Bucharest crisis: Angela Gheorghiu speaks out

The country’s leading soprano has jumped into the row in which Johan Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru have been forced out of the national opera. It’s not clear which side she backs:
“Imi doresc si fac atenti pe toti organizatorii de festivaluri, concerte si directori de institutii artistice din Romania ca mai intai artistii romani sa fie respectati in tara lor, asa cum tara lor respecta, intotdeauna, artistii straini invitati si care sunt de aceeasi mare valoare ca si noi, practica valabila in toate tarile cu traditii culturale in toata lumea.

“I would like to make sure they understand all the festivals and concert promoters, and also the managers of the artistic institutions from Romania, that in the first place, the Romanian artists have to be respected in their own country, forever, [with the same respect they receive] the foreign guest artists which have the same great value as we have, which is a common practice in all the countries with cultural traditions from all over the world.

angela gheorgiu

Rather less ambiguous is a statement by Ileana Iliescu, former darling of Romanian Ballet:

 

“Ce a ajuns astăzi compania noastră de balet, condusă de un străin, danezeul Johan Kobborg, cel care impune balerinilor să vorbească engleză, el refuzând limba țării în care „lucrează”?

 

‘Where it is now our ballet company, leaded by a foreign citizen, the Danish Johan Kobborg, the one who impose the dancers to speak in English, as he refuses to speak the language of the country where he works?’

 

UPDATE: We credited Ms Gheorghiu with too much ambiguity. Her Facebook post places her firmly behind the nationalist reformers:

Angela Gheorghiu sustine reformarea Operei Nationale Bucuresti sub noua sa conducere

Urmaresc de mai multe zile cu stupoare, ingrijorare, dar si cu mare speranta evenimentele de la Opera Nationala Bucuresti. Impreuna cu colegi romani din tara si din strainatate ne-am alaturat maestrului Tiberiu Soare si am salutat numirea sa la conducerea operei bucurestene. Am sperat ca, in fine – dupa multe decenii de dezolare – ar putea veni si momentul reformei pentru o institutie care trebuie sa redevina prima scena lirica a tarii.
De atunci, insa, sunt si suntem uimiti ca, in loc sa punem cu totii, de indata, umarul la proiectul atat de necesar de reintrare a Operei intr-un cadru legal si artistic de normalitate, asistam la sicane si boicoturi.
Am rugat foarte mult pe Presedintele Romaniei, domnul Klaus Iohannis, pe Primul Ministru, domnul Dacian Ciolos si pe Ministrul Culturii, domnul Vlad Alexandrescu sa analizeze cu mare atentie neregulile petrecute pana acum sub precedentele conduceri ale Operei Nationale Bucuresti si sa asigure conditiile in care institutia sa poata reveni la legalitate.
Artistii nu trebuie sa ceara sau, si mai grav, sa-si asume titluri inexistente, ci sa demonstreze cu intelepciune si tact tot ce sunt capabili sa faca cu talentul lor, mai ales in aceasta perioada dificila. Asteptam cu totii, de 26 de ani, o echipa artistica si manageriala inteligenta si cu dragoste fata de publicul din Romania, dar mai ales pentru toti artistii Operei si Operetei, doua institutii care trebuie sa renasca, fiecare in traditia si in teritoriul ei.
Sunt sigura ca Maestrul Tiberiu Soare, cu care am colaborat in Romania si in strainatate cu un succes real, ne va face pe toti artistii lirici, cei ce locuiesc in Romania sau in strainatate, sa ne unim si sa dorim sa ne reintoarcem deseori la Bucuresti, pe scena Operei Romane. Personal, visez la inca un ‘debut’ in cariera mea, pe scena Operei din Bucuresti, pe prima scena a tarii mele, unde pana acum nu am cantat niciodata o opera.
Indemn pe toti artistii romani, muzicieni si balerini, sa se reintoarca cu inima si talentul lor, in tara. Imi doresc si fac atenti pe toti organizatorii de festivaluri, concerte si directori de institutii artistice din Romania ca mai intai artistii romani sa fie respectati in tara lor, asa cum tara lor respecta, intotdeauna, artistii straini invitati si care sunt de aceeasi mare valoare ca si noi, practica valabila in toate tarile cu traditii culturale in toata lumea.

Romania este una dintre acele natii creative, ce au dat nume emblematice in cultura internationala, fapt dovedit si recunoscut pe plan mondial de peste o suta de ani. Abia astept sa ne revedem pentru o mare gala la Opera Romana din Bucuresti!

ANGELA GHEORGHIU

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  • I always thought Angela Gheorgiu was a dumb moronic bitch. This letter really proves it.

    Let her go back home to her native land to sing. She is not wanted in Europe.

    • for Eddie Mars:
      First of all, shame on you for talking like this.
      You are so rude and ignorant and I’m sure you didn’t understand anything about the actual situation or her statement at all..

      Second of all, Europe absolutely loves her! That’s why she is invited to sing so much here and we are privileged to listen to her! We love and adore her! She is from another league!

      For the author of the article: Johan Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru were not forced at all to leave the national opera. It was completely their decision!

    • It’s odd that not so long ago you were accusing people who disliked Katie Mitchell’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor, or even who merely thought that the sex and violence warning should have been issued before tickets went on sale, of being misogynists. Now you are using highly offensive language to talk about Angela Gheorghiu. Do you not think that this is rather inconsistent?

  • Well, if Google translate is to be believed (I do not have the linguistic confidence you and NL seem to imply) that’s what she wants to do! And to gather all the other Romanian artists from around the world to join her in celebrating and being celebrated in their native land. Apparently, she has never sung an opera there, as there is no opera company.

    Well, there’s a project for her: she could found one, and with all the great Romanian opera singers circulated throughout the globe (being welcomed where nationalism is not so rife and narrow), and all the unheralded homegrown talent that has not yet graced the stages of the Met or La Scala or Covent Garden, she could open with…oh, maybe Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine! (IF she could bring herself to use a composer who is not Romanian, otherwise I guess it’s Nicolae Bretan, and maybe The Golem, which has a small cast.

    • The only Romanian-language opera I have seen is O noapte furtunoasă by Paul Constantinescu. Certainly it is in the repertoire of the ONB.

    • This is the translation of Angela Gheorghiu’s statement. (It was translated by a Romanian friend of mine.)

      “Angela Gheorghiu sustains the reformation of ONB under its new leadership.

      For several days I have been watching with amazement, concern and with great hope the events at the Bucharest National Opera. Together with fellow Romanians in Romania and abroad we welcomed maestro Tiberiu Soare and his appointment to lead the work in Bucharest. We hoped that finally – after decades of desolation – there could come a time for reforming an institution that should return as the country’s first lyric stage.

      Since then, however, we are amazed that, instead of immediately sustaining a much-needed re-entry of the national opera in a legal and artistic normality, we are witnessing chicanes and boycotts.

      I asked the President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Johannis, the Prime Minister, Mr. Dacian Ciolos and the Minister of Culture, Mr Vlad Alexandrescu to carefully analyze the irregularities occurred in previous leaderships of ONB and provide conditions in which the institution can return to legality.

      Artists do not have to ask or, worse, assume nonexistent titles, but to demonstrate with wisdom and tact that they are able to do everything with their talent, especially in this difficult period. We have been waiting for 26 years for an intelligent artistic and managerial team, with love for the Romanian public, but mostly for all the artists of the opera and operetta, two institutions that need to reborn, each with its own tradition and in its territory.

      I’m sure maestro Tiberiu Soare, with whom I worked in Romania and abroad with real success, will unite all the lyrical artists, those living in Romania or abroad, and make us want to come back more often to Bucharest, on the stage of the national opera. Personally, I dream of another ‘debut’ in my career, at the National Opera of Bucharest, on the first stage of my country, where I’ve never sang in an opera.

      I urge all Romanian artists, musicians and dancers, to return with heart and talent in the country. I wish and make aware all the organizers of festivals, concerts and directors of art institutions in Romania that Romanian artists should first be respected in their country as the country always respects foreign artists, that are of the same great value as we are, an aspect that is valid in all countries with cultural traditions, worldwide.

      Romania is one of those creative nations that gave emblematic names in the international culture, proven and recognized worldwide for over a hundred years. I cannot wait to see you again for a gala at the Romanian Opera in Bucharest!

      Angela Gheorghiu”

  • If the ballet company is international, as it appears to be, English is probably the language that the dancers have in common.
    To make them all learn Romanian is a provincial attitude indeed and hints at a worse situation to come; the kicking out of foreign workers. is there a nationalistic movement mounting in Romania or is this an isolated incident?

    • “To make them all learn Romanian is a provincial attitude indeed…”

      I agree but will also say that while it is not quite the same, there are many orchestras for example that require or ‘strongly advise’ musicians on trial to learn German/French/Dutch/Italian/etc. and it is not at all unheard of that lacking linguistic progress can contribute to a negative outcome of a trial-phase.

    • +1

      And of course Kobborg himself is a Dane, so English isn’t his home language either.

      It’s all absolute tosh, of course. For major productions in major opera houses, English is the norm for everyone. In Munich just recently, German-speaking and Russian-speaking directors and production staff all worked in English, because “it’s what works”. I didn’t see any outraged Germans picketing the stage door!

      This is just about second-raters playing the nationalist card, with the intention of ousting the good performers, choreographers and conductors by dint of nationality alone :((

  • Tiberiu Soare, the interim deputy director of the national opera: “Johan Kobborg was using the national opera company for personal purposes and, more importantly, he represented the opera in relation to third parties, using a fictitious, invented title.” He states that money disappeared from a charity event held in New York: “They said they go there to raise funds for these ballet premieres. Needless to say that the money did not come in any record of ONB or the ministry of culture.”

    Cristina Cotescu, stage director: “The foreign members of the ballet are payed triple compared to the Romanians. When Kobborg came, only foreigners received new, special ballet shoes.”

  • So it wasn’t you calling Ms Gheorghiu “a dumb moronic bitch”? That is good to know. But I for one have no idea who it is who has been posting under your usual name.

    • I’m not sure: the original ‘dumb moronic bitch’ comment was posted well before this confusion. Besides, I think most Slipped Disc readers are under the assumption ‘Eddie Mars’ is some kind of parody account rather than a genuine poster.

      • I have always assumed that Milka is SD’s resident parodist and that Eddie Mars is a genuine contributor with a certain ideological perspective who is sometimes a little over-enthusiastic in his critiques. If Eddie Mars does turn out to be another parodist (or if Milka is a genuine contributor) that would be rather interesting.

  • Interesting that someone is deleting valid comments on this topic but chooses to leave the rude and offensive ones..

  • Sorry, my bad, I had a problem connecting to the site before.
    This is a translation of Angela Gheorghiu’s statement translated by a Romanian friend (NOT by google translate:) )

    “Angela Gheorghiu sustains the reformation of ONB under its new leadership.

    For several days I have been watching with amazement, concern and with great hope the events at the Bucharest National Opera. Together with fellow Romanians in Romania and abroad we welcomed maestro Tiberiu Soare and his appointment to lead the work in Bucharest. We hoped that finally – after decades of desolation – there could come a time for reforming an institution that should return as the country’s first lyric stage.

    Since then, however, we are amazed that, instead of immediately sustaining a much-needed re-entry of the national opera in a legal and artistic normality, we are witnessing chicanes and boycotts.

    I asked the President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Johannis, the Prime Minister, Mr. Dacian Ciolos and the Minister of Culture, Mr Vlad Alexandrescu to carefully analyze the irregularities occurred in previous leaderships of ONB and provide conditions in which the institution can return to legality.

    Artists do not have to ask or, worse, assume nonexistent titles, but to demonstrate with wisdom and tact that they are able to do everything with their talent, especially in this difficult period. We have been waiting for 26 years for an intelligent artistic and managerial team, with love for the Romanian public, but mostly for all the artists of the opera and operetta, two institutions that need to reborn, each with its own tradition and in its territory.

    I’m sure maestro Tiberiu Soare, with whom I worked in Romania and abroad with real success, will unite all the lyrical artists, those living in Romania or abroad, and make us want to come back more often to Bucharest, on the stage of the national opera. Personally, I dream of another ‘debut’ in my career, at the National Opera of Bucharest, on the first stage of my country, where I’ve never sang in an opera.

    I urge all Romanian artists, musicians and dancers, to return with heart and talent in the country. I wish and make aware all the organizers of festivals, concerts and directors of art institutions in Romania that Romanian artists should first be respected in their country as the country always respects foreign artists, that are of the same great value as we are, an aspect that is valid in all countries with cultural traditions, worldwide.

    Romania is one of those creative nations that gave emblematic names in the international culture, proven and recognized worldwide for over a hundred years. I cannot wait to see you again for a gala at the Romanian Opera in Bucharest!

    Angela Gheorghiu”

  • Regarding the comment: “Let her go back home to her native land to sing. She is not wanted in Europe” —- it should be noted that Romania IS in Europe. Romania is the seventh most populous country in the European Union and its capital, Bucharest, is the sixth largest city in the European Union.

  • Though Romanian, I am not an admirer of Ms. Angela Burlacu. One freely acknowledges her international career, based on a certain dearth of singers during recent decades, and on her ability to use tabloid sensationalism to her own advantage, but she wasn’t singing that great even when she was young, many decades ago, and still had a voice.

    During the times of real singers, she wouldn’t have been hired as Auber’s The Mute Girl of Portici. Too loud and wobbly, you know. Incapable of playing the “muette”. The level of technique and professionalism she is demonstrating nowadays borders though on the lamentable. Her alleged vibrato on the high B Flat in Vissi d’arte, recently in Vienna, covers the entire space between A Flat and C Sharp, between Albania and Ukraine, with Transylvania thrown in “pour la bonne bouche”. When it comes to Ms. Angela Burlacu’s temperament and character, the less said the better – which leaves much unsaid, but life is short.

    Angela Burlacu’s intervention in the “Romanian crisis” is based purely on her cozy relationship with Mr. Tiberiu Soare, the undermediocre conductor who tried to get rid of the “competition” of his compatibly mediocre wife, who couldn hardly get roles based on her own merits.

    Mr. Soare is the metaphorical (less violent) equivalent of Pavel V. Dmitrichenko, of the (in)famous Sergei Filin Bolshoi tragedy. Trying to make space for his underperforming wife, “by all means necessary”.

    That Ms. Burlacu (she appropriated the distinguished name Gheorghiu without any good reason, as once she used the social opportunism potential afforded by that esteemed name she abandoned with no scruple that noble family of truly great musicians) poses as a great patriot now is beyond ridiculous. She did nothing for Romania, as she is an all-encompassing narcissist with no concerns beyond self-aggrandizing.

    Neither Johan Kobborg nor Alina Cojocaru, artists in their prime, need to spend one more precious minute of their creative lives dwelling on the frustrations of Soare’s wife or of declining Angela Burlacu, now in her sixth decade of her entirely self-loving life.

    Best of luck to them – please go where you are appreciated and rebuild a wonderful life for yourselves and for your grateful audiences. Leave the dirt behind.

  • A few months ago, there was a long interview of Angela Gheorghiu in a French music magazine (Diapason I think…). She did not strike me as very informed to say things diplomatically.

  • Some years ago I was involved in developing a cultural project (not music related but bear with me) in central Europe. The working language was proposed to be, as in many international organisations, English.

    It turned out that a key decision maker was an advisor to some bishops, who had a criminal past and not much English. He killed the project as, in his words, “Doing this in English will make it provincial”. I moved on.

    Incidentally, does ballet in Rumanian look any different to ballet in English?

  • Ileana Iliescu does not speak Romanian?

    In Romanian language a Danish man is danezul not “danezeul” !

    Jesus Christ…..

  • Anyone who blame Romanians and the ONB must remember that Kobborg and Cojocaru left Royal Opera House on a short notice, with no explanation given for their departure. Why did they leave ? Yet nobody made a song and a dance about the couple leaving. Cojocaru then went to ENO and she didn’t last long there either. Again, why? They went to ONB because probably they did not have a better offer.

    The New York Times has confirmed that Kobborg was not fired by xenophobes but resigned after a spar with the new interim management. He resigned then he wanted the job back, by making an international scandal and bringing ONB into disrepute. Many people in Romania who could have supported Kobborg and Cojocaru, now have turned against them for playing the xenophobic victim card and putting ONB in the middle of an international scandal. If Kobborg is so sought after, why did he not quietly go into a much prestigious place? I much suspect he doesn’t have any better offer. As for Cojocaru, she is way past her prime at 35, so I don’t think she has many offers either.

    Romanian ballet did not start with Kobborg and won’t end with him.

    • Unfortunately, you’re incorrect. Alina Cojocaru is still a principal with the English National Ballet – not ENO, like you say: http://www.ballet.org.uk/the-company/dancers/. Kobborg will take some time off but will have better offers.

      Romanian ballet indeed did not start with Kobborg, but once he’s leaving it will go back to its mediocrity of the last 30-40 years. A few stary world class dancers and coreographers (Cojocaru, Gheorghe Iancu, Simona Noja, Gigi Caciuleanu) opted for a career outside the country. Floria Capsali is spinning in her graves.

  • if you work in another country than your own it’s a matter of decency that you can speak the language of your employer indeed…..

  • So I just found out Johan Kobborg had a salary at the romanian national opera…wait for it…of 7307 euros/month (!!!!) (yes, I said 7 thousand, three hundred and seven euros!!)
    The national opera is a public institution so therefore this is public money..While foreign ballet members were gaining around 2000 euros/month, Romanian ballet members had a salary of only about 500 euros! Does anyone think this is normal?!

    This is mindblowing! Also, I understood the ballet of the national opera in Bucharest took part in a charity gala (organized in New York) to benefit future productions. However, no money was declared at the ministry of culture or at the national opera…

    Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru should be ashamed of themselves, acting like this and creating this scandal, posing in victims and manipulating the press! They asked for it. Sad thing is that there was a time when I really admired them!

    This is an article written in Romanian explaining the situtation of Kobborgs salary:

    http://www.ziaristionline.ro/2015/03/23/un-balerin-cu-tupeu-johan-kobborg-ne-ameninta-ca-ne-da-in-judecata-pentru-ca-i-am-publicat-contractul-cu-opera-romana-de-7-307-euroluna-din-banii-nostri/

    • The nationalistic thing is exagerated , some isolated shouts by some not bright minds. As for Tiberiu Soare, he did spoke in english with them, another ballerina smeared him that he didn’t wanted to do it. No one wants |Kobborg to go, they don’t want the previous (and most likely corrupt) management.

    • I too was surprised by the difference in salary but Alina explained it in an interview. The Romanian dancers are paid for 12 months, the foreigners for 10. On top of their salary, the Romanian dancers receive free rent, medical insurance etc. while the foreigners get none of this. I’m not sure why it’s set up this way, but it turns out it comes out pretty evenly. Kobborg’s salary seems high, but it’s a free market and more importantly an international market nowadays. It’s such a shame that this mess is happening over money.

  • And it’s so interesting that the most vocal acuser of Tiberiu Soare is directly payed by the former direction, as a photo with his paycheck went viral. The truth is complex, Kobborg is commiting professional suicide.

  • Really? And former economic direction is convicted of fraud or you talk just to gossip? Try not to be concerned about Kobborg`s career look instead if Soare has any conductor baton or musical skill left.

    • Thank you for your concern, yes, he has musical skill left, and a baton as well. I’ll pass the word to him that you inquired, Mr…..mmm?
      The former management is allegedly corrupt, under investigation, no sentence yet.
      But the conflict of interest of Alexandru Patrascu, the despre opera blogger, is certain:
      http://www.101reporteri.ro/criticul-de-opera-alexandru-patrascu-si-contractul-semnat-cu-onb/
      He did not had the wit or courage to disclose the contract before he begun his smearing campaign adresse to people he highly praised months before. Himself says about Tib Soare the most laudative things.

      • I am sorry I do not understand? Do you mean that this man wrote a contract to praise the former management? The corrupted one? Really strange for such an institution but you never know what democracy does to people .

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