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This week’s guest on Perpetuum Mobile, Mr. Răzvan Ioan Dinca, President and General Director of The Romanian Radio Broadcasting Society, talking with Gabriel Marica

Monday, 27 March 2023 , ora 14.20

Mr. Răzvan Ioan Dinca, President and General Director of The Romanian Radio Broadcasting Society is tonight's guest. Thank you for coming!

Thank you for inviting me!

We're meeting again, face to face, in this studio after a year. In 2022, also around the Radio România Muzical anniversary, during our talk you said that "Radio România Muzical is the sort of treasure which must receive constant support to exist." It is a very beautiful quote which, after a year, has a concrete argument supporting it, namely this FM channel for Iași.

It was a real joy for me when we took the steps in this regard and actually managed to obtain a new FM channel with coverage in an effervescent cultural area such as Iasi - where there is a target audience that we want to capture. My contribution was naturally administrative, but the joy was personal, as a citizen and as a lover of music.

It's not much, still. I continue to believe that we need to expand even more, we need to make it so that everyone in Romania can listen to Radio România Muzical, to the gems it broadcasts. Because I think that, in the long term, the only chance a nation has is to get closer to true values, to maintain them, to develop them. And if music isn't a true value, then what is?

Now, with so many means of obtaining information, with so many words that go in one ear and out the other, music is a permanent value that you can rely on when you lack other forms of support. It helps in every way, in the development of a person and, I think, in the progress of a nation.

So, I am glad we obtained the FM channel for Iași, and glad we are going to launch it there soon. We will all support this channel as much as possible, with the resources we and our partners have, and I hope for something more special to emerge in Iasi later on, as a kind of natural feedback in the end. Namely, a new type of listener, a new type of audience member for concerts and musical events because, as I said, Iasi is an enormously valuable city from a cultural point of view, and now people there have a chance to listen to the national Radio România Muzical station.

Since October 2004, Radio România Muzical has not received any new radio frequencies. That's when the radio broadcasting in Bucharest and the Muntenia area was completed. So, you can listen to Radio Romania Music on 97.6 and 104.8. And then there is this victory, as we call it - 95.4 FM for the Iasi area, especially for those who do not have internet. In the future, let's hope other listeners will enjoy this gift as well, shall we?

Of course, but because you also mentioned this digital aspect, you should know the steps we announced last year as expectations will become reality soon. It will be possible for Radio România Muzical to have a new website that meets all current requirements. You will be able to stream Radio România Muzical with a simple click, without any kind of delay between you clicking and the music playing, which is not a simple thing to do. We have already started working on other Romanian Broadcasting Society websites, but the surprise will come with the launch of the applications that will allow you to access said websites immediately. Internet access is probably easier these days and I think there is a much wider audience than we currently see, but they don't have the tools to listen in this format yet. And I think with proper advertising, many more people will listen to Radio România Muzical in this digital form of streaming.

It is obviously very important to also have this traditional on-air form of radio frequency broadcasting, but the transition towards digital broadcasting is, I think, natural.

I invite you to detach yourself as much as possible from the executive role of one of the most important media institutions in Romania and talk about your activity as a film director, because an interesting event is approaching, one which will delight Bucharest's music lovers - Bucharest National Opera House will put a famous musical on, a pinnacle of the genre I would say, "The Phantom of the Opera" by Andrew Lloyd Webber, directed by you. What can you tell us about this show?

There are few things I have the right to do, given the position I hold now, and of which I am proud, that of President and General Director of The Romanian Radio Broadcasting Society. Among these things, few in number, I can continue the activity I went to school for, which is directing shows. And I think this opportunity is unique in a director's career, that of receiving the proposal to make a show like "The Phantom of the Opera".

"The Phantom of the Opera" is an iconic title, towards which you cannot remain indifferent as an artist working in it. I think you cannot remain indifferent even as a member of the audience. As proof, the first 8 shows are already sold out, before people even got to see what it's going to look like, that's what I've heard from the management of the National Opera House, which compels me and my creative team to deliver. "The Phantom of the Opera" is much more complex, I think, than it seems, as a commercial musical show. It is a musical, but not that commercial... or it is commercial, but not without artistic value. It also has a lot to say from a musical perspective, as its composer whom you've already mentioned, Andrew Lloyd Webber, is one of the great composers of our time. He manages to slip absolutely exceptional themes and musical values into the fabric of his composition, even if he fashions them into forms that seem easily digestible. But as soon as you start to listen carefully, as soon as you start to musically dissect the elements, you see the depth and the many overlapping layers of his music. He achieves something few manage to - his music is artistically valuable and commercial at the same time. Moreover, the music together with the libretto produce an extraordinary synergy. To tell a story, a story that has value in itself because it talks about some extremely complex psychological characters, combined with this absolutely extraordinary music, the story as a whole I think, at least your expectation of it, is absolutely special.

Now, of course, it's also up to us and how we produce this show, but we are trying to bring it as close as possible to the value of Webber's music. We look for things that are hidden in the score and the libretto, for their true meaning, and then we put them on stage.

I like to say that the director is like a "barometer" of society, one which does two things. On the one hand, it probes the types of psycho-social needs that society manifests at a certain moment, and then it tries to translate them to the viewer.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's libretto and music contain a number of universal themes that can attract the attention of today's audiences even if the show is classical in form. We have not changed the era in which the events take place, the costumes and settings too, will be appropriate to the era in which the novel was written. Visually, the images will be classical, but the contemporary elements will show through at the level of interpretation and at the level of the debated themes; for they are the same since the beginning of time - love, developing one's artistry, the conflict between the comfortable life when you decide to put aside your calling because it is more comfortable to sit quietly at home than to fight to achieve your dreams. And when you realize that nothing comes easy in this world, and that even talent needs to be brought out and constantly pushed forward by hard work, and dedication... Also, the love between a man and a woman as well as the couples presented in "The Phantom of the Opera" are subjected to extremely contradictory experiences.

It's a show that combines elements of a psychological thriller with music that I could call, in a way, classical. That is, we will have an orchestra, conducted by Daniel Jinga, which consists of 70 musicians who will perform these very interesting compositions that we rarely have the opportunity to hear performed by such a large orchestra.

For those who want to come, open-minded, and see a show that, during its more than 35-year history, filled many halls in many theaters worldwide - important theaters, some of them also opera houses - it will not be wrong of you to come and try to understand it. I repeat, you have to be open-minded, and you have to understand that this is not necessarily a classical opera performance, but rather a musical inspired by the classical opera, a musical which has the value, in our view, of a contemporary opera.

We had the chance to work alongside Gary McCann, whom I've known for a few years now, since we worked together on "Traviata". I met him then, and I saw his professionalism which characterizes him even now in this show, which is a challenge for him too, because, as I said, it is no small thing to be offered to put "The Phantom of the Opera" on. Violeta Dinca is our choreographer, while Daniel Jinga leads the musical side. We have a close-knit team, with whom we have produced several musical shows over time, shows which have an interesting place in Romania's musicals' history. One of them is "Mamma mia!", another one "My Fair Lady". "Mamma mia!" continues to fill halls because its genre is starting to make sense in Romania. Other directors are also approaching this genre, and I think there's a chance that it will become even more popular in the future, because it manages to combine cultural value with commercial value. It manages to appeal to audiences without being culturally inferior to other similar productions.

Therefore, I think it is important now, in a time when cultural dissolution sometimes occurs, to present iconic options, shows that attract a young audience, a diverse audience, a mass audience, an audience that may have never been to a show and takes this opportunity to come and see... maybe they'll end up falling in love with the genre.

Finally, we return to Răzvan Dinca, the General Director, and I invite you to speak to our audience, in particular to our listeners from Iasi, who in a little while will join those who love quality music via our radio station.

I don't think there is a greater motivation for an audience member and for a future audience member from Iasi than to listen to Radio România Muzical because, with the help of this radio station, they can have access to elevated culture and, at the same time, I don't think that there is better opportunity for artists based in Iasi to draw parallels. I mean, when a city starts having access to a whole cultural world, a radio station such as Radio România Muzical offers options, but also conveys a kind of competitive spirit. Because the listener, someone who is part of our audience, but also goes to see opera performances, philharmonic orchestras, and other cultural events, will be able to compare much more easily what their city offers. And for the management teams, there will always be this "positive threat", that they have to perform at the level at which Radio România Muzical broadcasts. Because it's important to have new audience members, it's important to create a standard, and it's also important to have alternatives. And when we continue presenting, as we already do, great concerts from the Metropolitan or from other big theaters of the world, or of other philharmonics, in that moment, I think, they will also be motivated to raise their standards even more.

There are various cultural options in Iasi, and I believe that we will contribute even more to the enrichment of this scene, to the creation of a larger audience to consume culture in Iasi.

I also want to see the numbers, and hopefully we can make it so that the presence of Iasi listeners becomes relevant for Radio România Muzical, thus providing the drive to obtain frequencies in other important cities of Romania as well.

If everyone was able to read sheet music and compose, I believe Romania would be a better country.

Interview by Gabriel Marica
Translated by Ioana-Diana Sandu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year II
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu