The Romanian critic Alexandru Patrascu, a contributor to the London-based Opera magazine, has lost a libel case brought against him by the conductor Tiberiu-Ionuț Soare, former head of Bucharest National Opera, and the soprano Irina Iordăchescu. The pair claimed 100,000 in damages for Patrascu’s reporting. They were awarded one-tenth of that sum, but it is nonetheless a heavy penalty and an affront to free speech.
The dispute centres on a period when Soare was appointed interim manager of BNO in April 2016 after the turbulent dismissal of the renowned Danish dancer Johan Kobborg and his wife, Romania’s most celebrated dancer, Alina Cojocaru. Patrascu reported these events for international outlets and on his own blog. No other Romanian critic dared to report the story, such is the state of free speech in the EU-member country. (Soare gave his own account on Slipped Disc in May 2016.)
Together with the soprano Iordăchescu, Soare sued the critic both for his own blog posts and for comments that appeared on it.
On Friday, the conductor won. The critic has been given the right to appeal, and will do so.
Meantime, he states his response (in English) on a new blog site here:
I love opera passionately. This is the reason for this blog, which is now in danger to disappear.
In the spring of 2016, I chose to sound an alarm regarding the situation at Bucharest National Opera, during the huge scandal that triggered the ousting of Johan Kobborg, artistic manager of the ballet company, and of Alina Cojocaru, the most important Romanian ballerina. Some tens of important other dancers left the company together with them, and proved afterwards the value they had acquired while working under Johan Kobborg’s management, as they went to international ballet companies.
A unique situation in the musical world: not a single Romanian music critic wrote about those events…