The history of the Bucharest lyrical performance closely mirrors the evolution of the Romanian society over the last two centuries, more and more naturally integrated into the European civilization. Thus, the beginnings of professional music in the Romanian Principalities coincide with the staging of musical shows, the opera performances opening for the audience perspectives beyond imagination, on the cultural and knowledge levels of musical masterpieces.
At the time, the Romanian territory was crossed by a great number of foreign companies halting in the big cities, offering performances with Italian and German repertoires, as early as the end of the 17th century. In 1843, the first Italian theater was inaugurated in Bucharest, staging Norma by Bellini, followed by Lucia of Lamermoor by Donizetti, The Barber of Seville and Cinderella by Rossini. The launching of the Bucharest lyrical company on the 8th of May 1885, was an event to remember. The foundation of the lyrical company by George Stephanescu in 1892 was followed by a series of initiatives meant to impose the idea of the Romanian Opera in the native cultural life.
In 1921, the Society “The Opera” received the necessary funds for observing the criteria for the institutionalizing a national musical theater, and became the Romanian Opera House. The inaugurating performance wass a remarkable event, namely the premiere of Lohengrin by Wagner, staged by the director Adalbert Markowski, under the baton of George Enescu. After 1950, the Opera received, finally, a new location, meant to replace the former one which had been destroyed during the World War II bombardments of the capital. Thus, new better conditions were provided in order to stage top lyrical and choreographic productions. The inauguration of the new building of the Opera House was marked, on the 9th of January 1954, with the premiere The Queen of Spades by Ceaikovski, followed by the premiere of the ballet Coppelia (on the 10th of January 1954), in a production signed by the choreographer master Anton Romanowski.
Bucharest’s Opera House is the main venue for seeing opera and ballet performances in Bucharest, in annual season that runs from October to June. The edifice was built in the years 1952-1953 after the design by a group of architects led by Octav Doicescu. These were the first years of communism in Romania and the style condoned by the regime was called “socialist realism“, the official artistic movement of the Soviet Union. The socialist realism required an artificial return to the classical theme, away from the modernist tendencies of the day, which is why the Opera building has a neoclassical design. One example of the socialist realism touch are the bas-reliefs on the facade. The interior is in the tradition of the 18th century Italian Opera, with a central dome and three tiers of balconies. It has a capacity of 1,200 seats and houses at the top floor the Opera Museum and contains documents, photographs, costumes depicting the development of the lyric genre in Romania.
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