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In performance at the Bucharest National Opera- Celan and I Due Foscari

Wednesday, 23 February 2011 , ora 10.12
The end of the week between 14th-20th February proposed, for the Opera in Bucharest, recent productions, but of an extremely different nature, both of them, however, proving the temptation of the management to include in the operatic repertoire scores too little known to us or even to the world.

Celan by Peter Ruzicka

Because, for instance, the opera Celan by Peter Ruzicka was set up in Bremen during the past seasons and, as far as I know, on other similar stages in the Germanic area, and in our country it was first presented at the Enescu Festival in 2009, in a concert-show form which, making use of minimal movement and quasi-continuous projections, succeeded in rendering a general idea of the story line, which was pretty difficult to stage. But because the contract also mentioned the subsequent set up in co-production with the Bremen Theater itself, last autumn director Vera Nemirova came to Bucharest, divising, although 'on the spot ', with ' adequate ' settings and costumes, a performance (apparently) very different from that in Germany, perhaps adjusted to the looks and possibilities of our vocalists.

Celan at the Bucharest National Opera

While at that concert there was an audience of about 50 spectators, many of whom left after half an hour, this time, after the last representation from the series of four that had been scheduled, the hall was even emptier. Those who managed to stay till the end listened to an interesting music written for orchestra and choir, with a possibly excessive percution (that required the musicians to stay in the artists' lodge and in the two ' double ' lodges at the ground-floor) performed by the excellent 'team' led by Alexandru Matei, but hard to swallow, as far as the vocal texture was concerned, with short lines and only a few grand interventions, without any melodicity, mainly semi-parlato, with big leaps, righteously handled by the performers.

Besides all this, although they sang in Romanian (translation from German by Sorin Georgescu) the text was subtitled electronically…in Romanian, of course (an obvious proof of the fact that the performers' diction was meant to be ' dubbed ' differently) reveiling, as well, only bits of phrases, with a somewhat confusing topic, like the structure of the main idea itself which, conceived as scenes from the present and the past (a system which is hard to grasp even within a cinematographic approach), alternating as puzzingly as the text itself, generates problems of understanding in the audience. And the fact that there are two ' Celans ' - the young one (Ionuț Pascu) and the elder one (Ștefan Ignat) who, at a certain point, meet and talk, to say nothing of the fact that the character, after ' throwing ' himself into the water (he thus commits suicide) comes back on stage for another round of dialogue, complicates things even more.

Celan - a bitter... conclusion

In such conditions, for more than two hours, we listened to the orchestra performing with dense, flawless acoustics, with an occasionally remarcable expressiveness, the choir, as usual, well organized (led by maestro Stelian Olariu) as well as a rich cast, as the composer proved more generous towards the two Celans, towards Christine (Tina Munteanu) and the roles played by Adriana Alexandru , under the guidance of Vlad Conta, the conductor who rigorously coordinated the pit-stage relationship (…and…the lateral).

As for the stage direction, he made use of a perpetual play of tables and chairs, with minimal projections and light changes, the characters having to wear neutral clothes, typical of the beginning of the 20th century or so. Requiring a huge, tiring effort, the work "checked" as a modern show on the posters, but I'm wondering to whom it was of any good, although, if I were to consider the fact that Ioan Holender recently stated that the production was well-received, despite knowing that the hall remained empty and that the audience didn't like that music, I assume that…someone found it to be of some good, especially since the composer and the director from Bremen took part in the representation before the last and were probably very pleased.

The Two Foscari by Giuseppe Verdi

The next day I came back to the BNO for an event-show - The Two Foscari by Verdi- also a concert-show (which is preferred in the present season) with elements of setting, costumes, projections (scenography by Adriana Urmuzescu) and a certain stage acting (Anda Tăbăcaru-Hogea), the interest being raised by the arrival of bariton Eduard Tumagian in the main role and of soprano Eliane Coelho (Lucrezia), impressive voices, of a special quality, successful artists who have received many rounds of applause along the decades, on the great stages of the world.

Eduard Tumagian

While the Romanian soloist has played this part since the 80's, at La Scala in Milan, and he was already at his second performance with the Verdian opera, the female perfomer…was making her debut in the difficult role in which her 'heavy' voice was made the most of, thus managing, at the end of an important career, a true performance, unanimously praised (except for a few quite high-pitched tones and the rather sonorous breathing).

Even if he was still affected by a rebellious cold, Tumagian gave a lesson of singing and interpretation, because not only his beautiful, rich voice, his elegant phrasing and his flawless diction won the audience, but also his vocal expressiveness, the manner in which he illustrated various feelings and emotions, through accents that laid a stress on the meaning of the words, as well as the role play which awarded the old doge both a grandiose stature and an air of credibility in his suffering, the 'tear', cleverly marked and the attitude, sometimes dignified, other times charged with grief, completed the image of the hero he studied, a long time ago, as it appeared in the productions of famous directors. His voice sounded roundly, penetratingly, with a determined and vibrant tone, possessing a profusion of nunaces which "coloured" the extremely demanding score.

Hector Lopez cast in the performance

Alongside his guests, tenor Hector Lopez, in a remarcable comeback shape, displayed a beautiful voice, well conducted, incisive and radiant, thus matching the performance of his stage parteners, while carrying out, in Jacopo, one of his recent, famous roles. In fact, as compared to the previous representation, Mihnea Lamatic, Liviu Indricău, Simonida Luțescu and Dan Indricău, as well as the choir and orchestra came much closer to the expectations of the public, as conductor Iurie Florea also got involved, with extra boldness and precision.

Unfortunately, not even this time were the spectators too numerous, but the ones who were present attended probably one of the best performances of the season, one not only with excellent voices, but also well-balanced and homogenous from all points of view, which is becoming a rarity at the BNO.

Anca Florea
Translated by Teodora Gheorghe and Elena Daniela Radu
MAstudents, MTTLC, Bucharest University