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ROMANIA: ARTS AND CULTURE :: HOME ::

Don't miss the FAMOUS ROMANIANS pages!

CIMEC Institute for Cultural Memory
Menu includes Archaeology, Ethnography, Monuments, Museums, Books, History, Numismatics, and Performing Arts. Site includes an extensive list of Romanian museums with a Web presence. (Main link) Updated: February 23, 2010.

Cultural Aspects -- from ICI.ro
Intro and discussion by sections: Romanian literature, fine arts, music, architecture, folklore, theatre, opera, ballet, cinematography, and more.

Historical Monuments in Romania
This is a project of an association -- The Friends of the Historical Monuments in Romania -- which aims to build a database of images and descriptions about registered class A and B Romanian historical monuments. Volunteers contribute images and other information. Added: February 23, 2010.

The Eliznik Romania Pages
From Liz Mellish and Nick Green, dance teachers and researchers of Balkan dances, music, and folklore. Don't miss their section on traditional costume! It also includes a rather impressive section on leather dressing, as well as a historical background on the use of textiles and various yarns. Added: October 4, 2005.

Romania -- Culture. Posted by the Embassy of Romania in Oslo, Norway
Literature, Books, theatre, Music, Arts, and more.

Romania at the 1999 Smithsonian Folklife Festival
John Rausch, who has done a great job with his site on Maramures, happened to be in Washington DC at the time of this festival. Here are his pictures of Romanians building a traditional Maramures church on the Mall! He also took shots of folk dancing and tells a little about their instruments and tuica in mineral water bottles. To learn more about Romania's participation at the Smithsonian Festival in 1999, see the presentation of the event on www.Romanian-Folklife.ro. Added: May 30, 2002.


BOOKS & More

VISUAL ARTS

The National Museum of Art of Romania is home to many quality collections. Now you can take a virtual tour of the highlights of the following sections: European Art Gallery, Medieval Romanian Art, Modern Romanian Art, Islamic Art, Chinese Art, Japanese Art, Drawings and Prints, and Decorative Arts. Those whose interest is piqued by modern art should not miss the K.H. Zambaccian Museum. This other, smaller, museum houses an exceptional selection of works by leading modern Romanian artists, as well as 19 works by foremost modern French painters. Added: February 23, 2010.

Romanian Graffiti: Dan Perjovschi's scrawls on the ROM's walls
In an installation-cum-performance this February, Dan Perjovschi has drawn his famous cartoons on the walls of the Institute of Contemporary Culture at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto), during visiting hours. More about Dan Perjovschi: Late News as well as about the artist's background in this press release from ROM. Added: February 28, 2010.

Mircea Cantor's exhibition The Need for Uncertainty will open in London at Camden Arts Centre on February 20. Here's an introduction to the Romanian artist and the works featured in this exhibition. Added: January 29, 2009.

Night of the Museums is coming up, complementing well an exhibition of Rembrandt paintings, drawings and prints at the National Art Museum. The exhibition commemorates four hundred years since the birth of the artist. By Otilia Haraga, Bucharest Daily News, May 19, 2006. Added: May 19, 2006.


» FILMMAKING

Romanian film has gained momentum in the past few years.

Film editor and sound engineer Andrei Dăscălescu made his directorial debut at the end of 2008 with the feature-length documentary Constantin and Elena. Rather than a director per se, in this film Dăscălescu is more like an etnographic observer who does his best to remain unobtrusive, and not alter (much) the life captured on camera. The protagonists are Dăscălescu's grandparents, who live in northeastern Romania, in a village outside the Moldavian city of Piatra Neamţ. Their film documents a year of their life, recording their routines, their dialogues and singing, their ways of expressing their love to each other. Learn more about the documentary Constantin and Elena on its dedicated Web site (which includes a few short clips) and see the timetable of screenings, past and future, here. For further info go to the film's Facebook account. Added: March 31, 2010.

Police, Adjective (Poliţist, Adjectiv) won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. David D'Arcy writes about Corneliu Porumboiu's latest film, mentioning some of the director's own assessments, and comparing Police, Adjective with Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days. He observes that "Porumboiu's films share a texture with those of his peers in New Romanian cinema -- everyday situations in zero decor, a rhythm that imitates real time, endings that lack any triumph." Read more here: San Francisco Chronicle, January 10, 2010. Added: January 19, 2010.

Jiggers: Here Comes the Dictionary!
In his New York Times review, A. O. Scott nails the anticlimactic drama behind the -- carefully dosed yet seemingly generously and indiscriminately injected -- drabness in Police, Adjective (Poliţist, Adjectiv), Corneliu Porumboiu's latest film. He appreciates that "This can be called realism, but that sturdy old word is not quite sufficient to describe Police, Adjective, which is at once utterly plain, even affectless, and marvelously rich. Mr. Porumboiu’s style might be called proceduralist. Like Cristi writing his reports, Mr. Porumboiu scrupulously records details in a manner that only seems literal-minded because his technique is invisible, and his intelligence resolutely unshowy." December 23, 2009. Added: January 19, 2010.

An indelible Romanian film from 2008 is Silent Wedding (Nunta mută), marking the directorial debut of actor Horaţiu Mălăele. It’s a movie steeped in the atmosphere of the first decade of Communism, a film about an event that took place “somewhere on the border between reality and fantasy” (Mălăele) – the ban on festivities following Stalin’s death. Silent Wedding is a dark yet humorous film about humans turning into grotesque puppets that dance to the tunes of the master ideology, about the violence of history encroaching onto seemingly unshakable social customs and attitudes, about carefree love in dangerous times, about trying to evade historical reality through the power of sarcasm, the magic of a circus, or the dark comedy of a wedding celebrated silently. It’s oneiric yet stark. Silent and loud at the same time, playful yet sad. It’s a potent film that owes its success to a good story told and directed in an inspired way, and to consistently good acting that that the camera follows along like a lover, bent on bearing fully the brunt of a fist on the table as well as the foreboding in the eyes of a bride.

Mălăele intended to create nothing less than a film about “life, death, and Truth,” “a film to be enjoyed equally by old and young (children), stupid and wise.” Aiming that high can be the perfect recipe for kitsch, and yet Silent Wedding, a film that employs a rich form to probe important themes, is never pretentious. It changes registers constantly, quotes and parodies theatrical and filmmaking styles and genres (magic realism, pantomime, commedia dell’arte, slapstick comedy; surrealist, propaganda, or documentary film), but it manages to strike the perfect balance between drama and comic relief, one that doesn’t end up mocking the important messages of the story but rather helps convey the deeper meanings of these messages. Silent Wedding is an engaging exercise in filmmaking that coaxes emotion and reflection.

With Meda Victor, Alexandru Potocean, Valentin Teodosiu, Alexandru Bindea, Tudorel Filimon, Nicolae Urs, Luminiţa Gheorghiu, Dan Condurache, Doru Ana, Victor Rebengiuc, Tamara Buciuceanu. Screenplay by Adrian Lustig and Horaţiu Mălăele.
Added: January 19, 2009.

Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth is completed, and reviews have sprouted on various Web sites. Rotten Tomatoes offers a terse synopsis, a director's statement, and links to some of these reviews. For a detailed plot synopsis (with spoilers), see, for instance, Emanuel Levy's review. He compares this philosophically-dense, non-linear film to benchmarks in film history such as Alain Resnais's Hiroshima Mon Amour, Last Year at Marienbad and Providence, Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique and the Three Colors trilogy, and Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. Youth Without Youth is based on a novella by the Romanian-born writer, philosopher and historian of religion Mircea Eliade. Coppola wrote, directed and produced the film.

Looking Plainly at Life Under Communist Rule
Cristian Mungiu's second feature 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (4 luni, 3 săptamîni şi 2 zile) opened in Canada. Michael Posner shares part of the plot of the movie and introduces us to the director, who built a background in literature and journalism before moving to radio, TV, and filmmaking. Interviewed, Mungiu shared a few thoughts about his approach to filmmaking: "I start with stories of people I know. Eventually, a wider meaning emerges, but I don't start there. . . . I don't want generally to work with people who are recognized as 'actors,' because then they are actors and not the characters." Indeed, the lead actors in 4 Months are professional yet not big names (yet). According to this article, Mungiu will take a traveling caravan around the country to show the movie in places with no movie theaters. (While there certainly are such places in Romania, I doubt that the total number of movie theaters in Romania is 35 as this author argues.) The director plans to make a few other movies about everyday life in Communist Romania, focusing on "how people acted and thought." By Michael Posner, Globe and Mail, October 31, 2007. Added: November 3, 2007.

Hollywood Awards Launches the Award Season. Zach Snyder's 300 and Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days Are Among Winners
Cristian Mungiu's film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days won the Hollywood World Award at the 11th edition of the Hollywood Film Festival. Mungiu also won the Palm d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Mungiu's film is about an illegal abortion in Communist Romania. Late Cristian Nemescu's film California Dreamin' (Endless) starring Armand Assante won Cannes's Un certain regard prize. Hollywood Film Festival News, October 23, 2007. Added: October 25, 2007.

Cristi Puiu's second feature-length film The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Moartea domnului Lăzărescu) won Cannes' Un certain regard prize as well as of accolades at several other international film festivals of note. Here are some reviews: Jay Weissberg's in Variety, Leo Goldsmith's on notcoming.com. See also the postings on filmref.com, as well as the ones on RottenTomatoes. Added: October 4, 2005.

Read a synopsis of Cristi Puiu's debut Stuff and Dough (Marfa şi banii, 2001), which won two awards at the 2001 edition of the International Thessaloniki Film Festival. Meet Cristi Puiu in an interview on the pages of the International Film Festival in Bratislava (2001).
Added: May 13, 2002.

More about Romanian film online... cover See Kristin Scott Thomas in this 1994 production directed by Romanian director Lucian Pintilie. Read more about An Unforgettable Summer (1994) on Chicago's SunTimes.com. Review by Roger Ebert, February 10, 1995.

If you want starker realism, try The Oak (Balanţa, France/Romania, 1992), by the same director. Read a review on Rotten Tomatoes. By Richard Harrington, Washington Post Staff Writer, August 14, 1993.

See a movie clip of Pintilie's The Afternoon of a Torturer (2001) on Walker Art Center's Web site and get fast facts on the movie and its director on a Thessaloniki Film Festival page. (More reviews on the British Film institute's Web site of Regus London Film Festival.)



THEATRE

The theatre for a New Audience presents Andorra, directed by Liviu Ciulei
Andorra by Max Frish goes to New York in a new translation by Michael Feingold and with Liviu Ciulei as director. A production of the theatre for a New Audience, now in its 23rd season. Added: May 24, 2002.

Romanian theatre Group Performs in Australia
The Romanian theatre company D'AYA is in Canberra for the Multicultural Contemporary Art Festival. The troupe -- Adriana Trandafir, Gabriel Fatu, Ioana Marchidan -- will perform Ionesco's The Chairs, as directed by Chris Simion. The show has already been received several awards in 2004 and 2005. By Dana Milea, Bucharest Daily News, February 14, 2006. Added: February 14, 2006.


MUSIC

For lovers of Romanian folk music, a few days back, on March 7, Palace Hall hosted the folk gala "Om Bun" (Good Man). Some of those attending have posted videos on YouTube. Here are some of the highlights:

Maria Gheorghiu singing Amália Rodrigues's "Canção do Mar"
Alexandru Andries singing "Asta e tot" (That's All [I want])
Daniel Iancu -- "Vine valul, imi ia calul" (The Wave Comes, Takes My Horse) (recording from December 2009)

There was much more (the show lasted five hours, with no intermission), but since the songs are in Romanian, I just wanted to give you an idea of their flavor and Maria Gheorghiu's beautiful singing. Added: March 12, 2010.

The 19th edition of the Enescu Festival will start off on August 30, 2009 with a production of Enescu's Oedipe. Listen to Oedipe in this remarkable 1989 EMI recording (released in 1990) with the Philharmonic Orchestra of Monte Carlo directed by Lawrence Foster. With José van Dam, Barbara Hendricks, Brigitte Fassbaender et al. Read more about Enescu and his Oedipe in the Famous Romanians section of this Web site. Added: January 29, 2009.

ArtLine.ro has posted a few words about soprano Angela Gheorghiu's career. Here's the DVD of Franco Zeffirelli's well-received 2008 production of La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, with Angela Gheorghiu as Mimi: Puccini: La Bohème (Live from the Met) More about Angela Gheorghiu in the Famous Romanians section of this Web site. Added: January 29, 2009.

The 17th edition of the Enescu Festival galvanized the city of Bucharest between September 4 and September 20. From one concert hall to another, from performances by most highly regarded musicians to young talents performing outdoors on a stage near the Atheneum, from symposia to movie projections, this event was graced by some of the most highly regarded musicians in the world. It was a celebration for us all, complete with TV transmissions and interviews and traffic disruptions at the "Festival Square." Read about the Enescu Festival on the ISTC Web site, where you can also find out more about ISIC discounts in Romania. Added: October 4, 2005.

Musical Life and Female Composers in Romania -- by Irina Odagescu
The article was published in the October 1994 issue of ILWC Journal. Brief but informative introduction to Education, Philharmonics, Symphony Orchestras, Chamber Music, Musical theatres, International Festivals, Personalities of Romanian Musical Life, and Female Composers in Romania -- including Myriam Marbe, Carmen Petra Basacopol, Felicia Donceanu, Liana Alexandra, Doina Rotaru, Maia Ciobanu, Livia Teodorescu Ciocanea, and Irina Odagescu herself.

Wondering which band from Romania sells best abroad? It just might be Taraf de Haidouks.
One of several CDs released by the band, The Continuing Adventures of Taraf de Haidouks (CD+DVD) of March 2006 is getting rave reviews on Amazon. According to the description on Amazon, the DVD includes concert footage, interviews with fans (one of whom is Johnny Depp, co-star in the 2000 movie The Man Who Cried) and footage from Romania. The CD contains live recordings.

Taraf de Haidouks is the French-styled name of Taraful Haiducilor din Clejani, a 12-member Gypsy band from the village of Clejani, Romania. Read more about them here as well as in Sean O'Hagan's older article "Brigands steal the show" about this "Band of Brigands", a piece which includes an enthusiastic review of a 2002 performance in Rome. In his words, "if Rimbaud were alive today, this, you imagine, would be his favorite band."

A new CD, titled Maskarada, will also be available in September 2007. Added: May 12, 2002 + August 21, 2007.

Golden Stag Festival in Brasov, Romania
The Golden Stag is a pop-rock-dance festival, the greatest of its kind in Romania. In 2001 the budget went over a million US dollars.
Most foreign and Romanian guests at the festival are singers and bands Romanians have followed closely for years and years in times (before 1989) when they were not able to see foreign artists perform in Romania. Others are younger artists, appealing to those who can barely remember Communism. Here's a list of artists that came to the Golden Stag:
1992 -- Patricia Kaas, Johnny Logan, Linda Martin, Ricardo Fogli, Sister Sledge, Angela Similea, Gabriel Cotabita
1993 -- Trie Utami, Toto Cutugno, Nicu Alifantis, Dionne Warwick, Holograf, Kylie Minogue, Jerry Lee Lewis
1994 -- Silvia Dumitrescu, Boy George, Paul Young, Culture Beat, Loredana Groza, Ray Charles, James Brown, Christina Aguilera (then 16 and at the start of her international career)
1995 -- Status Quo, 2Unlimited, The Temptations, MC Hammer, Gyuri Pascu, Kenny Rogers
1996 -- Tom Jones, Vaya con Dios, MN8, Coolio, Soul II Soul
1997 -- Waldo, Sheryl Crow, Gheorghe Zamfir, Diana Ross
2001 -- Directia 5, INXS, 3Rei Sud-Est, UB 40, Holograf, Soca Boys, Stefan Banica Jr., Cyndi Lauper.
Current working link (as of October 4, 2005) about the Golden Stag (of 2001) here.

Romanian musical instruments on LarkintheMorning.com
Pan pipes, Romanian frulas, Romanian mandolins, and more, available together with instruction guides. Added: August 7, 2007.

Deep Purple concert in Cotroceni Stadium on October 31
Deep Purple will start a European tour with a concert in Bucharest. This summer the Rolling Stones performed in Bucharest on the Lia Manoliu stadium, in front of an audience of 60,000. Bucharesters, blown away by the intensity of the show, may have seen the last of the Rolling Stones in concert: the latter are rumored to have quit touring once their 2-year "A Bigger Bang" concluded in London on August 26. To see a list of musicians who have given concerts in Romania and their honoraria see this article in Libertatea (in Romanian). Those who commanded the highest paychecks are the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, Eros Ramazzotti, Rod Stewart, Depeche Mode, George Michael, Metallica, Elton John, Phil Collins, Enrique Iglesias, and Julio Iglesias. Added: August 29, 2007.


LITERATURE

Romanian Poetry -- from Romanian Voice
Romanian Voice is primarily dedicated to bringing Romanian poetry online -- in five languages now. Find here English translations of Romanian poems by Mihai Eminescu, Nichita Stanescu, George Cosbuc and Nicolae Sirius.

At the Court of Yearning: Poems [by Lucian Blaga]
(Ohio State University Press, 1989)
Perhaps you were wondering what Romania's poets were writing in those days before WWII. Here's one of the greatest voices, Lucian Blaga, in Andrei Codrescu's translation. Not something that sells awfully well on Amazon, but something that any lover of Romanian modern culture should know about. Added: October 7, 2002.

Romanian Fairy Tales
Traditional Romanian fairy tales retold in English by Marguerite L. M. Wolf. Read Prince Charming and The Golden Haired, The Golden Stag, and The Old Man's Daughter.

Nina Porzucki, Peace Corps volunteer, shares a Romanian fairy tale, Youth without Old Age, and Life without Death. Added: May 19, 2006.


To be included in a to-come Science section

Archeology in Romania
Go to the mail page, or here for a story of Dacian Gold. If you're interested in Neolithic Art, go here to read a brief feature on Art and Magic in Prehistory and browse through images of objects found on historical Romania's territory.

Ad Astra: An Online Project for the Romanian Scientific Community
A meeting place for Romanian researchers. See who your colleagues are, what grants are available, or involve this growing Romanian scientific community in your projects. Added: February 5, 2002.



FILM









Francis Ford Coppola is in Romania to direct his Youth Without Youth movie, based on Mircea Eliade's novella. "I was excited to discover, in this tale by Eliade, the key themes that I most hope to understand better: time, consciousness and the dreamlike basis of reality," says Coppola, quoted in an article on MovieWeb. The film stars Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pup Fiction), Bruno Ganz (Hitler in Der Untergang), Alexandra Maria Lara (Der Untergang), and Marcel Iures (An Unforgettable Summer, The Peacemaker, Hart's War). Added: October 11, 2005.




MUSIC AND OPERA










BOOKS

cover

Romanian Folk Art: A Guide to Living Traditions
By Karsten McNulty. Aid to Artisans, 2000.

This book offers splendid pictures of Romanian crafts objects, tools and artisans, as well as of everyday life in Romania, which the author accompanies with brief descriptions of the techniques. Karsten D. McNulty spent two years in Romania as a Peace Corps volunteer. She learned the language and then traveled the country to learn about Romanian crafts from those who make them.







Copyright © 2001-2010 Raluca Preotu. All rights reserved.