: ‘Tosca’ – Giacomo Puccini, ‘La Boheme’ – Giacomo Puccini, ‘Aida’ – Giuseppe Verdi, ‘Norma’ – Giuseppe Verdi, ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’ – Giuseppe Verdi, ‘Il Trovadore’ – Giuseppe Verdi etc.; performed numerous concerts, in the country and abroad; teacher at the Conservatory of Iaşi.
Corneliu Calistru – conductor, he worked at the Opera since 1965. In the period 1991-2008 he was manager of the Opera; he addresses the entire opera operetta and ballet repertoire (Giacomo Puccini, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi, Charles Bizet, Pietro Mascagni, Rugierro Leoncavallo); symphonic shows in the country and abroad; teacher at the Conservatory of Iaşi. Artists known in the Romania and abroad have performed on the lyrical stage of Iaşi: Florescu, Nicolae Herlea, Eugenia Moldoveanu, Maria Slatinaru-Nistor, Viorica Cortez, Virginia Zeani, Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, Walter Monacchesi, Irina Arhipova, Todor Kostov, Viktor Tretiak, etc. The shows were mounted by the masters of the opera direction: Hero Lupescu, Anghel Ionescu Arbore, Dimitrie Tăbăcaru, George Zaharescu, Marina Emandi Tiron, Anda Tăbăcaru-Hogea, Mihai Zaborila. In preparing the shows, the artistic directors have collaborated with talented scenographers and scenography painters. Regarding the scenography, the followings were the authors in the Opera of Iaşi: Zoltan Gerzanich, Hristofenia Cazacu, George Dorosenco, Nicolae Vericeanu, Gheorghe Codrea, Rodica Arghir, Cătălin I. Arbore, Adriana Urmuzescu, Marfa Axenti etc.
The establishment of the Opera in 1956 has also led to the establishment of the orchestra. At first, it benefited from the contributions of the best instrumentalists existing in Iași, especially the employees of the ‘Moldova Philharmonic, and then it was completed with students and graduates of the ‘George Enescu’ Conservatory. The orchestra was prepared and led in time by conductors like: Radu Botez, Trăian Mihăilescu, Corneliu Calistru, Cornelia Voinea, Gheorghe Victor Dumănescu, Răsvan Cernat. Currently, it is led by the conductors Traian Ichim and Cristian Orosanu.
Also in 1956, the choir of the Opera in Iași was established, which addresses a wide repertoire of opera and operetta, but also vocal-symphonic repertoire. Over the years, the following have managed the choir: Emil Chivu, Ion Pavalache, Anton Bișoc.
The Opera Ballet of Iași was established one year later, in 1957. The one who consolidated the group, signing the direction and choreography of numerous prestigious shows was the choreographer Bella Ballogh. Along the way, the management of the ballet was provided by Mihaela Atanasiu and Marius Zirra, and after 1990 by Gheorghe and Carmen Stanciu. Among the choreographers with whom the dancers of the Opera of Iași have worked are: Oleg Danovsky, Vasile Marcu, Ion Tugearu (National Opera of Bucharest), Alexa Mezincescu, Mihai Babușka (National Opera of Bucharest). Among the great values that have collaborated with the Opera ballet were: Iaroslav Seh, Irina Kolpakova, Vladimir Tihonov, Alexa Mezincescu, Iuliana Iliescu, Magdalena Popa, Gheorghe Cotovelea. The first dancers of the ballet company were: Pania M Ranja, Natalia Vronski, Virginia Ferescu, Ion Băitanciuc, Paul Robert, Ion Rusu, Laura Apetroaie, Carmen Stanciu, Gheorghe Stanciu, Ion Barbu. In the shows in Iași, the following have collaborated as dancers: Corina Dumitrescu, Florica Stănescu, Mihai Babușca, Delia and Călin Hanțiu, Ion Dumitrescu, Monica Cherecheș, Alina Herpacova, Aris Kolpocov.
