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Interview with conductor Daniel Jinga, manager of the Bucharest National Opera

Monday, 3 April 2023 , ora 14.10

Today, March 31st, at 6:30 p.m., the premiere of the showThe Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber takes place, on the stage of the Bucharest National Opera. We received details about this new production, which is proving to be a sales success, but also about the future projects of the Bucharest Opera, from Daniel Jinga, the manager of the institution.

Mr. Daniel Jinga, The Phantom of the Opera is a musical awaited by the public and announced a long time ago. It is the longest running musical on Broadway. The premiere at the National Opera will be on March 31st. How are the rehearsals going, especially since you are the conductor of the shows?

Rehearsals go exactly as rehearsals generally do... with beautiful energy, with passion, with nerves, with stress... We are never satisfied. We are always looking to do things better, to reach the most refined phase of the artistic act in front of the audience. But I am glad we are on time, and as you know, directors and artists never have time, they complain that they wanted to rehearse more. Well, on this occasion, we took more time because it is a very complex production and we were afraid of the things that could appear along the way.

What can you tell us about this production? From a press release, I learned that they are working with mixed teams from Broadway and London West.

We can say that this production required an import of know-how because it is a very complex and very expensive production, it is a franchise. The licensor has asked us to strictly follow the details of this title. And then it will look just like on Broadway and live up to those expectations. That is why we needed mixed teams, because we wanted to go with people who already have expertise in The Phantom of the Opera title.

The director is Romanian, Răzvan Ioan Dincă, the choreographer - Romanian, VioletaDincă. But the scenographer is from London, the sound engineers have done the Phantom of the Opera, as well as the lighting engineer.

So, it is a collaboration between us, those who are doing this for the first time in Romania and putting our artistic imagination and all the energy and creativity to the test, and those who have worked on Phantom of the Opera before and come with the experience of the past.

If I am not mistaken, Răzvan Dincă had a similar experience at the Bucharest Operetta, several years ago.

Yes, but then he had this experience as a manager and not as a director. That is exactly why we are glad to have him now as an artist, because he has a lot of experience in staging musicals. The musical being a genre gaining more and more ground in Romania in recent years, it already has a loyal audience, an audience eager to come to the shows, as we can see from the sales we had with The Phantom of the Opera.

Indeed, in the same press release it is said that the story from the 19th century Paris is transposed to the Bucharest of our days, in this way wanting to expand the audience to a wider category of spectators. I believe it is for young people more, right?

Not only. I would not say that a certain age group defines the musical audience, on the one hand. On the other hand, Phantom of the Opera is a special musical, which abounds in opera passages. In fact, operatic sounds represent almost 80% of this production. So, it is very suitable for the space of the Bucharest National Opera, because the action is thought to take place in the Garnier Opera in Paris. And we are talking about theater in theater, about opera in opera. Therefore, this musical is a very good excuse to attract this category of musical lovers to opera as a genre.

What can you tell us about the performers you chose?

They are experienced artists, they are artists who treat everything with utmost seriousness and professionalism, because otherwise they could not succeed. They have beautiful voices, they are beautiful young people, they have power on stage and I think they will make a very good impression.

Please extend an invitation to the audience, even though the first shows are probably sold out!

Tickets are sold for the first eight performances. We will be putting six more shows on sale for the fall, but we are looking for ways to introduce other shows as well. We will talk to the licensor and we will certainly find solutions to satisfy this huge demand from the public. So, I am inviting them to keep an eye on the National Opera website, because at some point in the next few weeks, we are going to put other performances of The Phantom of the Opera on sale. And, of course, we invite them to the other performances of the National Opera, which is a repertory opera and programs a multitude of very diverse titles every month.

If it is a franchise, it has a limited number of shows?

It has a limited number of shows as a license, but every time, as there is an addition to the contract, there is also the possibility - if things go well, and we hope they do - to supplement the number of performances in a year, and the years to come. We want this title to have as long a life as possible, especially since it is a very expensive title and we want things to look good on paper as well. It will fully pay for itself this year, from the fifteen performances, but after that we want to go and add more value to the Bucharest National Opera.

So, in addition to the great artistic success that we hope this show will have, we want it to be a box-office success and also be a model of sustainability from an economic and managerial point of view.

Mr. Jinga, what else do prepare for the audience until the end of the season?

We will have a premiere of La clemenza di Tito, we will have a premiere of The Marriage of Figaro and, in the opening of the Enescu Festival in the fall, and in the opening of our season, we will have a premiere of Oedipe - a new Oedipe directed by Stefano Poda. La clemenza di Tito will be directed by Tompa Gabor; The Marriage of Figaro, by Sir David Pountney... So a multitude of very important directors will be staging at the National Opera this season, so audiences can only be happy and come to our shows as they did so far.

Are you coming back with a new edition of that festival that took place last year in the summer?

Surely! We do not stop at just one edition with the Bucharest Opera Festival. This year in June, starting on June 16th, the opera festival we are organizing will be opened with the premiere of The Marriage of Figaro, where, this time, we will also have guests from abroad, apart from our fellow traditional partners of festival - operas from Romania. The Budapest Opera, the Belgrade Opera will also come. I think this year we can say that the festival will grow both in content, form and substance.

Interview by Jeanine Costache
Translated by Elena Patricia Măroiu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu