Romeo and Juliet. Text: William Shakespeare; Conductor: Balazs Stauroczky; Choir Master: Laszlo Keringer; Gabriel Popescu;Choreography: Eva Duda; Set design: Bela Gotz; Costumes: Rita Velich; Light design: Peter Somfai; Actors: George Papagheorghe (Romeo), Vago Bernadett Adina Sima (Lady Montague), Victor Bucur (Mercutio), Ernest Fazekas (Tybalt), Andras Demeter (Lorenzo), Adrian Nour (Benvolio) and the Hungarians: Polyak Lilla (the Nurse), Furedi Nikolett (Lady Capulet), Zsolt Homonnay (Paris); Venue: National Operetta Theatre (TNO), in Bucharest (col. with the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre from Budapest).
Romeo and Juliet, the world famous musical created by Gérard Presgurvic, based on Shakespeare’s play, premiered in Paris in 2001 and has, since then, been staged in important Theatres in the UK, Russia, the Netherlands, Hungary, South Korea, Austria and Mexico. These performances were seen by more than 5 million spectators and were awarded numerous prizes. The recorded versions have become platinum, gold and diamond albums, with sales of over 7 million copies. The most recent version was staged at the “Ion Dacian” National Operetta Theatre (TNO) in Bucharest, in collaboration with the Operetta and Musical Theatre from Budapest. The two theatres combined their performances for several bilingual shows played by Hungarian and Romanian casts. This marathon of both force and beauty was very well received, praised by both public and press.
Having mixed casts, the Shakespearian tragedy ofRomeo and Juliet took on a special atmosphere and significance. The conflict between the rival families and the lovers’ feelings transcends our troubled times, so full of anxiety, lacking faith and love.
In the spirit of this statement, the director KERO confessed: “I was convinced that all these talented artists from Bucharest, as well as my faithful team from Budapest, who have acted together with so much passion in this performance, would fall in love with each other when they met. I think that what happened here is of great significance. We have proved that we can embrace and shake hands, crossing all language and communication barriers. That is neither easy, nor simple. This performance is about love, and this type of love has a wider significance for me in these moments, when two nations, two theatres fall in love with one another. I believe we are on our way to achieving something great.”
The encounter was also favourable in terms of artistic performance. The staging caused many exceptional moments of solo, duo or group recitals, which were rewarded by the audiences with long bouts of cheering and applause.
A lot of visual and audio seduction goes on due to the 111 performers who sing and dance live. The captivating music of voices and instruments created the excitement and emotion as usually seen in premieres.
The charismatic leads George Papagheorghe (Romeo) and Vago Bernadett (Juliet) delighted with their stage presence and their remarkable vocal qualities, and the actors circling around the couple expressed genuine feeling and drama – the Romanians: Adina Sima (Lady Montague), Victor Bucur (Mercutio), Ernest Fazekas (Tybalt), Andras Demeter (Lorenzo), Adrian Nour (Benvolio) and the Hungarians: Polyak Lilla (the Nurse), Furedi Nikolett (Lady Capulet), Zsolt Homonnay (Paris).
On the subject of the performance and the skilful artistic craft displayed by the Romanians, the Hungarian press wrote:
Romeo and Juliet―“an encounter between two nations, a happy choice that allows us to see actors from two neighbouring countries,” Simona Nae―“an extraordinary Juliet,” Georgiana Mototolea―“a true diva in her performance as Lady Capulet,” Orest Pislariu―“a perfect choice as Capulet”.
The performers were captivating with their technique and the poetry displayed. The stagings from Bucharest and Budapest, having caused smiles as well as tears, acted as demonstrations of taste, artfully elaborated with sensibility and artistic spirit by the director KERO, a master of the genre.
Under his guidance, Romeo and Juliet has gained in virtuosity and brilliance through this sui generis dialogue.
A “battle won” which, we hope, will lead to other successful events. TNO is about to enter the rehearsals with Notre Dame de Paris. The famous musical based on Victor Hugo’s novel, with a prestigious worldwide scenic and discographic career, will be produced by the same French team responsible for the Parisian premiere at the Palais de Congres.
Miklós Gábor Kerényi – KERO is best known for staging Schonberg’s Miss Saigon at the Open-air Theatre of Szeged, using the special effect of a real helicopter landing on stage. His activity includes numerous opera, operetta and musical performances, staged at important theatres like the Hungarian Opera House, Budapest Open Air Theatre, Bloomsbury Theatre, Budapest Operetta Theatre and the Open-air theatre from Szeged. Among his most important and acclaimed productions we find: Don Carlos andMacbeth by Verdi, Faust by Gounot, Madame Butterfly by Puccini, Elisabeth by Sylvester Levay, Mozart!by Levay-Kunze, Romeo and Juliet by Presgurvic, West Side Story by Bernstein, The Gipsy Princess andCountess Maritza by Kalman and The Bat, by Johann Strauss.
