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Musical Comedy Has Been Revived in Brașov
The festival being in full swing, at the IXth edition, the Brașov National Opera has marked out a point of reference in the existence of theatre and its faithful employees, a theatre which is under the sign of the debut from various reasons and in various ways. After many years, by the power of their extraordinary enthusiasm and contagious ambition, the ad-interim manager Cecilia Doiciu and musical secretary Ovidiu Mezei set out to bring back into their repertory a musical comedy, directed by a new name on the theatre poster, only that the roles would be interpreted by soloists who would either reappear on the scene (again after many years) in important roles or those which analysed for the first time this peculiar genre.
A true challenge…
… both for the group as well as for the public, moreover since the Bat by J. Strauss was staged, in the continuity vision of the famous Alice Barb, with a long-standing experience in prose theatre, having numerous acquaintances in the world of music and thus managing to enact an entire lyrical show. The context was such that the production was put on stage in an extremely short time span, by working with two distributions (even with a third one), in which, likewise, the majority of soloists were debutants in some form or another.
During the evening of the first performance, the soprano Lăcrămioara Schuller was the only one who resumed a character who, many years ago, had brought her true artistic fulfillment on the Bucharest scene, displaying humour and rakishness, but also the ability to utter the written text, knowing from the inside the mannner of evolving in this highly demanding genre, thus bringing forth a flighty and breezy character called Adela, endowed with a game of authentic abigail.
Another soprano - Mirela Zafiri - who had previously delivered the same role, appeared this time in Rosalinda, due to the fact that the type of lyrical, soft voice of the two interpreters was very similar, although a certain contrast would have been preferable, moreover since they shared the same type of histrionic attitude on stage; kittenish, spoiled, sometimes slightly mincing in delivering her speech, wishing at the same time to expose her over-acute pitch, she was, undoubtedly, quite different from what we usually imagine about the petite philistine from Vienna.
On the other side, the mezzosoprana Cristina Roșu performed the quick-change-part of Prince Orlowsky in an agreable manner by wearing in a stately fashion the red evening dress, having the required attitude suitable for the elegant young man, but maybe slightly less time worn than he declares himself. The barytone Adrian Mărcan made his debut in Falke, bringing also his qualitative voice and his self assurance, the gracefulness of movement and the charisma necessary for the character. The bassist Dan Popescu has created a good-tempered Frank, with profound voice and an abstemious and sometimes funny disposition, meanwhile the tenor Liviu Iftene took advantage of the occasion to offer an entire recital (in my opinion, quite excessive) with clippings from famous arias pertaining to the first, as well as the last act, displaying his voice as well as his acute tonality, "tenor Alfred" having booked also an amplified stage game (entering the window, hiding in the closet, taking out from the suitcase his home slippers, studying partitions in the "cell" like a cage etc.). Mugurel Oancea delivered with utter faithfulness the role of the blind notary, Marcel Zănescu being a merciless Ivan, Cristina Rotundu an amiable Ida, while Cristian Fieraru was a fairly inffective Frosch.
It is quite remarcable that in this manner (almost) the entire distribution was composed of the soloists from the theatre (as well as during the next evening, on the other hand), only the tenor Cosmin Marcovici having arrived from Iași in order to make his debut, in his turn, in a musical comedy, even displaying self- assurance and lack of stage fright playing the difficult Eisenstein, thus changing the "register" of the dramatic characters with the one in which he danced and played convincingly. On the other hand, the special guest at the "ball of Prince Orlowsky", the soprano Daniela Vlădescu lived the emotion of the comeback on the stage where she made her career debut, announced as having appeared on the Opera stage in Brașov after more than 20 years in which she played on many theatre stages, choosing for that moment with poignant emotional lift the nostalgia-laden Indian Song from Rose-Marie; dressed in a blue sari, worn on the revolving scene like in a journey, she seemed separated from the starry sky in the background (a very inspired idea, especially during New Year's Eve night, but I would have preferred that during the aria, the stars would stay blue, not pink).
A show with great impact for the public
Talking about these aspects, it could be said that the settings are functional and properly ventilated, with catchy and sizzling elements, whereas the costumes are generally well-tailored, displaying good taste, although I never understood why the elegance and the pastel colours from the second act are not being maintained also in the dresses worn by Adela (coraille red) and Ida (phosphorescent green), not even granny's dress in which Rosalinda was dressed in and looked like a Hungarian princess was not an inspired choice.
Staging was intended to be closer to prose theatre, but the result is still towards classical coordinates, with the benefit of having young and good-looking interpreters, with a clear diction especially for the written text, flexible and enthusiastic; honestly, I never really understood why Eisenstein and Falke, after drinking from the votka bottle, they throw oneself about in an identical manner (and quite repetitively), instead of pretending to have asphyxia due to the strong drink, likewise as I don't know why the so-called mice-ballerinas resumed themselves to correct and devoid of waggery movements, meanwhile the ballerina men displayed expressive and highly glamorous gestures (coreography by Dorin Coșeriu).
The Chorus (trained by Mircea Oros) performed remarkably, the orchestra attempted and even partly succeeded to be on top, but the conductor Traian Ichim imposed a tempo not at all corresponding to the one requested by the soloists, a fact which generated numerous disparities, which most certainly may be modified in a better way during future shows, as well as slight splutters or forgotten responses and standstills, so that the show may acquire more fluency and glamour. Due to the fact that, in an overview, it is homogenuous, well-coordinated, full of vivid elements and moreover displaying an enormous impact to the public who rendered the room to become (literally) spadeful, the tickets having been already sold out for the next dates in which the strauss musical comedy is to be programmed. The joy and enthusiasm with which the spectators applauded and acclaimed minutes on end fully rewarded the extremely distinguished effort of producers to offer the cherished work in a new cover and a correspondent interpretation, a sign that even artists and melomaniacs needed and had been waiting for too long to find themselves out or even to rediscover such a part. On the other hand, the gilded Christmas trees placed on the side part of the scene matched quite perfectly with the unfolding of the action which took place during the evening and nightime of New Year's Eve - a sign of renewal, of fundamental changes, which after many years, were taking place at the National Opera House in Brașov.
Translated by Raluca Petre MTTLC, Bucharest University