From Marriage In the Carpathians To Romeo and Juliet

1921. End of the year. The Romanian State Opera House was established in Bucharest.1938. The month of August. The young institution was holding, through its representatives, master Floria Capsali to its bosom, who was employed on that occasion to nurture the destiny of Romanian ballet. In the same period, during the running season, the capital's life was colored by numerous artistic events. I glean from the information published by the weekly "Realitatea ilustrată", whose director was writer Tudor Teodorescu Branişte. Very successful was Nicu Vlădoianu's revue "Alhambra", where stars were Silly Vasiliu, Florica Demion Rang, Al. Giovani. In the revue's best choreographic group of scenes, "A Reception at the Embassy", appeared "the excellent Oleg Danovski", together with "Margareta Marian, elegant and stylish". Virginica Popescu was interpreting "admirably" "A Tango at Midnight", on music by Ion Vasilescu. People were applauding "Master's Nicolaide Cartoons" for minutes on end. "Alhambra" was also launching the dramatic production "The Vulture of the Seas", with Grigore Vasiliu-Birlic. The other company, run by Tănase, was launching the premiere "Instambul Tanase" at the Savoy Theatre. The title was announcing the intentions Cock Chafer's leadership to make a future tour in a series of Eastern capitals, an event which would take place in 1939 with the production transformed in "Tănase-Revue". "Realitatea ilustrată" was marking this event by publishing a photograph of the company in front of some historical vestiges in the neighborhood of Cairo. Tănase's nose and the height of the enigmatic pyramids were, of course, the picture's main attraction points. In the fashionable life of Bucharest, a fine marriage "witnessed by Mrs. and Mr. Vlădoianu, director of the theatres Alhambra and Alhambra-Baby. They were accompanying a young couple: Oleg Danovski, ballet master of the "Alhambra" Theatre and Elisabeta Henţia, ballerina artist, daughter of painter Sava Henţia. FLORIA CAPSALI Floria Capsali drew from the very start the talents she had educated along the years. I would like you not to forget that the purpose of my coming to Bucharest was getting employed at the Opera House. And why be hypocritical about it? Who wouldn't have wanted, then as well as now, to become a star, prime dancer of the Romanian Opera House? But there was a long way to go. Getting close to this institution's ballet ensemble represented the continuing a cooperation that proved stimulating for my artistic progress. The moment when Floria Capsali took the lead of the ballet company was artistically very rich. As you know very well, we desperately wanted to create a national ballet. With an essentially Romanian repertoire but also with an illustrative opening towards world creations. We were becoming connoisseurs of various ballet techniques. What was missing were works specially composed for ballet. Substantial, relevant, far-reaching creations destined to assert Romanian ballet as a distinct, national value. The time was ripening. First class composers were won to this cause. And here Floria Capsali had an important role. This is how a series of projects were launched. In 1938 a remake of Mihail Jora's ballet "At the Market" (or "The Big Market", as it was initially called) was announced. Paul Constantinescu – and people were talking ceaselessly about this – was composing for "Marriage in Fundu-Moldovei", the first title of future ballet "Marriage in the Carpathians". Rogalski had been asked to write the music for "The Girl from Drăguş", on a script by Floria Capsali. Another thing, less known but just as important for the education of new dancers, Floria Capsali didn't give up the Private Studio. Moreover, she was running at the same time the conservatoire "Pro-Arte", together with George Cocea, where she was being helped by Marie-Jeanne Livezeanu and Mary Georgescu, prima ballerina of the Opera House, and by Mitiţă Dumitrescu, an excellent element of the Romanian Opera House's male ballet. HOW DID WE GET TO "MARRIAGE IN THE CARPATHIANS"? The ballet "Marriage in the Carpathians" was born after extreme hard work. The music specially composed by Paul Constantinescu asserted itself from the very start as a very valuable choreographic poem. It was actually awarded the 1st prize for composition at the 1938 edition of the "George Enescu" Contest and enjoyed the appreciation of foreign editors, among them "Universal Edition" from Vienna, that bought and printed this work. And then the scenery and the costumes created after the ideas of sculptor Mac Constantinescu, the direction and choreography elements passed through countless perfectible variants. Floria Capsali's script was rich in graphic suggestions and heavy with specifically national elements, which were as many "obstacles" for the dancers. After successfully going through a theoretical and practical study, we got to present in 1939 the first essentially Romanian ballet. I have spoken about my contribution elsewhere. So I will only say that "Marriage in the Carpathians" was also born out of a necessity. With this production we were supposed to go in 1938 to the World Exhibition in New York. But as I told other colleagues of yours, only Maria Tănase was there with a first class folk music band. We couldn't get there because our staff was too… big. I regret missing that moment. It would be hard to make a remake today, but not impossible. Sometimes I wonder why "Marriage in the Carpathians" would not constitute the maturity exam of some young Romanian choreographer. WITH "DEMOISELLE MĂRIUŢA" AT THE "REVOLUTION" I shall also begin this with Floria Capsali. We are still at the Opera House in 1942. An important appearance for Romanian ballet music: Mihail Jora. His creation was being appreciated as "the highest flag set by the Romanian school in the land of symphonic ballet". The performance "Demoiselle Măriuţa", whose action takes place in the revolutionary atmosphere of 1848 Bucharest. What can I tell you? That the ballet was substantial. The music was excellent. Dancers like Trixy Checais, Mitiţă Dumitrescu were covering several roles, joined by an entire gallery of characters embodied on the feminine side by Virginia Anghelescu, Valentina Massini, Sanda Cilski, Rosina Krannich, Gabriela Ionescu (Danovski), etc. Among those embodying male roles were Gelu Matei, Ionel Valea, Carol Apostolescu, and an authoritarian spirit, who frightened everyone at first but then joined the cause of revolution. This man, you understand, was interpreted by me. Over the entire atmosphere beautifully emphasized by the scene painting, the elegant feminine costumes, shone Floria Capsali in a role that breathed out optimism and that could only have fit her, like the shoe Cinderella. This ballet is a memory very dear to me. "…Mr. Trixy Checais, a great choreographic talent, Mr. Mitiţă Dumitrescu, another, Mr. Oleg Danovski, an opportune acquisition of the Romanian Opera House as well as the whole and very numerous cast, whom we cannot mention here in its entirety, brought together their contributions successfully to this memorable victory of Romanian music and of the Opera House." I worked a lot with Floria Capsali, who, I realize now, was very happy for my success. One of my first major productions was Delibes's "Lakme", a work that's still being played in that artistic conception. I remember Floria Capsali telling me then: "Hey, listen, two swords can't share the same sheath!" And she left the Opera House for the C.C.S. Ensemble, whose headquarters were on Lipscani Street, in the place where the "Romanian Rhapsody" Ensemble is now. I understood those words as recognizing and appreciating my value. Maybe it was her honest impulse to say this. It is certain that that's when a second major period in my life began. I forced myself to develop and to contribute to the assertion of the Romanian ballet school. I composed many ballets after that, caught by Floria's passion, but at the same time feeling the intimate need to create something new. If I look back, I can say I have achieved a lot. Many ballets. With very varied themes and dimensions. I have achieved little if I look towards the projects that have not come to life yet on stage, in the form of performances.

Universul Literar 10 October 1942

by Romeo Alexandrescu