In 2008, he made the first Hungarian world-wide musical, based on the world famous Shakespeare storyMidsummer Night’s Dream, also being one of the authors in this new play. He received the Erkel Ferenc Prize, the Bartok-Pasztory Prize and the Kossuth Prize, which is the greatest award given by the Hungarian state.
Several of his productions were performed in the UK, Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, USA. Last year Puccini’s Madame Butterfly became a great success in Japan too. While working on his PhD at the Budapest Theatre and Film University, he is also in charge of teaching the group of musical-opera director students.
The Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre
In 1923 the city of Budapest decided to give the operetta genre a home of its own. With the opening of the Metropolitan Operetta Theatre the Hungarian capital saw the beginning of the “Silver Operetta Age.” The most important aspect in the history of the Theatre was to cherish the traditions of the classic operetta, while enriching it with modern artistic solutions. Next to Vienna, Budapest is the second capital of the operetta and anyone who comes to this Theatre can witness the high quality of the performances staged here. Starting with the mid-sixties this multitalented ensemble has been presenting musicals of great critical and popular acclaim: My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly!, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof,Funny Girl, Cabaret, La Cage Aux Follies, The Sound of Music, Somewhere in Europe to name but a few.
During Miklós Gábor Kerényi (KERO)’s Managerial activity, the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre has become more than a venue for musical shows. In the past years it has grown into a modern European music theatre with two branches, where traditional values are represented by a new operetta concept, while modernity is present in the literary and historical musicals. This Theatre is one of the centers of Budapest’s cultural and social life with nearly 500 shows a year frequented by nearly half a million spectators every year and tickets sales nearing 100%. In 2006/2007, 492 performances entertained 401.079 viewers.
The Theatre’s musical and operetta productions are equally successful. Romeo and Juliet, Mozart!, The Beauty and the Beast, Wedding Dance, Rudolf, Elisabeth and Abigail are sold out months ahead, whileThe Bat, Countess Maritza, The Merry Widow and The Kissing Woman are awarded with standing ovations.
In the past few years the Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre has become a renowned and internationally sought-after Company. Its operettas and musicals tour in different Theatres and at different European festivals regularly. The Theatre travels to Japan every year, but has also performed in the United States and several Asian countries. Co-productions are frequent with Vienna, Saint Petersburg, Prague, Yekaterinburg and now in Bucharest.
The “Ion Dacian” National Operetta Theatre in Bucharest
It was founded in 1950. Throughout the 60 seasons, 160 premieres have seen the footlights out of which 28 were Romanian operettas. The repertory fan sums up 100 titles varying from the French school to modern musical, from classical ballet to contemporary dance-theatre.
The new managerial team that came in 2006 and has the director Razvan Dinca as General Manager and theatrolog Alina Moldovan as Marketing and Communication Manager, created a new modern look to the institution. Nowadays, the Theatre has managed to become in just a short period of time an important cultural centre of Bucharest, result that came after a series of projects and programs dedicated to both its artists and its audience. Starting with the programs specially designed to bring the artistic act closer to the public (the Operetta near youprogram), the coproductions, the colaborations, the tours and the international exchanges (theOpen Operetta program), the new approach to classic operettas in order to adapt to the present (The Gypsy Voievode, Countess Maritza, The Merry Widow), the new musical productions (Cabaret, Broadway-Bucharest, What it means to be … Bunbury), the tradition (concert performances such as Invitation to Waltz, Ball at Prince Orlovski’s, Imagine Romania), the innovation and the experiment (The Vysotsky Odyssey), through all these the “Ion Dacian” National Operetta Theatre intended to create a new and attractive cultural strategy that promotes its unique value and the importance of musical performances nation and worldwide.
Amongst the most important initiatives the “Ion Dacian” National Operetta Theatre has taken we mention the EMTU, the European Musical Theatres’ Union, as well as the organizing of the International Festival for Musical performing Arts Life is beautiful! and a 3 years project that will have Academia Scala di Milano as an artistic partner.
 Ludmila Patlanjoglu is Theatre critic and historian, as well as University Professor (with PhD) and Head of the Theatre Science Department at the “I. L. Caragiale” National University of Drama and Film Arts in Bucharest, Romania. She was former President of IATC- Romanian Section (1999-2008) and Member of IATC’s Executive Committee (2001-2007). She is currently honorary member of the IATC – Romanian Section board (2008 – present) and a Member of the Romanian Theatre Artists’ Association (UNITER). She directed the 2002 and 2003 editions of the “I. L. Caragiale” National Theatre Festival in Romania and the 21st Congress of IATC organized in Bucharest (November, 2003). She launched the IATC’s THALIA Prize (designer Dragos Buhagiar) and is a Member of Editorial Board of the Critical Stages, a web journal edited by IATC.
 Miklós Gábor Kerényi – KERO is the General and Artistic Manager of the Budapest Operetta Theatre and, in the last ten years, he has also been the director of the Hungarian State Opera House. His successful opera and musical productions made him a famous stage director in Hungary and abroad. He got his diploma in directing at the Theatre and Film Academy and a diploma in singing at the Bela Bartok College of Music.