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July 26, 2021

Deputy Premier Vasile Dincu tries to arbitrate National Opera scandal

Deputy Premier Vasile Dincu met the artists of the Bucharest National Opera on Tuesday in an effort to ease tension and find a consensus in order for the scandal to end and for things to return to normal.

The employees, who protested against the dismissal from office of acting Director Vlad Conta and acting Deputy Director Tiberiu Soare, filled up the Big Hall of the Opera House and talked about their grievances with Deputy PM Dincu.

Vasile Dincu told the protesters that he was dispatched as mediator and said he will have a conversation with Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos for the latter to send his control body to see what is happening at the Opera House in Bucharest.

“We have …. and I will suggest to the prime minister … because there is a control body of the prime minister and I will suggest [sending the team to the Opera House],” Dincu said after almost two hours of talks with protesting Opera employees.

He added that the team should come to the Opera House next days.

“I understand there is an administrative solution that will meet what you demand,” said Dincu.

Bucharest National Opera artists have recently cancelled three shows and the institution has had three interim directors over the last two weeks. Likewise, the artists that took to the stage on Sunday evening, in a show that commemorated 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, wore white armbands as a sign of protest, and informed the spectators about the reasons of the protest, which include their demands for an audit into the Opera’s economic activity in the last three years and the appointment of a ballet coordinator other than Johan Kobborg.

The Opera employees’ top demands, conveyed to the Deputy Premier, consist of a new leadership, capable to represent the institution at international level, and a thorough audit of the financial situation.

UNITER actor and president Ion Caramitru sent a letter to Premier Dacian Ciolos on Monday. In it, on behalf of UNITER’s Senate, he demands the resignation of Culture Minister Vlad Alexandrescu, against the backdrop of the scandal at the National Opera. Artists accuse the minister of not wanting to reform the institutions and of seeking to “demolish” them instead. Actors George Mihaita, Ilinca Tomoroveanu, Virginiea Mirea, Ana Ciontea, director Tompa Gabor, theatre critics Marina Constantinescu and Alice Georgescu and scenographer Dragos Buhagiar are among the signatories of the letter.

For several weeks now, the Bucharest National Opera has been in the midst of a scandal involving conductors Vlad Conta and Tiberiu Soare (who represent the new leadership) and ballet dancer Johan Kobborg, who was coordinating the Ballet Company. Freshly appointed BNO interim director, Tiberiu Soare decided to erase Kobborg’s name from the institution’s website, where he was listed as director of the Ballet Corps, arguing that such a position does not exist in the organisational chart. This is how the never-ending scandal started. Because of the scandal, Opera employees are protesting and refusing to take to the stage.

Ballet dancer Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg, the coordinator of BNO’s ballet band, have been included on a list of personae non-grata in the institution.

Thus, according to the document signed by BNO’s Human Resources Director and sent to the institution’s security office, the two artists are no longer allowed to enter the building starting on April 25.

In the meantime, Bucharest National Opera publicly apologizes for its inability to operate “honorably” and hopes that future leadership will identify those responsible for the situation in which the institution of culture is.

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