Top world soprano visits Royal Opera House Muscat -
By Maurice Gent -
It took more than a decade in the planning and building, but the first season has already proved to Oman, the Gulf Region and indeed the whole world our nation has many new and very valid reasons for celebrating the creation of a Royal Opera House.
For the last performance of the season we have a world renowned soprano, Angela Gheorghiu, who has sung in top opera houses around the world, both in Europe and the United States. Indeed her story is very much linked to the birth of a new nation, which arose after the defeat of East Euope’s worst and most egotistic dictator.
I visited Romania in the days of Ceaucescu and can well understand how any talent of any sort was suppressed. Of all the countries I visited as BBC Correspondent in Eastern Europe just before the Iron Curtain collapsed Romania was by the far the most suppressive demanding total loyalty to the Ceaucescu cult.
Yet this most repressive of environments did not stop a talent of outstanding strength and beauty developing in the dark days. Perhaps the most difficult challenge of my life was offering both Ceaucescu and his wife an official handshake as the BBC’s representative at the last Communist Party Congress before their fall.
The tough early days has meant a sometimes tempestuous and tough career, when she has on occasions stood up for her own rights, frequently telling world famous directors how a role should be performed.
Do not, however, expect conflict and arguments tonight for she is in concert showing her talents as she chooses, proving that she has arguably the most impressive and sensuous soprano voice of her generation. She is now recognised in her own country as a person of great talent and has been awarded the Star of Romania Medal by Romania’s now elected President. Sometimes good does triumph over evil.
In her much publicised career she has visited the Middle East as a UN Messenger of Peace singing under the Patronage of HRH Princess Haya Bint al Hussein of Jordan with her voice resounding around the renowned archaeological ruins of Petra. It was part of a programme of charity concerts, which continued, despite the death of Luciano Pavarotti, who originally inspired them.
Her voice has been described as ‘feather light and creamy, yet with a core of steel’. The steely quality of conviction was indeed vital when spending the early years of your life under a repressive dictatorship. Certainly, as a foreigner I felt that every Romanian was a spy, especially when I was told by the Romanian authorities, I had to do a 30 minute interview with the President for the BBC before he went to sleep between the sheets at Buckingham Palace.
To return, however, to the main subject — the superb, powerful and unforgettable voice of Angela Gheorghiu. It is a story of genius being triumphant, fighting with extreme determination for what she considers artistically true and relevant.
The Royal Opera House, Muscat has had many world famous musicians, singers and dancers in the course of a triumphantly successful season, It is good to end on a very high note indeed.