Aida, March 17, 1920. "I waited for it. With the justifiable, feverish impatience you feel before an ideal dream comes true!," wrote the Rampa magazine on March 18, 1920, hailing the opening of the first lyrical season. People liked "the cheap, but very beautiful stage design," then the "luxurious details, the extras' movements studied up to the minutest details." About the main singers, we read this: "Who can say that when Jean Athanasiu came on stage they did not feel an emotion triggered by pure art and a feeling that they will be able to voluptuously listen to that generous, dramatic, flexible, and imposing voice?!" As for the rest of the cast, although unequal in artistic terms, it still made a good impression, especially owing to George Folescu (Ramfis) and Edgar Istratty (the king of Egypt). After Amonasro sung by Jean Atahnasiu, who "appears as a vocal colossus" (it seems that it was one of Athanasiu's greatest roles), the author of the Rampa notice continues: "Folescu sang Ramfis with a remarkable bass voice and impressive tenure. Edgar Istratty was elegant and grand. Nasta was the one to sing Radames: he came with fame from abroad, but it so happened that his voice did not sound good that evening. In fact, neither did Lucille Marcel Weingartner inspire him to put his soul in it, and the other lady, Elena Teodorescu, is too young as a debutante in the rather difficult part of Amneris. These small and unavoidable flaws in a grand show were in fact forgotten at the 'Gran Finale,' when Radames returns victorious and when the brilliant trio Athanasiu, Folescu, and Istratty, surrounded by the chorus, in grand surroundings, with Massini conducting, brought happiness and confidence in the Romanian opera to the audience." About Madama Butterfly, Juarez Movila wrote in the music notice published by Curierul Artelor nos. 30-33 of May 10-20, 1920, p. 6: "Maestro Massini is in perfect control and was able to place emphasis on all the orchestral effects of Puccini's drama. Full of talent and power, a conscientious and passionate worker, he is carving an increasingly beautiful pedestal for himself in the temple of our music." (…)The summer of 1920 was restless. Under the headline "Conflict Between the Romanian Opera and the Art Ministry," Rampa no. 849 of August 23, 1920 reported "Massini would have resigned from the management of the Romanian Opera, because the state did not pay the subsidy provided for in the budget." The conductor's ultimatum seems to have made them pay, because Rampa no. 853 of August 28, 1920 reported that Massini "will go back to Italy to sign contracts with artists and technicians." Even if the financial problem was solved for the time being, the 1920-1921 season did not begin under favorable auspices.Just before the 1920-1921 season opened, the second one of the "Opera - Lyrical Company Under the High Patronage of Her Majesty Queen Maria," a general poster listing the repertoire, the names of the artists, and the names of the people serving on the Patronage Committee unveiled all of Massini's acquisitions for the new season. The headquarters of the company was in the Lyrical Theater, which belonged to Leon Popescu, the Patronage Committee included Ecaterina Ghika, Maria General Poenaru, Irina Procopiu, lady-in-waiting at the Royal Palace, Aristia Dissescu, and Senator Grigore Alevra. The executive artistic leadership had three members: Ion Nonna Otescu, president; Egizio Massini, artistic director; and Umberto Pessione. Chorus master: Ion N. Baston; repetiteur: Lidia Zanescu; and first ballerina: Teresa Battagi. It is interesting to study the structure of the assemblies: 80 choristers, 60 instrumentalists in the orchestra, and 24 ballet dancers. These were the soloists: singers Elena Baratoff, E. Cord, Alexandra Ferraru, Enrichetta Rodrigo, R. Brunetto, Elena Ivoni, C. Chiris-Dobrescu, Cecilia Nastea Cherchez, Aurelia Lupescu, Tana Nanescu, Elena Teodorescu, F. Cellani, A. Gulatieri, M. Ilinschi, A. Costescu Duca, Gheorghe Folescu, Edgar Istratty, Vasile Rabega, Romulus Vrabiescu, Grigore Teodorescu, Grigore Magiari, Alexandru Alger, George Belcic, Stefan Ionescu, Ion Manolescu, and Constantin Damian.Therefore, a powerful company, with the best artists of the time. Equally interesting is the repertoire for 1920-1921: Aida, La Boheme, Carmen, Eugene Onegin, Faust, La Gioconda, Lakme, Lohengrin, Mefistofele, Manon, Madama Butterfly, Samson et Dalila, Tosca, and Werther. Of course, ambitions ran much higher than the capacity for premieres. New in the repertoire were Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saens and La Gioconda by Ponchielli. They had resumed Tosca, Aida, Carmen, and Rigoletto. Massini's friend Giovanelli conducted Rigoletto. In a notice published on February 12, 1921 by Rampa no. 988, p. 5, the Maecenas of Bucharest's artistic life, Paolo Tempesta, said this about the causes of all the past failures of the opera: "Discipline lacked from the very beginning, which is the main cause of today's failure. Mr. Massini managed to animate everybody, to correct everybody, and to direct everybody to the ideal of the opera, which is a great merit, no question about it. He was a very good artistic director, but no one could ask him to be a good administrator as well." (…)In 1922, on his way to Vienna, Massini stopped in Cluj to conduct his major creation Aida at the Romanian opera there. This direct contact with the opera in the capital of Transylvania proved fruitful, because, after director Dimitie Popovici-Bayreuth died in 1927, Massini got his job.In Vienna, Massini signed a contract with the Volksoper. Apart from conducting the premieres of Aida, Carmen, La Boheme, and Boris Godunov, Massini also directed some shows. So, he made his international debut there as a stage director. There are question marks about Massini's Viennese career at this stage of the documentation effort. Some people say that he only directed Boris Godunov, while others (among whom the late custodian of the opera museum in Bucharest, George Ionascu) say that he directed all four operas. We do not have the reactions of the Austrian press to those premieres. Still in 1922, he saw La Boheme in Warsaw. It seems that this international moment meant a lot, because it was in Warsaw that Massini met Puccini. In 1923, when he returned to Bucharest, the audience was still under the powerful impression of his memorable Lohengrin that inaugurated the state opera. (…)In the 1923-1924 season, he conducted La Boheme. During two decades, he had these signers as Mimi: Alexandra Ferraru, Florica Cristoforeanu, Elena Saghin, Lidia Lipkovska, Lidia Babici, Fea Pomponiu, Evantia Costinescu, Valentina Cretoiu, and Alexandra Elefterescu – the most memorable one was Valentina Cretoiu. As Rodolfo, he had Arnoldo Georgewksi, Mircea Lazar, Dimitrie Onofrei, Viorel Chicideanu, and Dinu Badescu. (…) In the 1923-1924 season, Massini added Un ballo in maschera to his repertoire. After a show with tenor Giacomo Borelli, Rampa wrote on January 2, 1924: "The success is reflected on the management, which is interested in the value of the shows, offering us performances at the level of Western operas – the firm show conducted by Massini." Directed by Jose Aratti, Un ballo in maschera was sung by Enrichetta Rodrigo, Maria Cojocareanu (Amelia), A. Georgewski and Nicu Apostolescu (Riccardo), Jean Athanasiu (Renato), Olga Grozovska and Tana Nanescu (Ulrica), and A. Lupescu Teisanu (Oscar). Perhaps the most attractive in point of sensitivity was Elena Dragulinescu Stinghe as Oscar, which was very good for her because of her height and delicacy, suggesting a court page."On October 6, 1924 I sang for the first time Lola in Cavalleria rusticana," wrote mezzo-soprano Maria Snejina. "A small, but interesting part. Then I sang it again many times, with the same pleasure every time. Massini conducted." As far as Massini was concerned, Cavalleria rusticana was a jewel that gave him great artistic satisfactions. The orchestral interlude and the famous chorus were central moments for Massini. His most unexpected joy came in the show that ended the season on May 14, 1928, when tenor Dimitrie Onofrei and his wife Bianca Saroya came to Bucharest from America. Snejina remembered: "I sang Lola. The audience was deeply interested and moved by that show. We were proud of such a patriot, who managed to make us famous abroad, owing to his talent.""Of course, Mascagni's opera was coupled with Pagliacci. The premiere had been in the 1923-1924 season, and the opera was a permanent item in Massini's repertoire, up to the 1942-1943 season. As Cannio, he had tenors Romulus Vrabiescu, Eliachim Algazi, Nicu Apostolescu, Emil Marinescu, as Tonio he had Jean Athanasiu, Aurel Costescu Duca, and Petre Stefanescu Goanga, and as Nedda – Enrichetta Rodrigo, Adela Ionascu, Victoria Costescu Duca, Alexandra Elefterescu, Dora Massini, and Thea Ramurescu. During two seasons, Sigismund Zaleski (1931-1932) and Gogu Simionescu (1941-1942) sang Tonio.In his desire to refresh the repertoire with operas that were either forgotten or not acknowledged, Massini proposed to do La Wally by Catalani on February 7, 1924. It was written in the 19th century (1892), and our soprano Hariclea Darcle sang at the premiere. So bringing this score back to the repertoire of the Romanian opera was also based on a sentimental argument. Massini had a great cast for La Wally at the Bucharest opera: Enrichetta Rodrigo in the title part (La Wally), Gheorghe Folescu (Stromminger), Jean Athanasiu and Aurel Costescu Duca (Gellner), and Margareta Metaxa and Elena Dragulinescu Stinghe (Walter). Unfortunately, La Wally was never resumed in subsequent seasons. (…) Baritones Aurel Costescu Duca, G. Sterian Mandy, Grigore Teodorescu, Grigore Magiari, Alexandru Lupescu, Dumitru Baziliu, M. Emiliani, Nae Dumtirescu, Umberto Urbano, Enrico Molinari (1927), Max Saveanu, Celestino Davolu, Petre Stefanescu Goanga, Vasile Alexiu, Serban Tassian, Alexandru Lupescu, Montesanto (1935), Alexandru Enachescu, and Mihail Arnautu (1942) contributed to the continuous success of La Traviata. Verdi's score was one of Massini's great achievements. "On October 1, 1925, I opened the season with Boris Godunov," wrote Snejina, "prepared and conducted by Massini. First I sang Marina. On November 7, 1925, I had to sing two roles."The premiere of Boris Godunov was not without adventures. Without meaning to, Massini made his debut as a director. The director of the Romanian opera, in his interview "Chatting With George Georgescu" published by Rampa no. 2372 of September 23, 1925, said "the first ensemble rehearsals were done by Russian director Vecoff. After he left for family reasons, Massini had to direct, and he did it with much knowledge. He had conducted Boris Godunov before in Vienna, so now he directed it, too."So George Georgescu confirmed Massini's collaboration at the Volkoper, but he also denied that Massini directed that opera, which is what people talked so much about. If Massini had directed Boris Godunov in Vienna as well, then the director of the Romanian opera would have said so openly, to strengthen Massini's authority as a director. Anyway, the first performance of the Russian masterpiece on a Romanian stage was a success. (…) In the 1925-1926 season, Massini conducted Madama Butterfly. This work brought him great artistic joy, because over the years he collaborated with many great sopranos. It is enough to mention Lidia Lipkovska, Florica Cristoforeanu, Enrichetta Rodrigo, Maia Kuznetova, Dora Massini (1930), Pia Igy, Fea Pomponiu, Lucretia Enescu, Alexandra Elefterescu, Maria Cebotari (1942), Ana Rosza Vasiliu, Valentina Cretoiu, and the very young Ana Talmaceanu (1942-1943). Of course, the extraordinary shows with Maria Cebotari and Lidia Lipkovska marked Massini for the rest of his life. He liked Bessarabian Maria Cebotari very much, and he spoke about her matchless artistic personality until the end of his life. (…) In 1928-1929, he resumed the following at the Romanian opera in Bucharest: Boris Godunov, Madama Butterfly, La Traviata, Lucia di Lammermoor, The Flying Dutchman, Tosca, Rigoletto, and Il Trovatore, adding Petrushka by Stravinsky. (…) Petrushka was the premiere that overwhelmed the Bucharest audience. Massini was extremely brave to approach that difficult score, not so much for the inflexible orchestra, which had no experience in playing the ravishing rhythms of the Russian composer, but because of the Romanian conservative audience, which was reticent to modern music. "They did not know what to do," wrote George Breazul in his notice in Cuvantul on February 13, 1928; "boo, they were afraid to. Applaud, they were ashamed to. However, we have no reason to believe that they were indifferent. On the contrary, we can say people were touched. Stravinsky's work does not leave anybody indifferent, absolutely not. The audience was also impressed by the novelty of the work, by the courageous initiative of the Romanian opera." Very firmly, the Cuvantul music critic concluded: "All of a sudden, we side with the modernists."It was Massini's idea to do Petrushka. He was one of the most zealous conductors in promoting the Slavic art, especially Russian composers. Breazul wrote: "Massini put this energetic music in its rightful place, carefully steering clear of the orchestra's stumbling. Of course, everybody can do better, in every way." (…) In the 1930-1931 season, Massini conducted a pre-classical comic opera: Il matrimonio segreto, by Domenico Cimarosa. With only two breaks (1934-1937 and 1940-1945), it was repeatedly performed with Valentina Cretoiu (Eliseta), Maria Snejina (Fidalma), George Niculescu Basu (Geronimo), Viorel Chicideanu (Paolino), Alexandru Alger (Count Robinson), and Pia Zguriadescu (Carolina). This stock cast led to an amazing cohesion over the years. Massini conducted this amusing score in a relaxed manner, by heart.Meanwhile, he began tours abroad. He conducted in Warsaw, then in Kiev and Sofia (1928). In the Bulgarian capital, he joined a strike of the artists at the opera. The most fruitful result of those tours seems to have been the fact that he brought back to Romania a beautiful and talented soprano that he had an exceptional passion for. (…) The paper Ecoul in March 1934 wrote this about the Arad cultural propaganda tour of the military musicians. "Sunday March 11, 1934, at 9 PM, one single gala concert will be given at the Cultural Palace by the symphonic orchestra of the Royal Palace Guard Battalion, with 80 instrumentalists. The proceeds will go to the poor people of Arad. The concert will be conducted by Lt. Col. Massini, inspector of military music and first maestro of the Romanian Opera." (…) Massini had initiated open-air concerts with a giant 500-strong fanfare as early as in 1933. (…) Lt Col. Massini orders the officers to assemble. "We each get our orders from the boss. We report on what has been done at the training place. The men go to fetch their instruments and scores." The poster looks far from easy: the overture to Tannhaeuser, Symphony no. 5 by Beethoven, Romanian Poem by George Enescu, the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, the pot-pourri Romania's Flower by Iosif Paschill, the Romanian, Polish, Czechoslovak, and Yugoslav royal anthems, the March of Marshal Pilsudsky, and Polonaise by Chopin. A table with bread, cheese, salami, and onion was laid next to Massini's tent. The military chefs cooked lunch. There is ice for beverages, because the summer heat is on. All days were the same, with fatiguing rehearsals. The papers from Bucharest arrive, and they announce: "Greatest Artistic Event, Unique Show." "Lt. Col. Massini will conduct a great symphonic concert with 700 instrumentalists Saturday June 23, at 9:30 PM, as part of the sport exhibition on the ONEF stadium." The Royal Court, the entire government, the diplomatic corps, the generals, and all the local officials were scheduled to participate. A Bucharest paper warned listeners: "There are phenomena and shows that people only have the opportunity to see once in a lifetime. Later regrets, that indolence or a blamable negligence were the reasons for missing them, are futile." (…) LAST JOYS, SHOWS, AND TOURS (1954-1966)Massini enjoyed a great success when he inaugurated the new building of the Romanian Opera with The Queen of Spades in 1954. Second only to that, he was perhaps most happy when he conducted the premieres of the Romanian operas Prince Ion the Terrible (1956) and Uprising (1959) by Gheorghe Dumitrescu. There had been 15 years since the opening of Alexandru Lapusneanu, the first Romanian opera that he conducted, and he was looking forward to conducting another Romanian work, to silence those who still thought of him as a "foreigner."Gheorghe Dumitrescu's music had something of Massini's fiery personality. After many unsuccessful attempts to introduce specific works in the Romanian opera repertoire, the opening of Prince Ion the Terrible on April 12, 1956 was a moment when the Romanian creation was strongly asserted.At the time, the press wrote amply about this, because the Romanian Opera had mobilized most of its artistic forces: Serban Tassian and Alexandru Badulescu (Prince Ion), Dinu Badescu (Ieremia), Elena Cernei (Princess Marica), Cornelia Gavrilescu and Zoe Dragotescu (Ruxandra), Pantelimon Frunza (Joldea), and Viorel Ban (Malai), Valentin Loghin, Vasile Diaconescu, Stefan Petrescu, and Ianula Papadopol in various secondary parts, to whom a very important "character" created by Dumitrescu was added – the chorus under Gheorghe Kulibin. Massini outdid himself.This is an enthusiastic notice in Apararea Patriei of April 26, 1956: "Massini conducted the opera, having an impressive number of people to manage, and his performance rose at the level of the best shows in his rich artistic career. With his characteristic dynamism, his suggestive gestures, Massini was the brain of this monumental show."Alfred Hoffman wrote in Romania Libera no. 3599 of May 4, 1956, remarking the "homogeneity of the ensemble of secondary artists with great resources and stage experience," who were cast in apparently small parts, but who brought color to the opera: "Massini conducted the show with authority an dynamism, which led to the conclusion that the Romanian music drama was a success!" Equally optimistic, Ada Brumaru wrote in Munca no. 2662 of May 13, 1956: "Maestro Massini conducted, and he placed all his skill and experience at the service of a musical success in performing this grand Romanian opera," viewing it as "the first Romanian music drama of great artistic value, worthy of the increasingly great successes of our contemporary music."Radu Gheciu wrote in Contemporanul of April 27, 1956: "Massini authoritatively controls the sound edifice, imposing vigorous accents and the required dynamism to the entire performance." (…) In the spring of 1963 the Romanian Opera went to Paris. Massini conducted Il barbiere di Siviglia on May 23 and 25, having an exceptional success at the Theatre des Champs Elysees. The feared Clarendon (none other than Bernard Gavotty!) wrote in Le Figaro on May 25, 1963: "The orchestra conducted by Massini with great skill sounded wonderful." L'Humanite wrote this on the same day: "A conductor deeply penetrated by Rossini's spirit was in charge of the show – he perfectly succeeded in creating a very tight, primordial fusion between voices and orchestra."In the fall of 1963, the Romanian conductor finally managed to go to Italy, where he had been invited many times. On November 21, 1963, Massini conducted the Italian Radio Orchestra (RAI) in Rome with works by Enescu, Antonin Dvorak, and Tchaikovsky.When he was 70 and had won the major title of "People's Artist," the maestro had another great joy: Electrecord published his integral Il Trovatore on record. That recording was made in acceptable conditions, in the Italian original, and preserved one of his capital successes for the posterity. 

by various critics