In 1781 the first theater of the Romanian Principalities was established in Timișoara;
8th September 1818: the first opera show was played in the Cișmeaua Roșie theatre in Bucharest: The Italian Woman in Algiers by Gioacchino Rossini, performed by the troop of Gerger (the poster was printed in Greek); Cișmeaua Roșie is also known as the first hall of theatre in Bucharest, arranged by the Lady Radu, the daughter of the Ruler Caragea Vodă, in the winter of 1817 (the theatre was located on the intersection of the General Berthelor street and Calea Victoriei, near the White Church of Bucharest);
The establishment of the first cultural and literary societies: the Literary Society (Societatea literară) (1821-1830 and re-established after 1843), the Philharmonic Society of Bucharest (Societatea filarmonică din București) (1833), the Philodramatic Conservatory of Iași (Conservatorul filodramatic din Iași) (1836), the Romanian singing and theatre Society of Transilvania (Societatea românească cantatoare și theatrală din Transilvania) (1847), the Philharmonic Society of Timișoara (Societatea filarmonică din Timișoara) (1871), the Dramatic Society of Craiova (Societatea dramatică din Craiova) (1889);
On 1st December 1846 the Great Theater of Copou was inaugurated;
In 1852 the Great Theatre of Bucharest was raised, called in 1877 the National Theatre, the first building of this kind in the Romanian Country (near the current Palace of Telephones);
In 1875, the new ‘Franz Joseph’ theatre was inaugurated in Timișoara in the presence of the head of the Habsburg Empire; the building was designed by the same Fellner and Helmer;
The first professional opera troop that presented an opera show in Romanian language was led by the composer and director George Stephănescu, who played in Bucharest on 6th or 8th May 1885 (the exact date is unknown), Linda di Chamounix de Gaetano Donizetti;
In Craiova, the ‘Teodorini’ Theratre was inaugurated in September 1888 by a show where the great soloist Elena Teodorini participated along soloists from Italy; the building was destroyed by a fire in 1927;
The National Theatre of Iași was built between 1894-1896, under the coordination of the Viennese architects Felnner and Helmer, who built similar theatres in Vienna, Zagreb, Odessa, Timișoara etc.;
The Romanian Opera was established in 1919 in Cluj – the first institution of this kind in Romania;
1st April 1921: the establishment of the State Opera of Bucharest, after three years of efforts made by artists constituted as private company; The official debut of the new institution took place by the premiere of Lohengrin by Richard Wagner, having as direction the great composer George Enescu; The representations took place on the stage of the National Theatre;
The Romanian Opera of Timișoara was established on 30th March 1946, by the Decree-Law No. 254, signed by King Mihai, Mihai Ralea – Minister of Arts and Gh. Tătărăscu – ad-interim Minister of Finance;
The new headquarters of the Opera and Ballet Theatre on the banks of Dâmboviței was inaugurated on 9th January 1965, with The Queen of Spades by Piotr Ilici Ceaikovski, also followed by the premiere of the ballet Coppélia by Léo Delibes, in a production signed by Anton Romanowski, on 19th January 1954;
The Musical Theatre of Brașov, the current Opera of Brașov was established on 21st December 1955;
The State Opera of Iași was inaugurated in 1956, which became in 2003 the Romanian National Opera of Iași;
In the same year, on 15th May 1956, the ‘Nae Leonard’ Musical Theatre was established in Galați;
The Lyrical Theatre of Constanța was also established in 1956, and it received in 1996 the position of Opera, and in 2004, it became the ‘Oleg Danovski’ National Theatre of Opera and Ballet;
The Lyrical Theatre of Craiova was established in 1979, the youngest institution of this kind in Romania; in 1996, the name is changed in the Theatre of Opera and Operetta of Craiova, and since 2003, it became the ‘Elena Teodorini’ Lyrical Theatre of Craiova.