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True, some of these visits could benefit from being more bold with productions and directors : one can just imagine what a Richard Jones or Peter Sellars could achieve directing the likes of Mihai Munteanu, Elena Gherman, Boris Materinco or Natalia Yutesh -- singers who could uplift a Cardiff or Leeds production. Who will be Moldova's Wozzeck (a role that, like Pizarro, would have suited Munteanu, had he been a baritone, to the letter) or Dr Schon (ready made for Racovita or Materinco)?

Elena Gherman as Musetta in the Chisinau production of Puccini's 'Bohème'
Elena Gherman as Musetta in the Chisinau production of Puccini's 'Bohème'

It's also a disappointment for UK audiences that -- Tchaikovsky aside -- they largely eschew Russian repertoire. Soviet memories, after all, are not exactly all positive -- yet an Ivan Susanin, a Khovanshchina, a Dargomizhky Stone Guest, any amount of Rimsky-Korsakov, a Prokofiev, Rachmaninov or even Shostakovich opera they would surely carry off impressively.

Mihai Cocieru is well known in the UK as the man who has fronted Chisinau's tours since 1994 (soon after the very brief civil war that rocked Moldova's new-found independence and severed the industry-rich province of Transdniestria, which still seeks at best a federal-type independence), painstakingly supplying the backroom work and competent cast management that makes for smooth touring. Cocieru has deservedly been newly-promoted Chisinau's Opera House General Director, and takes pleasure in the fact that he is exactly the same age as the present opera house.

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Copyright © 5 September 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Bath, UK


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