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<<  -- 4 --  Roderic Dunnett    MOUTHS TO FEED

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Cocieru runs a tight ship, but is a visibly hands-on boss, who has a close and supportive relationship with his singers. Occasionally there are crises : one lovelorn Turandot (of considerable talent) flounced off in mid-tour to Moscow two seasons ago in classic Prima Donna style; but other talent was there to fill the gap.

Nicolae Covaliev as Antonio the gardener in 'The Marriage of Figaro'
Nicolae Covaliev as Antonio the gardener in 'The Marriage of Figaro'

Between 60 and 65% of his company, Cocieru explains, are Romanian-speaking. Romanian is the first language of Moldova, and Russian second. There is a large Russian-speaking majority still in Chisinau, but Moldovans' true affiliation is Romanian-leaning, as the name of their main boulevard, Stefan cel Mare -- 'Stephen the Great', the 15th Century monarch who ruled both modern Moldova, which the early 20th century knew as Bessarabia, and picturesque north-east Romanian Moldavia with its elaborately painted monasteries -- bears witness.

A detail from one of Moldavia's painted monasteries. Photo: Keith Bramich
A detail from one of Moldavia's painted monasteries. Photo: Keith Bramich

Despite the linguistic and cultural links, modern Moldova (which in an about-turn actually now has a former Soviet communist, Voronin, as President; culture might benefit) shows itself little inclined to seek any kind of union with even modern post-Communist, part-democratised Romania, which made tentative overtures in the Nineties.

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Copyright © 5 September 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Bath, UK

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