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Non-independent Aida at Pleven. Koga se napusca?

[ Author Adrian Trasca ]

[ From category THE Articles ]
[ Subcategory OperaRail 2013 ]
[ Subcategory II OperaRail 2015 ]
[ Article date: 2015-05-30 ]
[ From city Plevna ]
[ Country Bulgaria ]

Romna English

Non-independent Aida at Pleven. Koga se napusca?

 1772 As I already mentioned, Ruse Opera goes on tours inside the country in smaller towns lacking opera theatres, custom I noticed at almost all the opera theatres in Bulgaria... and at too few in Romania! In June 2013, the Opera website announced that �Aida� was going to be played at Pleven and, as I�d wanted for a long time to visit the town about which every Romanian with a minimum education has heard in the known historical context, I �tied together the cultural and touristic events, as I usually do, and I crossed the Danube again.

Pleven has about 100.000 inhabitants � a little fewer than Piteşti, with which it resembles � and is on the way (by train) between Ruse and Sofia or Ruse and Vidin. It�s easy to reach there by car, but awfully difficult by train. I was in Craiova at the departure, I left at 7 in the morning to get to Bucharest at 10, from where I had a train at 12. 30. But the only train that crosses The Friendship�s Bridge at day time sleeps in Giurgiu for three quarters of an hour, in Ruse about the same, so I arrived in Pleven at 7 in the evening, travelling not less than 12 hours, although between the two towns the physical distance is only 155 km! Because Danube lies between them, the real distance, on the road, is of 306 km, but even for it 12 hours (or almost 7 from Bucharest) means a lot.

In the meantime (I am writing this after two years from the show), the Calafat-Vidin Bridge has been finalized and inaugurated and a Craiova-Vidin train (Budapesta-Sofia) has been introduced, so the distance from Craiova to Pleven has decreased to... 9 hours. Double in comparison with the car, by which, theoretically, it takes you 4.5 hours.

Pleven, together with Grivita and Rahova (Oreahovo in Bulgarian! ), are the places where the toughest battles were done and the most important victories were gained in the 1877-1878 War of Independence. For several hundreds of years the Romanian Principalities were under the influence or even under the domination of the Ottoman Empire, and on May the 10th 1877, the king Carol I declared Romanian independence from the powerful empire. As it couldn�t accept such a thing willingly, the independence had to be won on the battlefield, the Romanians, led on the battlefield by the king Carol I himself, joining the Russian army against the Sublime Porte, another name by which the Ottoman Empire is known. The joining took place when the Russians were on the point of losing the war, and were saved by the Romanian troops and by the sacrifices they did in two bloody battles, at Pleven and Griviţa.

The town is not quite beautiful, it has a typically East-European aspect, but with nice neighborhoods, especially in the centre, of course. There is a big fountain with several ramifications framed by a park and by areas with white marble slab stones, but which is a little old and misses some parts. At night, the fountain is lit and looks marvelous, creating a fairy tale atmosphere, a walk in the evening being a quite memorable delight. As a recommendation, Pleven is worth a day/ evening of tourism on the way to or coming from Sofia or Greece or in a tour through the Northern Bulgaria, but I wouldn�t recommend a special two-way trip there only for history! And this is because in the town there aren�t too many Romanian �marks� � I hardly found the bust of Valter Maracineanu and Mihail Cerchez, although I searched intensely � the Bulgarians were concerned about showing their gratitude to the Russians, forgetting that without Romanians� help they would have been defeated and Bulgaria would have been a Turkish province for at least another several decades. I found out that at Grivita the Romanians are evoked more, but I haven�t been there yet.

Pleven has a nice theatre, but no opera. There are held the local theatre shows and sometimes opera ones, only when a company visits the town, but then, as it was summer, "Aida" took place outdoors, in the summer garden of a museum. This was a disadvantage for the acoustics, of course, but it made possible for more spectators to attend � the area was full to the brim -, and for the moon, too. :-) And as the night was taking over Egypt � I beg your pardon, Bulgaria :-) -, the moon was more beautiful, having the chance of a clear sky and of being set exactly over the scene, as if part of the show. I don�t know how much the Bulgarians paid to have the moon in the cast! :-)

The translation was done with a projector (that I�d also seen at Ruse). The d�cor was pretty simplistic, which was understandable, given that it had been transported from Ruse - from around 150 km. Two high brown statues on each lateral side, other two, small, representing sphinxes, on the lateral sides, too, but to the back and barely visible, and in the middle a small wooden scene, with two levels separated by three steps and some Egyptian drawings on the small wooden wall from the back - afterwards I noticed that behind the scene there was a floor - I mean there is where the priests climbed up, so the scene had three levels. The orchestra was at the front, hiding a little the bottom part of the scene, an unimportant detail. There wasn�t anything unusual, which, in this case, was good. Radames in white, with a dark cloak and a golden fillet-crown over his forehead. Amneris, golden and with a light purple cloak, and Aida in a dress made of a single piece of fabric with wide grena and black stripes and others narrower, white. The priests were in white, and the same was the moon :-) To the left and to the right there were two canvas-screens for the projector, for the filmed show to be displayed in the same time, and those in the back to be able to see well.

At the big pause, the artists mingled with the public. I tried to determine Amneris to let alone that boy infatuated with Aida, but I couldn�t make myself understood... She didn�t speak Romanian.
"Koga se napusca?" was of no use :-), so we spoke in Italian :-) and agreed to have our photo taken, then to resume our roles: she to remain open-mouthed singing, I to remain open-mouthed in astonishment and listen :-)

Two days later, on my way back to Bucharest, I was supposed to see the same opera at Ruse, in the open air, at the Summer Theatre. It wasn�t going to be, because that evening at Ruse it rained intermittently and the show was canceled � of course, the rain stopped after everybody left home -, but I remained with a very sweet memory from that day. When I arrived in front of Ruse Opera House, there were several people and a� camel! :-) I hung around like a true Romanian � although I think it was more appropriate to say �like a true Bulgarian� :-) � and after a while, the two caretakers made the camel to walk, heading towards the Summer Theatre. I deduced that she � or he, because maybe it was a he-camel :-) � was going to climb up on the scene at a given moment, for the �Triumphal March�, I guessed. So, together with the crowd of onlookers with which I had mingled, needing no Bulgarian citizenship :-), I crossed the town right through the centre, with all of us stopping, of course, whenever the serenissima camel decided not to go any further. :-)

The same d�cor from Pleven was set two days later on the scene of the Summer Theatre in Ruse, but there, as I wrote, the show was canceled because of the camel�s prayers towards Fta and Isis, who listened to her and sent the rain! :-) It seems logical to me, camels are, from the emotional point of view, closer to the Egyptian gods than the Bulgarians or Romanians. :-)

�Koga se napusca?" is used at the hotel and it means "When is the checkout time?" As a receptionist doesn�t have to know English, French or Italian at all! And then you use your Bulgarian on the smartfeon � I beg your pardon!, smartphone. :-)

"Tuka" - "Here", "Etaj" - "Floor", "Staia" - "Room", "Svobodni stai" - "Free rooms", "Basejn�t" - "Pool" and, very (un) useful, "Televizor�t ne raboti! " - "The TV doesn�t work! " :-)
I wouldn�t have written about this, but, look, two years have passed and I, without any effort, am still able to ask in Bulgarian when is the checkout time. :-)

How the receptionist answered me? I gave her a piece of paper and she wrote the hour on it! :-) ) )

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