The Bucharest National Opera House (ONB) on January 9 celebrates the 60th anniversary since the inauguration of its present building, event marked by an extraordinary anniversary concert with fragments from Tchaikovsky's ?The Queen of Spades', chosen because it was the first opera staged in the 1953-1954 opera season, 'Eugene Onegin' by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, 'La Boheme' by Giacomo Puccini, 'La traviata' by Giuseppe Verdi and the ballet 'Coppelia' by Leo Delibes, and from other famous works of the genre.
The Bucharest National Opera House building, erected following plans of architects Octav Doicescu and Paraschiva Iubu, shows a heraldic symbol on its frontispiece created by Tudor-Radu Tiron and a motto in Latin language: ARS GRATIA ARTIS (art for the sake of art or, ad litteram, art for reward's sake).
Being listed among the historical monuments in the Romanian capital, having become in the meantime a true symbol of culture and arts, the Romanian National Opera House, with a 952-seat capacity, was built in 1953.
George Enescu's statue, a bronze sculpture made by Ion Jalea, is to be found in the park in front of the building. Also in front of the building, this time while looking towards the entrance, there is also to be found the bust of composer Gheorghe Stephanescu (1843-1925), the founder of the Romanian National Opera.
The history of the Bucharest lyrical performance starts in 1843, when the first Italian theatre opens in Bucharest with the opera 'Norma' by Vincenzo Bellini. After 1850, in parallel to the Italian theater, several Romanian lyrical companies also perform, led by N. Luchian, Costache Caragiale, Matei Millo. These conditions determined career options and the launching of the Romanian lyrical voices worldwide. Several names were already talked about as they had met success in the theatres of the time, becoming international celebrities such as soprano Elena Teodorini, tenor Grigore Gabrielescu, bass-baritone Dimitrie Popovici-Bayreuth, soprano Hariclea Hartulary, whom Saint-Saëns had named 'Darclée'.
After 1870, while being at the same time a composer, a teacher and a conductor, George Stephanescu carried out, for several decades, an activity so important in its complex nature, that he remained one of the prominent figures of 19th century Romanian lyrical art history.
In the first decades of the 20th century, Bucharest could pride itself with its rich cultural life in the field of opera. The Minister for Arts and Religion, the poet Octavian Goga, the husband of a famous voice of the time, soprano Veturia Goga, surnamed 'Transylvania's Nightingale', involved himself in solving of the problems related to the status of the Opera, which was temporarily functioning as the Romanian Lyrical Society 'The Opera', led by Ion Nonna Otescu, under the patronage of H.M.Queen Mary.
In 1924, three years after the institutionalization of the Romanian Opera House (the former name of National Opera House in Bucharest), Anthony Romanovski settled down in Romania, and set up the first ballet company of the opera. The first ballet master of the company was Floria Capsali, whose activity started in 1938. She expanded the number of dancers and promoted the young soloists in main roles.
In 1957 Oleg Danovski restaged 'Swan Lake', Tilde Urseanu staged 'The Nutcracker', and Vasile Marcu staged 'Giselle' by Adolphe Charles Adam, 'Sleeping Beauty' by P.I. Tchaikovsky' and 'Romeo and Juliet' by Sergei Prokofiev.
Over the years, a great number of foreign famous dancers performed on the stage of the opera in Bucharest unforgettable performances: Vladimir Vasiliev, Ekaterina Maximmova, Mihail Baryshnicov, Maina Gielgud, Elisabeth Platel, Jean Guizerix, Willfried Piollet, Margot Fonteyn, Birgit Culberg, Mats Ek, Andrian Fadeev, Anton Bogov, Giuseppe Picone, Alina Cojocaru, Johan Kobborg. AGERPRES