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The Gala... of the Iași Opera Gala

Friday, 5 July 2013 , ora 9.23

After the great success of the first Awards Gala of the National Operas, which took place at the beginning of June, the Opera in Iași had the brilliant idea to close the season with another Gala, which continued the first one, and invited award winners and nominees to give recitals, so that the audience could listen to those listed as 'the best soloists in 2013' - Iulia Merca and Cristian Mogoșan from Cluj - or 'best debut' - Bogdan Zahariea from the Opera in Timișoara - along artists of the host opera house, nominated for these categories - Lăcrămioara Hrubaru-Roată, Ana-Maria Donose, Jean Bouton. To round up the event, Anita Hartig, coming from Vienna, played here for the first time; she has been, however, already appreciated on other great stages.

Accompanied by the orchestra and the choir (trained by Manuel Giugula) and conducted by Gabriel Bebeșelea, the young artists with beautiful, well-carried voices, chose a repertoire meant to highlight their natural gifts and, perhaps, the ability to play difficult, yet very versatile scores. So we found tenor Bogdan Zahariea sing two of his master arias in Tosca (Third Act) and Turandot, chosen from Puccini's operas for a reason, because his generous voice, with a wide range and an impressive height, is at ease with such a repertoire, and the applauses rewarded it as soon as the orchestra was playing the last notes. Then tenor Cristian Mogoșan sang certain parts that always seem to appear in his recitals, either of Eugene Onegin, or of the zarzuela La Taberna del Puerto, which he usually tackles in a more mellow way; although the soloist feels better when singing 'heroic' arias, mezzosoprano Iulia Merca used the same tendency to choose a more discreet sound over the temperamental explosion required by the characters in Adriana Lecouvreur or Carmen. I was glad, though, to rediscover young soprano Lăcrămioara Hrubaru-Roată, from Iași, and her charming performance of the aria in Candide, her brilliant vocal and stage expressivity highlighting her voice, impeccably carried from a technical viewpoint. I watched baritone Jean-Kristoff Bouton, another soloist of the host theatre, in the risky cavatina in The Barber of Seville, a little too full of effects supposed to be comical, then her colleague, soprano Ana-Maria Donose, trying to sing the beloved aria Music well, in spite of visible problems (health problems, as I later discovered).

Among so many young people familiar to the audience in Iași and even in the country, inviting Anita Hartig was certainly the surprise of the evening, thanks to the remarkable performance of having a soloist who has constantly been appreciated at the Staatsoper Vienna (where she has been singing since 2009), and who has been applauded at the La Scala (Milan) or at Covent Garden (London) this season; she was, however, remarkable at her absolute debut in Iași. The music lovers that filled the Opera hall were fascinated by the beauty of her star-spangled voice, supported by impeccable technique and especially by the 'class' one can 'feel' in her interpretive manner, a natural one, yet very appropriate for the character, by the elegant pronunciation or the coherence and fluency of her discourse, both in the arias in Faust or Giuditta, and in the duo from The Merry Widow, together with her former colleague in Cluj, Cristian Mogoșan. A charming presence, with an impeccable attitude (again), with all the traits of an international artist, Anita Hartig convinced us she has gained a lot and that she is indeed no longer a young soloist with (just) a special vocal potential, and that she has turned into a singer who knows what she wants, what she has to do to convey the feelings and emotions of the heroines she plays, who learns, smartly and tenaciously, who 'steals' (in the best meaning of the word) from the celebrities alongside whom she sings abroad. And that night, at the end of the season at the Opera in Iași, she proved her professionalism and simplicity, adding (another) novely to the stage, as well as extra importance to a Gala that had all the ingredients to be extraordinary, as it had to.

Conducted by Gabriel Bebeșelea, the orchestra accompanied the soloists with rigour, but it also rang in more pretentious pages from The Mastersingers of Nuremberg or from The Force of Destiny, collaborating with the choir in famous sequences fromCarmina Burana or Il trovatore. In a festive, 'feel-good' atmosphere, the evening ended with the ever-present Brindisi from Traviata, sang by all the soloists - obviously, led by Anita Hartig and Cristian Mogoșan - and by the entire ensemble, to the general enthusiasm of the audience and the shower of confetti pouring over all of us like fireworks.

Anca Florea
Translated by Irina Borțoi and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, The University of Bucharest