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Anniversary Recital at the National Opera

Wednesday, 2 November 2011 , ora 10.45

After many years, the bass singer George Crăsnaru has made another entrance on the stage of the National Opera in Bucharest, playing the role of Tiresias from Oedipus , which opened the opera season so that only a few days later he would carry through a recital - located in the foyer this time, within the experimental studio - by means of which he marked four decades from his debut in that opera house where he had launched his unanimously appraised career, but where he also celebrated his 70 years of age. By means of his collaboration with pianist Vasilica Stoiciu-Frunză (who, in her turn, 'scored' 25 years of intense and diverse musical activity), the guest wished to offer, in the first part, lieds by Enescu, Schubert, Schumann, Ravel, Ibert, Tchaikovsky and, most certainly, The Balad of the Flea by Mussorgsky, by expressing once more that he is a genuine interpreter of the genre, who knows how to bestow upon words a certain expressiveness, to suit his musical speech to every style, to every composer separately, his acting skills being reflected in his manner of pinpointing meanings and effects of accents.

The professor'

His generous and warm vocal range does not seem to have lost anything related to its quality with the passing of the years, being even more vouched for in the arias of Don Giovanni by Mozart and Don Carlo by Verdi, even being presented in the second part of the programme as a tutor of some invited soloists with whom he has been collaborating for some time now, either in Germany, where he settled down in1980, or in Romania, at the craftsmanship courses he teaches on a regular basis. For that reason, he sang alongside soprano Victoria Goia the duet from Don Giovanni, the soprano then embarking upon an aria from Viva la Mamma by Donizetti, in which her melodious voice (which we noticed from the first years of study at UNMB), a well-defined voice, has won the hearts of many through its sonority and expressiveness; nevertheless the shrillness of some acute sounds has also come as a surprise, after which the soloist reappeared before its public in the company of barytone Ioan Ardelean for the duet in act II from La Traviata by Verdi; it was, as a matter of fact, an entire scene, also including Germont's aria, which the former soloist of the Opera in Constanța has sung through with great self confidence, by putting on display his vocal range only in the medium registre, due to the fact that in the acute registre the deficiencies are even more serious, as it was clearly revealed in the aria from Un Ballo in Maschera by the same Verdi. A new element was the performance of soprana Florina Mariș-Hinsu, exposing a spinto-dramatic, rich and pervasive sound, but also very sharp in the acute registre and embossed by an indefinable manierism, due to the fact that, during a couple of months (January-May 2002), she was hired at Staatsoper Vienna, where, even though she performed episodical or second phase roles, she would have had the opportunity to notice the way in which her partners were performing on stage; this time she opted for the aria in Tannhauser by Wagner and the duet in act IV of the Verdian opera Il Trovatore in the company of her husband, barytone Florin Mariș-Hinsu, but only in good faith.

The way Oedipus should be sung…

And nevertheless, in his dialogue with dr. Grigore Constantinescu, University Professor, bass singer - professor George Crăsnaru has revealed in a very direct manner his discontent for the fact that such voices are not promoted enough in our theatres - have they not noticed those considerable deficiencies? Hard to believe, moreover since the professor knows what a good technique and a "true" interpretation stand for, he himself being an artist in the purest form of the word, a fact which has been proved substantially at the end of the recital, by his suggested interpretation of Oedipus' monologue from Enescu's work, truly impressive by means of dramatism, nuance and style; I rejoiced to listen at last to an Oedipus sung the way it should be in order to convey the intensity of the feelings created by the composer, but I regretted, once more, the fact that, in the eighties, he did not approach the whole role, singing only some fragments from the score in concerts (and abroad ).

Organizational deficiencies

A quite limited public applauded for a long time the renewed meeting with one of the most esteemed soloists of the Bucharest Opera from the past decades, admiring at the same time the versatility with which pianist Vasilica Stoiciu-Frunză swayed swiftly from one style to another, from one genre to another, her experience and seriousness being expressed also in the discretion with which she shaded the accompaniment of vocal miniatures and in sustaining pages from arias, a process which is difficult enough especially regarding those conceived with a special, dramatic scope. She also proved to be a truthful partner for the bass singer which, 40 years ago, made his debut at the Opera and for those whom he presented as his pupils. The event was also marked by the Honorary Diploma offered by director Anda Tăbăcaru-Hogea, SEOB manager, on behalf of the executive committee of ONB, as a sign of appreciation for the entire career of bass singer George Crăsnaru, as cheerful and full of life as always.

It is regrettable that the recital unfolded simultaneously with a ballet show which took place on the stage, so that, even though the starting hour was postponed, the hubbub during the break (including the outcries of some children who were probably happy that they could imitate the graceful swing of the ballet dancers) overlapped in an extremely unpleasant manner with the elevated sounds in the recital, the conductor being thus compelled to intermit, for a few moments, his interpretative intercession, hoping that the "background noise" will stop. I do not believe that such simultaneous sessions, are to be found in a theatre from another world in open spaces (even though the respective foyer was somehow sealed with "termopan" windows).


Anca Florea
Translated by Raluca Petre and Elena Daniela RaduMTTLC, Bucharest University