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The Release of the Monograph «The Cluj Romanian Opera»

Monday, 12 April 2010 , ora 10.02

Octavian Lazăr Cosma launched on April 11, 2010 the first volume of the monograph The Cluj Romanian Opera, which he authored. Comprising 889 pages with numerous illustrations, the book describes in detail the founding of Cluj Romanian Opera and its development between 1919 and 1959. You may learn more about this work from the author himself.

Why did you want to write this book?

Because I felt the need to present an institution which is representative for the musical life in our country. That happened as I had published nine volumes bearing the title Romanian Music Chronicles, in other terms, an authentic history of the Romanian music from the origins until 1920. The part regarding the period after 1920 was never to be written because I became involved in many other 'unmusical' activities; I opted for introducing some institutions ( that is, the musical life ) and then I would focus on composers. I wrote a book about Bucharest Romanian Opera, the first volume of which ( its history up to 1920 ) was published, but the second one was not issued, despite the fact that it is entirely written and comprises thousands of pages. I wrote about the Radio Symphonic Orchestras, about the Society of Composers, about the Union of Composers, about orchestras in the inter-war period. I wrote about the Cluj Romanian Opera two massive volumes, the first being printed at the beginning of this year.

Did you encounter any difficulties during the documentation process? If so, which were they?

One may come across difficulties at every corner, especially considering that we have no institutions specialized in preserving records, documents etc. All by yourself, you have to sum up research from several sources in order to interpret and clarify, to observe and have all what is worth to be exposed and known about the fates of certain musical institutions dug out from beneath the ashes of the past.

Who was the most distinguished personality that influenced the evolution of Cluj Romanian Opera between 1919 and 1959, the period referred in the monograph you wrote?

It is very difficult to answer that question because there were several notable persons. The first, Tiberiu Brediceanu, had the idea, but Constantin Pavel, tenor, manager and director, can be held 'responsible' for making it reality. He was the heart of this institution; nothing could have been started without him. It is acknowledged that Constantin Pavel came to Bucharest after 1930, becoming the greatest stage maestro we ever had. He began his career in Cluj though. Also from Cluj headed for Vienna was tenor Traian Grozăvescu, following a conflict between him and the management of the institution, represented by the famous baritone Dimitrie Popovici Bayreuth, the former Principal of Bucharest Conservatory, who used to be a very austere person and did not tolerate any misbehaviour on behalf of the tenors. It was a serious dispute and Grozăvescu went to Vienna.

To whom is this first volume of the monograph addressed?

This book is intended to be read by intellectuals, by those who want to know what happened in the past and, of course, by opera lovers. They will discover countless reasons to support their love. Premieres... what great premieres! There were seasons with eight new titles in Cluj, arranged and sung through and through. The Cluj Romanian Opera was an enviable lyrical fortress, one cannot easily find something like that nowadays; they had a small budget but an enormous potential.

When are you going to publish the second volume of the monograph about the Cluj Romanian Opera?

When there are funds. This first volume has been waiting for 12 years to be printed. The second one is already edited and now I am selecting and arranging the background photo material because there is at least one illustration on every page. I have certain promises there will be money to support that and therefore I hope the second volume will be printed this autumn.

Petra Gherasim
Translated by Bogdan Prundeanu, Andreea Velicu
MA Students, MTTLC, Bucharest University