“Don’t let my music die!”



What title can be more suitable for an article dedicated to the composer Ciprian Porumbescu?

Title inspired by and with his own words. And, going further with the thought, these words are probably also those of our ancestors. The music he composed is inspired by authentic folklore. Fundamental part of our root. Our code.

Today, October 14, we celebrate 169 years since since was born the one who had a very short earthly life, but left a unique legacy thanks to the grace that bore fruit until the last moment.

A moment that is often remembered in the research done by those who are involved in doctoral studies is the meeting of the Romanian composer with Giuseppe Verdi. In his last year of life, while he was in Italy – as it appears from the correspondence he had with his father Iraclie and his sister Mărioara Porumbescu – he played the violin for the “old master”, a part of the Romanian soul: Doina. “Great thing, I didn’t know this song, but I can feel and understand its whole range!, Giuseppe Verdi said then.

I didn’t have access to those documents and I really thought about whether or not to leave this detail, but I believe that it is a bright aspect that encourages our imagination to work further.

And, remaining in the same audition mood, we can imagine what emotions the young Porumbescu must have had in front of one of the world’s greatest composers.

Don’t let my music die is the leitmotif of this day, the birthday of the composer Ciprian Porumbescu. Leitmotif as long as we mention him as often as possible in radio and TV shows, in articles, in our daily discussions, in our meetings with students, in promoting his music in musical institutions in the country, in dialogue with our children. This is where the appreciation of the Man and the composer Ciprian Porumbescu will be born.
The first musical moment that comes to my mind now are the first measures of the famous Ballade for violin and orchestra, which seems easy at first audition, but its difficulty has been felt and affirmed by many famous violinists.

Other steps in the journey dedicated to his compositions lead us to the operetta „Crai Nou” (New Moon), „Union is written on our flage” (music that we hear today in the national anthem of Albania – „Hymni i Flamurit”), the melody for „Three colors” – the former national anthem of Romania. These are just some of the scores that brought out his patriotism and authentic Romanian side.

Considering that we are on the day we celebrate this name, we should pay attention to the first cult Romanian operetta “Crai Nou”, in which I think we find the “essence” of what Ciprian Porumbescu’s creation actually meant.

It was staged for the first time, on March 11, 1882 (a year before his death) in the festive hall of the Romanian Gymnasium in Brașov – today the “Andrei Șaguna” National College -, where Ciprian Porumbescu was a music teacher between 1881 and 1883.

Now, 140 years after the premiere of this title, the Bucharest National Opera staged the operetta “Crai Nou”, a cultural event from the series of those realized within the ITU-PP conference, organized by ANCOM. As a result, foreign delegations were able to see and listen to a part of the Romanian culture through this show. A context and a pretext to think about this project in the long term, more precisely, for this title to be part of the ONB seasons.

The operetta “Crai Nou” brought on stage six very well chosen voices.

I first mention the guest artists: Oana Şerban – Dochiţa, Daniela Cârstea – Anica, Radu Ion – The Administrator, Andrei Petre – Leonaş, well-prepared young people from a technical point of view, but also interpretatively.

They were joined by two experienced soloists of the Romanian National Opera: the bass singer Ion Dimieru who played Moş Corbu (Forefather Corbu) and the baritone Alexandru Constantin who interpreted Bujor. 

I had the chance to see this show and I confess that it was the first time I had contact with the music of this operetta, in its entirety, not fragments as I had heard during the years of communism.

Very important: the meaning, the symbol of this music lies beyond any era. Therefore, the libretto by Vasile Alecsandri and the music by Ciprian Porumbescu are highlighted, through the fruitful collaboration of set designer Adrian Damian and director Răzvan Ioan Dincă. A collaboration for the first time that I hope it will be auspicious for future productions as well.

It is a staging that reminds us that we are in the 21st century and technology is on our side and becomes an addition to the art of performance.

I can’t help but wish that this type of sources and resources can be found in other future productions of the National Opera in Bucharest.

I think the beauty of this show lies in the sense in which the director managed to build the story by taking inspiration from the way the music „flows”. It is a well-connected show, which has no dead moments, in which the artists know very well what they have to do.

Then, we applauded a Romanian language beautifully sung, a well-cohesive orchestra under the conductor Daniel Jinga’s baton.

The traditional elements, especially in the costumes, enhance the dancers’ dance and emphasize the delicacy of the operetta’s characters.

A detail that I was pleasantly surprised by was the voice over part (belonging to Attila Vizauer) and which appears as a novelty in this show. A voice that unites certain moments of the operetta through details that make us aware of the importance of Romanian myths and traditions.

Let’s not forget: the basis of great music can be found in folk music themes, regardless of era. The root is the same. Let’s cherish ours and see to it that it reaches further.

The year 2023 will mean a lot to us, as we will celebrate the 170th anniversary of the birth of Ciprian Porumbescu and commemorate the 140th anniversary of his death. Again a reason to be happy and to find countless opportunities to make his music known.

„Don’t let my music die!”