Press conference at the Bucharest National Opera House
On March 31st the Bucharest National Opera House will host the premiere of the musical "The Phantom of the Opera". Yesterday, on March 23rd, 2023, a press conference for this event took place in the Opera House's lobby. Daniel Jinga, the Opera House's director, Gary McCann, the stage designer and the main actors, soprano Irina Baianț (who will play Christine), and actor Adrian Nour (who will play the Phantom), were all invited. The Minister of Culture, Lucian Romașcanu, should have been present as well, but, unfortunately, he couldn't make it.
According to the Opera House's director, the costs of staging this production were high, but the ticket booth for the first eight shows will be closed, as they are completely sold out. The show includes pyrotechnics, chandeliers falling from the ceiling, and other such moments meant to keep the audience members on the edge of their seats. All these displays will of course be performed according to regulations, ensuring the safety of both the audience members and the stage performers. Over 500 people were involved in developing this project, according to Daniel Junga.
The first topic of the conference was the reason for which the Bucharest National Opera House will stage a musical. Daniel Jinga's answer: "The mission of an institution such as the Bucharest National Opera House is that of satisfying the needs of opera lovers, and also that of bringing the audience closer to art, of bringing the young generations closer to opera, of shaping them from a cultural perspective. As we all know, the musical is a genre that is becoming more and more popular in Romania, a genre which brings the wider public closer to true culture. Musicals can attract even the developing audience towards opera".
Irina Baianț and Adrian Nour performed these roles before in a past production. According to them, they had the chance to grow in the meantime, but their enthusiasm for the roles is still the same as a few years back. "I feel a lot more competent and confident. I've learnt a few things in the years since I've last played in this musical, it all had time to settle and I'm more self-confident now. Our approach towards this work is more in-depth, more theatrical this time, and I hope this version of the musical will see more performances than the previous one" - Adrian Nour
During the conference we also learned that the songs in the show will be in Romanian, not in English as in the original. "We will sing in Romanian and I think this will make it very easy to understand for everyone. This is one of the more interesting aspects. Of course, the universal practice is to translate musicals or operas into the language of the country in which the staging takes place, which is why we were very happy to work with Ernest Fazekaș, a wonderful translator, who managed to capture the meaning very well, even though not every word was kept. It's an adaptation so we have a rhythm and everything goes together, but he managed to maintain the meaning of the story, and that is amazing." - Irina Baianț
Daniel Jinga, the Opera House's director, who will appear himself in this musical as the conductor, further commented that this version of "The Phantom of the Opera", unlike other international performances of it, will have the advantage of a symphonic orchestra, the Opera House's very own orchestra.
At the end of the conference, we were invited to take a quick peek at the concert hall, where rehearsals are still under way under director's Răzvan Ioan Dincă guidance. The stage design is of a rich baroque inspiration, maybe a tad lighter than in other stagings. Stage designer Gary McCann told us about his experience as an assistant under Maria Björnson, the stage designer for the first "The Phantom of the Opera" staging, and although he didn't get to work with her on that show, he is very familiar with her style, which was important for this project. This is Gary McCann's second collaboration with the Bucharest National Opera House, as he was previously invited to do the stage design for "La Traviata" by Verdi, which is one of the most beautiful shows currently performed at the Opera House.
The first stage play of "The Phantom of the Opera" at the Bucharest National Opera House will take place on the 31st of March, followed by more performances on the 1st and 2nd of April, and then in May, on the evenings of 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th.
Translated by Ioana-Diana Sandu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu