History of the National Opera
The Opera and Ballet Theatre of Republic of Moldova is the pride of national musical culture. Long since, this land has been famous for its singing voices. It is very rich in gifted men whom nature has endowed with vocal ability. This country has always attracted many opera tours in past times. Many famous singers visited and performed here, such as Fyodor Shalyapin, Enrico Caruso, who conquered many admirers’ hearts. In such conditions, the idea of creating an own opera interprise had been up in the clouds at the boundary of the XIX-XXth centuries yet, getting the real art lovers’ minds, came true.
The early periods of vocal art were marked by the famous names of world opera stars. Paris and Berlin, Vena and Milan, Bucharest and Sydney, Moscow and St. Petersburg – opera stages of these cities had received, at the beginning of this century, many singers whose country was Bassarabia. The world found out then the names of L.Lipovskaya, M. Cibotari, E.Cuza, A. Antonovsky. Further – educating vocal singers in pre-war Bassarabia, openingin the middle of 40s local classes at musical high schools, performing operas by the Moldovan Musical-Dramatically Theatre – in this way opera art was set up and flourished in Moldova. In 1946, the performances of the above-mentioned opera studio of the musical-dramatically theatre became a peculiar prehistory. They are – “Evghenii Onegin”, “Madama Butterfly”, “Demon” with T.Ceban, V.Dorosh, E.Ureche, P.Esina, N.Calcatov, V.Petliuk, S.Weinstein and other’s participation.
In 1956, the first performance was acted on the independent opera slage in the Moldovian SSR. D.Gershfeld’s opera “Grozovan”, reviving historical pages of Moldovan people, became a great public event. It served as a group for the governmental Order to open the National Opera and Ballet Theatre. In such a way, the long creative work in the area of vocal art was rewarded on Moldovan land.
Thus, beginning with the opening of Opera Theatre in the middle of 50s, the continuous creative work in this domain has already numbered four decades. One can notice a permanent flow of new singers bringing with them a fresh breathing of youth, a feeling of dynamic modern life. All these years, the life of the theatre was full with enthusiasm, hard creative work, accumulation of practice, repertory as well, seeking clear decisions, successful attempts of own classical interpretation - in short, it was full with everything that could show and consolidate the results of collaboration of many generations of artists – singers and dancers, conductors and producers, of many art adherends, of that big collective whose name is THEATRE.
In spite of all difficulties of growth, ascents and falls down, alternating naturally as in any other creating process, the theatre has always lived an intensive creative life. The history of our theatre has begun in the difficult post-war period, when Moldova, recalling to life, was curing its injury after the invasion. The very first steps of the opened Opera Theatre were impetuous and fruitful. At those years performances, the spectators could need then young singers as V. Savitskaya, F. Kuzmin, P. Botezat, B. Raisov, A. Fomenco, N. Bashkatov, V. Tretyak.
The beginning of the 60s was the boundaring stage in the life of the theatre. First of all, a new young generation joined the theatre company, one of which was the young graduate of the local conservatory Maria Bieshu. Assuredly speaking, since then till now the theatre, in spite of natural dynamic change of generations, has been performing under the influence of this excellent singer’s great talent. Annual international festival “Maria Bieshu invites”, gathering many world-known artists on this land, largely makes famous the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Moldova. The theatre is also truly proud of other great singers who are bringing it a deserved glory. T. Alyoshina, L. Erofeeva, M. Munteanu, V. Drahosh, I. Paulencu are among them. Many different characters were performed in their parts by B. Raisov, I. Gheyl, S. Alexandrov, A. Jarikov, L. Mihailova, E. Parniki, A. Shevcenko. Now other talented singers are performing on the stage of our theatre. Among them we may notice the following experienced artists, such as L. Aga, V. Calestru, I. Cvasniuc, B. Materinco, A. Arcea, N. Covaliov, A. Donos. The creating youth is worthy mentioned here: E. Gherman, E. Gudz, A. Buruiana, N. Kurbatova, P. Racovita, V. Cojocaru, V. Ciresh, N. Busuioc, O. Kobzeva, B. Ganzel, T. Busuioc and others.
The last years performances have been very impressive. The theatre has got an ample repertory. Theatre play “Duanya” by S. Prokofiev and “Bell” by G. Donizetti, severe tragical picture of “Norma” by V. Bellini, frenzy passion of “Rustic Cavalry” by P. Mascagni, playful intrigues in “The wedding of Figaro” by W.A. Mozart – through all these the artists try to embody truly men characters and life circumstances by playing them in different ways.
Everything is performed with the help of experienced conductors and producers. A great contribution has been brought in the work of this group by the conductors M. Shepper, I. Alterman, L. Hudoley. Many pages of our theatre life are connected with the names of L. Gavrilov, B. Miliutin, A. Mocealov, M. Enaki. Recently, a new generation of conductor has joined the theatre company, who has greatly revived its work. They are: A. Samoila, A. Gershfeld, M. Sechkin, I. Florea, N. Dohotaru.
It is well-known that a firm basis of rich theatre performances is done by the conductor’s labour, whose personality determines the manner of playing. The Moldovan conductor’s works are well-known far away from the native theatre. Working here now E. Platon, E. Konstantin, M. Timofti (the graduates of Leningrad Producers High School) are using on the Moldovan stage the creative principles of leading producers well-known all over the world, such as Boris Fizenstein, B. Pokrovsky. Our conductors also aim, as E.Konstantinova says, to train the singer-actor as they did. The Moldovan master’s performing conceptions show good knowledge of world theatre modern experience, aspiration to keep in step with time.
The Opera Theatre of Moldova became known because of a great number of performances repeadly mentioned by public option, awarded different prizes at prestigious competitions.
In the repertory bill of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre, an Italian classic has the main place among foreign operas. Having been performed on Moldovan stage Bellini and Rossini, Verdi and Puccini, Leoncavallo and Mascagni’s characters have been a good material for our group’s creative work for many years.
Maria Bieshu touching Aida and majestic Norma, seized by revenge Tamara Alyoshina’s tragic Asucena, Ludmila Yerofeeva’s delicate Gilda, Mihail Munteanu’s brave Calaf and courageous Radames, Boris Raisov’s unhappy, deceived Rigoletto, Vladimir Dragosh’s heroic Count di Lunaand Boris Materinco’s cruel Scarpia – all these remembering characters played by the masters of different generations can be continued further.
Some artists of our theatre worked on probation in the famous theatre La Scala, where the teachers invariably mentioned that the Moldovan singer’s voices correspond to Italian bell canto. Evghenii Platon , the leading producer of our theatre, explains this attraction towards Italian repertory in his own way: “Elevated emotionality, sincere opening of Italian music, its heartiness are related to artistic temperament of Moldovan artists”. Evidently, because of this, Maria Bieshu’s debut in “Tosca” is also connected with Italian Art, as well as her remarkable triumph at the international competition in Tokyo, which brought this excellent singer the name of the best Cio-Cio-San. Thanks to Maria Bieshu’s creative search, many Italian operas have found their staging life in Moldova. For example, in such a way “Norma” by V.Bellini and “Turandot” by G.Puccini were staged. The performances of “Adriana Lecouvreur” by F.Cilea and “Don Carlos” by G.Verdi have become the summit in mastering the Italian classical opera.
The artistic leaders of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre’s attitude is unanimous that none opera theatre can develop without Russian music. The repertory bill of last years has been decorated with operas by P.Tchaikovsky, N.Rimsky-Korsakov, A.Borodin, P.Musorgsky, S.Rahmaninov.
One of the main aspects of its activity is the creative contracts with local authors. As a result, we have staged many performances of different genre. The theatre worked out historical performances, such as “Petru Raresh” by E.Caudella, “Grozovan” and “Serghei Lazo” by D.Gershfeld, “Domnica’s heart” by A.Stircea, “Alexandru Lapusneanu” by G.Mustea, the ballet “Luceafarul” by E.Doga, “Andries” by Z.Tcaci.
The maturity of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre, which enjoys rich own traditions, is shown in its various activities, mainly of creative research. The theatre group pays great attention to experimental, courageous projects. Side by side with opera performances, many masterpieces, such as “Requiem” by G.Verdi, “Carmina Burana” by C.Orff, “Stabat Mater” by G.Rossini, appeared in the theatre repertory and when are played in big concert music-halls are enthusiastically received by the audience. Theatre artists often perform with concert programs. Many such programs were performed in different towns by Maria Bieshu, M.Munteanu, S.Strezeva, V.Dragosh, I.Paulencu, E.Gherman, P.Racovitsa. Many of opera and ballet artists have been awarded the highest ranks and merits.
The dynamic modern life is dictating new forms and realities in the life and activity of the opera theatre. Lately, our theatre has been touring much abroad. Visiting theatre impresario “refers” to a certain, concrete repertory. Thus, one or another performance finds itself as “departing”. In such a way, the stages of many countries have seen our operas and ballets: Italy, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, etc. This new kind of activity makes the theatre to improve its repertory. So, the opera “Nabucco” by G.Verdi appeared in its repertory.
At present, the theatre is going with its intensive creative work, taking into consideration the prospect of its increase. By touring abroad, by its aspiration to stabile what was reached, by using each artist’s potential and by renewing the company, the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Moldova has gained the merit to join the world of big art.