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Interview with conductor Cristian Mandeal

Monday, 10 June 2024 , ora 11.01

Cristian Mandeal will conduct "Madama Butterfly" on June 10th during the "Bucharest Opera Festival - All Puccini edition".

What does participating in the Bucharest Opera Festival mean to you?

For me, Puccini has always been a great composer. I have occasionally conducted Puccini's operas. I first conducted this "Butterfly" 40 years ago with Eugenia Moldoveanu and Ludovic Spiess, which was a wonderful experience. Conducting "Butterfly" again at this festivalbrings me great joy.

I have a new team of very young and talented people, so I hope it will be a performance worth seeing. The staging is still the old one, by Rînzescu, but from what I've heard, the sets have been revamped. Overall, the atmosphere is also dynamic. Let's hope that the music will also be renewed, that way removing the old pieces. In any case, during the rehearsals in this short period I had at the opera, I've made an effort to get rid of some piecesthat were sometimes played too often or not properly checked before each performance.

That's all I have to say. Of course, it is also a pleasure to know that I am conducting the only performance of the Bucharest National Opera within this festival.

How would you describe the collaboration with the Bucharest National Opera?

It is a good collaboration that has lasted over 40 years, as I mentioned earlier, and while I'm not exclusively an opera conductor, I often return to conduct opera performances, and everytime I come back, it's a challenge for me, something new, a new experience that each time is exciting. It's a different approach to any kind of opera music, regardless the style or historical origin. It's always exciting, interesting, and challenging. I can only be very happy that I was invited here.

As you mentioned, on June 10th you will conduct
"Madama Butterfly," one of the most refined Puccinian operas from a compositional standpoint. How do you view this creation?

I believe is the most complex of all Puccini's operas. It's not only refined, it is an introspection, an opera that touches the deep, psychological aspects of the characters, of an entire era, of issues that are as relevant today as they were back then. And Puccini's approach is extremely convincing. The introspection he makes into the psychology of the characters is very deep, very authentic, true, and, I would say, even moving.

It's a piece that I like the most among Puccini's work, much more than "Tosca" or "La Bohème," which are obviously more frequently staged and more spectacular in a certain way. But the lack of this exterior spectacle in "Butterfly" is compensated by the spectacle of psychological introspection, which is indeed worth watching and deserves to be assimilated both by the performers and the audience.

Interview by Ariadna Ene-Iliescu
Translated by Tania-Ana Lupu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu