Third minister to leave Ciolos Cabinet: Opera ballet dancers force Culture Minister to step down

Premier Dacian Ciolos asked Vlad Alexandrescu to leave


While President Iohannis had just signed the decree appointing Cristian Ghinea as the new European Funds Minister, another member of the Ciolos Government, the third, was filing his resignation at the Premier’s request. The minister concerned was Culture Minister Vlad Alexandrescu, who was thus censured for the inefficient way in which he handled the Opera scandal and for failure to solve it.

Government Spokesperson Dan Suciu stated on Wednesday that efforts are being made for the situation to return to normal at the Opera, and that the Premier and Vlad Alexandrescu had several discussions on this topic. Suciu pointed out that Dacian Ciplos and Deputy Premier Vasile Dincu are closely following the situation. Moreover, Dan Suciu emphasised that a new leadership will be appointed at the National Opera of Bucharest, one that would ease the tension.

Suciu confirmed that the Opera’s activity will be audited next week by the Government’s Audit Body, following the dissatisfactions sparked by possible irregularities within the institution. Deputy Premier Vasile Dincu announced the information on Tuesday, after the failed attempt to reach a conflict resolution with the protesters at the Opera House. The protesters are split into two camps – one that backs the former leadership and one that backs Johan Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru.

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.

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