Chaos in Romania as Culture Minister is sacked

Chaos in Romania as Culture Minister is sacked


norman lebrecht

April 28, 2016

The capable and popular Minister of Culture Vlad Alexandrescu, has been sacked by the prime minister over the ongoing battle between xenophobes and foreigners at Bucharest National Opera.

‘The best Minister of Culture Romania has been blessed with in decades,’ according to one close observer, Vlad had been carving throught legacies of favouritism and corruption in the arts and has paid the price for his diligence.

The president of Romania, Klaus Iohanis, said: ‘There are only few imaginable mistakes that were not made yet by the minister of culture in the ONB scandal.’

Vlad’s supporters are out on the streets.

vlad petr

Meanwhile, 450 anti-foreigner members of ONB have issued the following release:

The press campaign which denigrates NOB employees, accusing them of xenophobia is a campaign that distorts the truth.
Following research carried out among employees NOB demonstrated with audio-video evidence and witnesses, the cry considered xenophobic belonged to one person, male. The remaining employees declare that strongly distance ourselves from this unique person.
Media scandal created around the couple-Johan Kobborg Alina Cojocaru is a diversion intended to mislead public opinion and distract attention from the serious problems existing in Opera: abuses, discrimination, illegal activity, fraud.
NOB employees are attacked in the press precisely because they want to bring to light the truth and return the institution to legality and morality.
Please note that no operating system NOB brought our institution in this impossible situation, but disastrous management team’s Răzvan-Ioan Dincă, currently under criminal trial.
We ask insistently DNA (national anti-coruption agency – p.n.) to investigate urgently the economic and financial situation of the Bucharest National Opera.
We also believe that the statements of Mr. Ioan Holender is a defamation of employees NOB and an attempt to destabilize the national culture. We call on all operas and philharmonic orchestras of Romania to join our campaign to preserve tradition and national value and eradicate abuse and fraud in the current cultural system.
Specify in this way, we grieve the resignation of Mr Vlad Alexandrescu from the Minister of Culture. We believe that His Excellency has done a tremendously important and correct move when he called the Masters Vlad Conta and Tiberiu Soare to lead NOB. Moreover, under the leadership of this team of professionals, we are convinced that the Bucharest National Opera would have benefited from a functioning modern, European, which we have never opposed.
We oppose only the illegality, fraud and abuse!



  • almaviva says:

    Can someone explain how is it possible that this sinister ‘maestro’ Soare – who until recently was unemployed (is not even on the roster of conductors) – has styled himself the leader of this protest and now demands that he be instated director? Everyone knows how he came to be appointed as director initially: the former culture minister’s advisor, one Rares Zaharia (a Soare associate), strongly pushed for Calin to be fired and for Soare to be appointed in his stead. But how is it possible that a total non-entity like this ‘maestro’ and a relative new-comer was allowed to become the de-facto leader of this protest movement? Why him exactly? What experience or qualifications does he REALLY have to lead this institution? What (dark) forces are truly behind him?

    • Monica Balasoiu says:

      Mr Almaviva:

      Born in Bucharest, Tiberiu Soare is a graduate of two of the Faculties of the National University of Music in Bucharest: conducting – class of Ludovic Ludovic Bács and Petru Andriesei and the musical performance – tuba – class of Reader Univ. Ion Popescu.

      Then he improved himself when he did advanced studies in conducting an orchestra with Horia Andreescu and attended master classes held by conductors Alain Paris and Adrian Sunshine.
      The artist has been a conductor since 1999, his performances getting both applause and the specialist critics’ and collaborators’ unanimous praise.

      He conducted orchestras for numerous philharmonics and operas in the country, going on tours in Hungary, Israel, Poland, China, Germany and Switzerland. He collaborated with prestigious artists such as Angela Gheorghiu, Eduard Tumagian, Viniciu Moroianu, Alexandre Dubach, Daniel Kientzy, Pompeiu Hărăşteanu, Marin Cazacu, Alexandru Tomescu, Horia Mihail, Răzvan Suma, Mihaela Martin, Nobuko Imai, Alina Cojocaru, Daniel Magdal, Felicia Filip, Ophelie Galliard, Teodora Gheorghiu and many others.

      Tiberiu Soare has been invited by important cultural institutions in the country, performing on tours and concerts in Switzerland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Hungary, Germany, China and Israel. Together with the National Radio Orchestra, Tiberiu Soare attended the Shanghai World Expo (2010) and was invited to important festivals such as Varna Summer Fest (2011), Shanghai Spring International Music Festival as well as Balchik Classic Days (2013), World Summit on Media for Children – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2014).
      In 2013 and 2014, soprano Angela Gheorghiu, conductor Tiberiu Soare and the National Radio Orchestra launched two albums with Romanian and international carols under the Mediapro Music label. Other recent recordings with the National Radio Orchestra (Casa Radio Publishing House) are the Second Symphony by Enescu (2014) and Manfred Symphony by Tchaikosvksy (2015).

      Tiberiu Soare has been a conductor of the Bucharest National Opera (from 2007 to 2012) and principal conductor of the Romanian Radio Orchestras and Choirs (from 2012 to 2015). He has conducted such prestigious orchestras as Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Prague Radio Orchestra. He has collaborated with soprano Angela Gheorghiu in a series of concerts in Prague, Munich, Paris (Opéra Royal de Versailles) and Vienna (Konzerthaus).

  • Holly Golightly says:

    If you’d written “Chaos in Romania” that would have been enough. Then you’d be talking about half of Europe nowadays.

  • Mihail Ghiga says:

    Dear Mr. Lebrecht.
    First, I want to thank you for showing both the news and the opera communicate.
    I will come back tommorrow with some excellent information on the (dark) forces behind Tiberiu Soare. It’s not the siths, I can tell Almaviva for now. It is a hard day’s night. Us, normal people, we had concerts today, it’s Good Thursday here and it’s usual to have Easter events all over. Darth Soare (a little pun, as that would mean Dark Sun) aswell, he had a gig with the young orchestra he conducted for a few years for free, to help them develop (fact which I supose will be eagerly attacked soon by the former Opera management fans). I will not reply to the comments above because I have enough of replying to weight shaming and other ugly stuff.
    They have a lot of energy, I can give them that, although not a lot of imagination. They remembered me the Cyrano de Bergerac scene when he’s insulted in a vulgar and dense manner and he answer with… well, I leave them read the piece. It’s about a guy with a big nose, and it’s not Pinocchio.

  • Tosca says:

    It is very strange how Mr Soare was appointed orchestra conductor also as usually such position should be advertised properly. There are many other conductors who deserve the chance to apply to the job. The fact that Soprano Angela Gheorghiu helped Soare to conduct abroad doesn’t mean Soare should be appointed conductor or director for ONB. But maybe because he is a second hand musician he’s actually proving that he also has no character. You can’t compare Alina Cojocaru to T.Soare but there are a few soloists who keep the scandal alive on Facebook or newspapers (hoping that Soare will write their names down and they will sing all the available roles in the future). Disgusting.

  • Alina Rotaru says:

    Alright Mihail, say no more! See you later at the Black Mass 😉

  • Mihail Ghiga says:

    To stay positive. I’d like to share with you this nice words about Tiberiu Soare, stated by the same blogger who now calls him a communist miner, mediocre stalinist, and so on. I quote:
    Top 4 moments in 2014: Tiberiu Soare, with Shostakovich 7th, Leningrad.
    A conductor in a day of grace, whose temperement met a symphonic hurricane. Result: a visceral emotion.
    He also credits him to be electrifying, list what cd’s he listens, and I could go on.
    So, from this
    to this, almost instantly.

    I find it really strange.

  • Mihail Ghiga says:

    I promised yesterday that I’ll “expose” some of the forces behind TIberiu Soare. Here they are: the young people, an important part of the Je suis Opera artists.
    They have been in the civil society demonstrations during the last years, when we needed them most, to protest against corruption and they do the same thing now. The least xenophobes and most diverse part of the opera. They don’t like the trolling campaign and they know Tibi, have worked with him, and trust him. They asked him to represent them, because they know that he is brutally honest, even if not very diplomatic. That he has a military school formation and is hardened, he can ignore all the troling and shame campaigns arround him and towards him, to do the right thing. They know he made faux-pas, ok, that he’s xenophobic and power hungry, and wife ambition driven, no way. They speak very highly about Alina and Kobborg, they just don’t like that the couple is used to divert their demands for a correct management.

    • Almaviva says:

      If these young people are the ones behind ‘maestro’ Soare – the same ones involved, as you say, in civil society’s past demonstrations – I wonder then what do they make of his association with known corrupt (PSD) politicians. Such as mayor Negoita. ‘The future is with you’ – sort of…

      • Monica Balasoiu says:

        Hello! My name is Monica Balasoiu and since 2012 I am the concert-maister of this young orchestra, Symphactory Orchestra. Tiberiu Soare was asked by us to conduct pro-bono, because we didn t have money to rent a hall or to pay anybody. Our first concerts were in Enescu Hall at National University of Music Bucharest. Since then,he is our conductor.
        Our projects: Histoire du Soldat, Opera in Concert- Don Pasquale, I love Mozart etc
        This is what we do:

        All I can say is that Tiberiu Soare has a wonderful soul and is an amazing conductor!

  • Munda Iritas says:

    I believe the situation at the BNO is incredibly complicated and to downsize them by pointing at singular people is nonsense. Things have been going into the wrong direction for a long period of time and the tremendous “pimple” that came with it, has been now more or less incidentally popped open by Tiberiu Soare. If Mr. Almaviva fails to recognize both Mr. Soares integrity and musical competencies, it speaks for himself…. Shaming others and trying to be superior is really pointless in such a discussion. Where are the credits and the own big cultural achievments, that would somehow qualify such a behaviour and such harsh opinions? I personally believe it is a pity that the cultural minister was forced to resign and I still believe that Tiberiu Soare was a great choice as well as Kobborg/ Cojocaru. And who if not the young artists, who are less distorted by the not so glorious past with “abuses, discrimination, illegal activity, fraud”, should be trying to fight for a change?

    • almaviva says:

      ‘Maestro’ Soare would never have been appointed director were it not for his friend Rares Zaharia ‘suggesting’ to the former minister. That was his only qualification. Was Soare the only conductor at the Opera? No. Soare is the prototype of the Balkanic artist, he is the perfect impersonation of the idea that one can only rise by his connections, relations, influence – which is in fact the very disease at the heart of the Romanian society, where groups of interest impose their will at the expense of the true talents, who have to leave that country in order to achieve something and be recognized.

      In any case, by his wild accusations (‘Kobborg is an impostor’, who stole money), by his dictatorial behaviour (firing people at will the next day of his appointment), his xenophobic and nationalistic discourse (‘we only speak Romanian at the National Opera’), ‘maestro’ Soare has done irreparable damage to his international career, if he had one. Not to mention his shady connections in the corrupt political world (mayor Negoita). His reputation is in tatters in the international press. I guess he will get the occasional invite to conduct in Turkmenistan or in Azerbaijan, but the civilized world will have nothing to do with him.

      • Mihail Ghiga says:

        As Munda Iritas said, I’d like that Mr. Almaviva show some credentials and some facts.
        Fact: Tiberiu Soare is a good conductor.
        Fact: He did not fired Kobborg, he erased his unofficial credentials (an undiplomatic move, to be honest). The minister demoted Tiberiu. Kobborg was reinstated and granted official artistic ballet director position. Yet, Alina Cojocaru tweets: I will be be performing ONLY under the management that made this ballet happen for our audience to enjoy, with @KOBBORG as our leader!! They are manipulated by the former direction team, inspite that they are sacrificing them.
        Fact: The previous management is under investigation for corruption.
        Fact: They are not xenophobic. The official release is here
        Fact: Mr. Almaviva reminds me of one of my favorite french actors Fernandel. One of his movies was called “The mutton with 5 legs”. In it he plays 6 roles. Probably the blogger who is most vocal agains Je suis Opera, Mr. Patrascu, wants to show his ability to be an actor, Almaviva, Absurdistan, MM, Not so proud romania being his roles.
        For now, all this facets begin to look more and more as this:
        And what’s hilarious is that this trolls are afraid of the sun (Soare means sun, by the way). Almaviva, show some credentials or forever be a troll.

      • Tiberiu Soare says:

        Hello everybody! This is the dark and sinister “maestro” Soare writing here. First of all, dear Almaviva, I would like to emphasise that I’m making right now a huge exception, due to the fact that I never (never!) answer to messages undersigned py a pseudo-name. Anyway, let me introduce my self: I was indeed a permanent conductor at the National Opera House here, in Bucharest for 8 years, between 2005 and 2013 (Monica made a small mistake due to an error on a site). I was competing then with four other gifted young conductors, wich are still among my friends and colleagues. I have conducted here over 120 performances (both opera and ballet titles), among wich over 10 premieres (Don Pasquale, Mefistofele by Boito, Oedipe by Enesco, Swan Lake, etc.). In time, I’ve became very good friend with many of the artists here: soloists, orchestra and choir members, dancers, and so on. We’ve really felt like an artistic family here! I’ve left this position (at my own will!) in April 2013, when the management of Razvan Ioan Dinca made very clear for me that this was not a place for me to stay anymore. Between 2012-2015 I’ve held also the position of Principal Conductor at the National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Romania. I was also visiting professor at the National University of Music for some years (orchestra conducting/score analysis). I was born here, in Bucharest (1977) in a good but not very rich family. I’ve never have had any pollitical connections in my life (in fact I’m not interested at all in this matter and I don’t vote, as a personal option). Useless to say, never have met mayor Negoita in my existence (I really don’t know why this should be something infamant, maybe he is an honourable person, I really don’t know). The concert you’re pointing at was hosted by a cultural foundation financed by the city authorities, indeed, but this is normal here in Romania: the state supports classical music from public funds, you may ask any romanian musician. I’m quite a normal person: driving my eight year son (Alexandru) at school in the morning, studying orchestra scores during nights (I really love spending time with Mozart, Mahler, Enesco and the rest of the pack), meeting friends and reading good books (by the way, I’m honoured to be hosted here by Mr. Norman Lebrecht: his tremendous writing “Why Mahler” is on a shelve in my study room, full of coffee stains and adnotations). Speaking about books, I’ve also wrote two: “What are we going to the Opera for?” and, very recently, “Nine musical stories” (some personal impressions about meeting great composers via their music scores, not encyclopedias). I don’t remember ever hating somebody, but I do love any musician and artist. And Opera: for me it’s the everlasting spiritual home. I can say that I breathe Opera. Now, let me explain some minor details: first of all, one month ago I was invited by the Ministry of Culture to take over ad interim this general manager post. That meant that I’ve blew over my entire life (cutting off my concerts in the near future, saying good-bye for a while to my loved music scores and books and really missing my boy and my family for entire days). Anyway, studying the institutional structure like an orchestra score (analysis professor, remember?) I’ve found out here many wrong things. I admire any gifted artist (Kobborg and Alina included) but this is not about Art: it’s about public money, law and my signature under them. I’ve decided not to assume something wich I’ve considered not right. I’ve never fired anybody, just forbidding Mr. Kobborg to use fictive titles on a public site. That’s all. Never threatened any artist, never discussing about nationality or race. Furthermore, there are many issues that I’ve dealt with, not only de “Artistic Director (Ballet)” thing. For example: about 11 million euros spent on a major renovation of our Opera House few years ago. The whole work stopped unfinished just before the presidential elections in November 2014. The money-gone, the building- a shame. Any suggestions? I could go on like this for long, maybe I’ll find time to write you again. Let me say this: I’m a honest musician, not a monster. And I don’t care about image wars: I’m the first to admit that it’s not a great thing this what I’m trying to do here, but don’t judge me. Try to be sure that you have the whole picture first. And then we can have a decent dialogue. All the best!

        • almaviva says:

          Dear Mr. Soare, I thank you for taking your time to respond to my little diatribe. I truly appreciate your doing so, and furthermore, for your civilized and respectful tone. I will respond in kind, first by apologizing for my attacks. If they crossed the line, which I hope they didn’t, it is because I feel so strongly and passionately about what is happening at the ONB. I feel that a tremendous injustice has been done to JK and AC, two true artists of such an international standing, that to even have them involved in any project would be a tremendous honour to any organization. Whatever bureaucratic justification you may invoke, I hope you now see that the way it was handled by you was at the very least clumsy and inelegant. The impression you left by your actions was one of personal animosity and resentment, a ‘getting even’ of sorts. You may argue with that, but that is how it looks. The international press has been quite scathing in its coverage of this unfortunate scandal (NYT, AP, The Guardian, AFP, et al).

          I am a composer and a freelance musician living in New York. I know and have worked with many conductors and musicians from the NY Phil, the Met, ABT – you will be perhaps surprised to hear how many of them know and admire Alina Cojocaru, she has such an excellent reputation in the musical world. Not one of them had anything mean or unkind to say about her. I do not personally know her, but I have seen her many times in London and in NYC. Most recently, at the (infamous, according to you) NY Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

          Given all this, it made me personally repulsed and embarrassed by the way she and her partner have been treated by the new leadership at ONB and the subsequent campaign of harassment and intimidation of her and her supporters. They have done so many great things at the ONB, they have against so many odds greatly increased its reputation, that to treat them like common criminals with accusations of fraud and corruption does not do justice to them – or to you. I am certain that you see the huge backlash this whole campaign has generated and that you see that the ONB’s prestige and international standing has been affected. For that reason, I pray that you put aside any personal feelings and bureaucratic entanglements and see the larger picture at issue here. I hope that, as one who truly cares about this institution, you can find it in yourself to solve this situation. It is not just matter of titles, or salaries, it is much larger than that; the image of the ONB is at stake here, and so is yours and everyone’s on all sides. The entire musical world is watching you.

          It is in your power to fix this, and I honestly hope you will. I sincerely wish you all the best.

  • Mihail Ghiga says:

    Well, if you want interesting news, Romania is the best place now.
    So, an update. The minister who resigned, Vlad Alexandrescu, started to declare that, well, he’s a victim of “interests who want to stop the reform”, afterwards that he feels the reforms he started are in danger without him, and he will not resign until Easter, and that only if instead of him a Mrs Suteu (or something) is appointed. Sorry to say, it’s so much like Alina Cojocaru stating she come back only if the previous opera manager comes back too that I think they must have the same communication strategist. And he claimed that fellow ministers were not nice to him (much like the competition guy in the other post, with the prize) and there he planned a support campaign for himself for tuesday, for him to stay.
    The prime minister declared (short version and only the meaning): you .., if you had something to say, why ddidn’t you said it in private? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, tuesday morning I’ll wrote your demission myself.
    Well, Romania is a beautifull country, some things (like roads) are a pain in the… but it’s FUN!

  • Mihail Ghiga says:

    And an update to the “dark forces” behind Darth Soare
    first, Darth Soare himself:
    second – that bleating, oversized alleged mezzosoprano who lives off the fat of her father’s reputation, as Absurdistan “kindly” called her
    3rd – Ifti, the imp –
    and more to come.
    Thing is, truth can be distorted, but it’s still the truth, it cames out. It’s a pity that Alina and Kobborg are caught in the engrenage of some very ill- intended people.

  • Monica Balasoiu says:

    Dear Miss/Mrs Tosca,

    Mr Soare has a history with Bucharest Opera House. He was conductor at this Opera betweet 2007-2012. He took this job after an audition.