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RRM 25 - Interview with Simona Dumitriu, producer of Radio România Muzical
The history of a quarter of a century of Radio România Muzical includes countless success stories, radio productions with great impact on the public. These wonderful productions were also found The lesson of the little meloman, which you, Mrs. Simona Dumitriu initiated. A project that you submitted to the attention of Radio RomâniaMuzical, when you joined the team, in the early 2000s. You already had the radio theatre experience behind you, and here came this story, which included not only shows, but also interactive performances. Let's start with the beginning. How the idea of making it was born The lesson of the little meloman?
First of all, thank you for drawing attention and remembering The lesson of the little melomanbecause, for me, The lesson of the little meloman, in everything that means my radio journey as a radio producer, means the greatest achievement. The lesson of the little meloman it wasn't my idea. It was the idea of Mrs. Mihaela Doboș. Mrs. Director came up with the proposal to make a show for children, a music education show. At that time I was not yet in the Radio RomâniaMuzical team, but when I heard about this project, having almost a very good collaborator of mine, Mara Popa, who was a producer of shows for children at RomâniaTineret, we decided to propose something together. Just like you said, my experience of radio theatre was absolutely necessary and I formed a team from which, first of all, I thought that a screenwriter and a director should be part of and I turned to Mihai Lungeanu, who was a director at the TeatrulRadiofonic. And that's how we started. In the first year it was the presentation of the music songs, but what I really have to say was the fact that, from the start, I had the support to present the songs live, that is, with the performers who were singing live and that was very important for the little listeners and the little music lovers, the ones I formed at the time. That was the first step. Then, easily, easily came the ideas, one after the other and we took a second step when we invited, in the second year, various personalities from the cultural world: Professor Nicolae Manolescu, Mircea Cărtărescu, Cristi Puiu. Neagu Djuvara was then, I remember, that it was an absolutely wonderful show. And after this moment it went even further, because the presence of a character had already begun to be foreshadowed, so in the second year, when a cultural personality was present and that was Dodolino, if I remember correctly, at first. It was a doll and from there we went even further and decided, because we had support and we did a project together with the television (cultural television station), we went ahead and we did with characters, with two presenters, who were elves, they were fairies, and the same doll character, but already with costumes.
Who were the performers?
He was an actor from the "Țăndărică" Theatre, who is also a teacher, I don't know if he is now, but then he was a professor at UNATC - Gabi Apostol and since then I started a collaboration. It was an ongoing collaboration with actors who are also puppeteers at the same time. That is, after Gabi Apostol came Dana Lungeanu, who was a student at the same time, employed at the "Țăndărică" Theatre, but was the former student of Gabi Apostol. After Dana Lungeanu was no longer in the country was Alina Teianu, who actually remained until the end of the project. She went through the steps with us and the transformations with us, because there were other transformations in the following year, the one with television. I also presented in schools and invited children, I gave them scripts, I remember Câmpina, if I'm not mistaken. We sent them a script and they played for us and it was sensational that moment, but we also presented in schools, here, in Bucharest. After that we went even further and tried to do radio theater, effectively. That is, to be The lesson of the little meloman with many characters, this time, with a script with a lot of effects, just like it is in the radio theater, so that we had a scenography, because that was the part that we missed most of the time. We did not have the possibility of a scenography, not actually being a theatrical performance and we did not have the financial support, first of all, we did not have the possibility to bring costumes and sets every time. We replaced the real costumes and sets with the ones that are imaginary, with the sounds and that was sensational.
Is it somehow the moment when the screenwriter Celina Petrescu appeared in the team?
Celina had been present before. She had also been present when I brought cultural personalities. She was one of those who helped a lot in persuading cultural personalities to come to The lesson of the little meloman. She left us for a year or two, if I'm not mistaken, and then came back as a screenwriter, her scripts being sensational. So, I will always argue that the most important contribution is hers, because The lesson of the little meloman it meant a lot of invitation to imagination. And it started from her in inviting you to imagine absolutely anything. I'll give you a concrete example. How could "Sleeping Beauty" be imagined, other than we all know it? And yet, Celina dared to change it and transform it in such a way that it would use our purpose of teaching children about an instrument. And this tool, this time it was the trumpet. The trumpet was the reason why the characters had to arrive at the time. There were no longer the first two fairies, there were two other fairies (because none of the presenters was anymore, she was replaced by Măriuca Bojin) and these two fairies, along with Doll, that remained, they had to run after Prince who didn't want to be in the story anymore and didn't know what to do. Prince he was upset, because he, every time he had to go and kiss her Princess, how many times any child read the story. And he had had enough of this and had hid in the library and in order to be able to get out of the library he was brought a trumpet. All these elements are sensational, in my opinion and can make absolutely any child want to listen to more music and I dare to think that they were not just children, because with the children were the parents, who turned for an hour into children. I think this was one of the big gains of The lesson of the little meloman.
How did you choose your teammates, the people in Radio that you collaborated with and turned into characters?
Because of our shared passion to share music with everyone, especially the little ones. I can't tell you how much joy there was at rehearsals and recordings, when we gathered in a studio and it wasn't just Alina Teianu, who is an actress and who could make a few voices, not just one (you couldn't admit that it was Alina Teianu). Next to me was Măriuca, we were the two elves, but Irina Vasilescu was also coming, Ioana Marghita was coming, ȘtefanCostache was coming. It was an immense joy to read and play as that text that Celina Petrescu offered us. It was sensational.I'll never forget those moments of rehearsals and recordings, which I think we should have, but we didn't realize then, recorded and be with the production itself.
What impressions are you left with, given that we are talking about a radio production broadcast between 2002 and 2013, if I am not mistaken. What echoes have reached you, especially since in 2020, Radio România Muzical has resumed some of these editions, has rebroadcast them. How do you see now, looking from a distance from a temporal point of view, the whole period of time?
That period meant, I think, for the children who were there, an opening of the horizon. If I refer to a few examples, I have at least two examples of children who not only had an open horizon, but even turned to a musical career. I mean, there are two kids that I know have finished the Conservatory, one on violin and the other on cello. I don't know about all of them, but if it is at least to have had the desire, from then on to listen to a bit of music and be receptive to classical music is sensational. If we are to refer only to echoes. But, we also refer to the echoes of the parents, because once again...
... and teachers, because you're talking about those little productions in schools.
The teachers, a lot of them, were very eager. The only situation was related to our possibility of travel and the fact that it was quite complicated, logistically speaking. That's why we chose, in the end, the radio theatre version, because it was much simpler, as long as they had this will, to transmit their recordings, when we did only radio production style. We lacked direct contact with the public and that's when we got in touch with the Humanitas bookstore and did some editions at the Humanitas Bookstore, in the presence of children. We made invitations and held shows, among the books. This was again something that, to me for one, gave me a strong emotion and I think not just me.
Translated by Beatrice Porumb,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu