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Life in the old tiger

In the second of two articles
about the Chisinau National Opera,
Moldovan tenor Mihai Muntean
talks to RODERIC DUNNETT

 

<< Read the feature from the beginning

One head start Romanian-speaking Moldovan singers, like their Romanian counterparts, have is an affinity for the (similarly Latin-based) Italian language. In Chisinau, the capital (the former USSR city of Kishinev) Italian repertoire -- Verdi, Bellini, Puccini -- still takes pride of place. A new Macbeth is in the offing. For a country keen to distance itself from a Soviet past in which even La Bohème was sung in Russian, the word opera almost invariably means Italian.

Currently the Chisinau National Opera keep just two Russian operas in repertory (Tchaikovsky's Yevgeny Onegin and The Queen of Spades), preferring, as their General Manager, the fluent Russian-speaking Mihai Cocieru explains, to leave Russian repertoire to Moscow, St Petersburg and Kiev, and, to Chisinau's neighbouring city, Crimean Odessa.

Mihai Muntean in 'Un Ballo in Maschera' for Constanta Opera, Romania. Photo © Dumitru Ardea
Mihai Muntean in 'Un Ballo in Maschera' for Constanta Opera, Romania. Photo © Dumitru Ardea

But there is occasional novelty in the Chisinau repertoire : on the ballet side, for instance, a brand new work (Casanova) employing a mixture of music by Gubaidulina, Schnittke and others, may shortly break the mould. Even Romanian opera gets relatively short shrift (Enescu's Oedipe is, surprisingly, not a staple); but a fine historical opera, Alexandru Lapusneanu, by Moldovan conductor Gheorghe Mustea, with more than a hint of Impressionist and early 20th century influences, made an impression at its première and hovers in the wings, though is (mistakenly) not much revived or toured.

The 2001 Chisinau National Opera production of Bizet's 'Carmen'
The 2001 Chisinau National Opera production of Bizet's 'Carmen'

 

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Copyright © 6 October 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

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