PRESIDENT OF THE
On Hariclea Darclée's 135 th anniversary, in
1995, her native city of Braila honored the memory of the legendary soprano by organizing the
First National Voice Competition named after her. The huge success of the event, with
over one hundred competitors, convinced its organizers to turn it into an international
The First Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition, with 167 candidates from 25
countries, took place in Braila in 1997, in the same theatre in which the great artist made
her debut in 1881, at age 21.
Braila was renowned for its cultural and artistic
life, applauding Sarah Bernhardt or De Max, and for its passionate love for singing and
the human voice. Many outstanding Romanian artists, Matei Millo, Elena Teodorini, George
Niculescu-Basu, Petre Stefanescu-Goanga, and foreign stars, including Adelina Patti, Titta
Ruffo, Tito Schipa, Feodor Shaliapin, were acclaimed in Braila over the years by a public
of sensitive connaisseurs.
The biennial Hariclea Darclée
Voice Competition represents an exceptional and far-reaching revival of this
Over 10,000 people would spontaneously
crowd round the theatre where, since 1995, Mariana Nicolesco had been
presenting her Gala Concerts and where she also invited the young laureates
of the Darclée Contest, bringing to the general attention, with Idomeneo and
Don Giovanni, in 1999, the first Romanian Mozart generation which
emerged in Braila.
Or in 2001 celebrating the International Verdi Year with
La Traviata, an Aria Concert and a Chorus Concert on
the Esplanade of the Danube, wherein all the great composer's operas were
In 2003, the performance of the laureates in Puccini's La Boheme, celebrating the centennial of the first presentation of this opera in Romania, with Hariclea Darclée as Mimi, was a great success. As well as the Concert of Arias from all the operas composed for the famous soprano and interpreted by her in world premiere.
The 10 th anniversary of the
Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition in 2005, coincided with the
triumph of our representation with Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia.
And marked the participation at the contest of over 1500
competitors from 45 countries and 5 continents.
A prodigious belcanto performance was the interpretation by the Darclée Competition laureates,
prepared by Mariana Nicolesco, in 2007, of Donizetti's cycle dedicated to the Queens of the Tudor dinasty:
Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and Queen Elisabeth I in Roberto Devereux.
The laureates of the Darclée Competition were acclaimed in the famous Trittico: Il Tabarro, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, for the International Puccini Year 2008.
In 2009: triumph of the first ever performances in Romania of Gaetano Donizetti's Parisina d'Este
and Gemma di Vergy coordinated by Mariana Nicolesco, at the Bucharest National Opera,
later on at the Pelesh Royal Castle in Sinaia and during the Darclée Festival.
The performance of each interpreter proved remarcable starting with the laureates of the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition, in the main roles.
In commemoration of 250 years since Handel's death and 200 years since Haydn's passing away, the public attended the conference about the vocality during the baroque and the classical periods, followed by a Recital by the participants in the Master Class.
The 2010 jubilee edition, marking the celebration of 15 years since the creation of the Hariclea Darclée International Festival and Voice Competition, was a true apotheosis, with 187 competitors registered from 27 countries, the International Jury beeing presided by the great baritone Nicolae Herlea.
With the same brio as in the previous editions, the Darclée Festival Orchestra was conducted by maestro Marco Balderi.
The young artists were acclaimed in a delightful opera performance with Donizetti's Don Pasquale, in the Concert on the Danube's Esplanade - a spectacular Darclée Celebration, with arias, choruses and orchestra sequences from operas sang by Darclée, as well as at the Gala of the Laureates, when the winners received their Prizes, Darclée Medal and Diploma as well as The Darclée Coin especially created by the National Bank of Romania.
The public applauded with enthusiasm the Concert Homage to Chopin, Schumann, Darclée, dedicated to the celebration of 200 years since the two great composers were born and 150 since the future legendary soprano was born in Braila.
On the occasion of the 2010 events was presented for the first time the brochure Darclée-Vissi d'arte, announcing the book with the same title
by Dutch author René Seghers, to be published soon, while the phoniatrist and
musicologist Dr. Stephan Poen lectured about Hariclea Darclée on the world stage,
with arias videoprojections from 10 operas in which Hariclea Darclée appeared, interpreted by soprano Mariana Nicolesco.
In the well established tradition of the Conferences concerning a profounder understanding of emotions
expressed by the human voice through the art of singing, Dr. Stephan Poen talked in 2011 about soprano Mariana Nicolesco's
interpretations at Milan's Teatro alla Scala and at RAI Roma of Franz Liszt's creations, celebrating
the 200 years of his birth, and of Gustav Mahler's commemorating the centenary of his passing away. The event was followed
by a Recital of the young artists.
The Awards Ceremony and the Gala of the Laureates 2012 surpassed all expectations in matter of splendour.
The climax of this extraordinary evening was the touching moment when the laureates were singing the famous Brindisi
from Verdi's La Traviata and the renowned Italian opera director Flavio Trevisan came on stage offering
Mariana Nicolesco a priceless gift of historic and emotional significance: the tiara beard by Hariclea Darclée for the world premiere of Puccini's
Tosca at Teatro Costanzi in Rome in 1900, and later on by Maria Callas at Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova in 1954.
Callas gave it to her young friend, the future Maestro Flavio Trevisan: «There is nothing more legitimate
than the fact that this wonderful crown, which belonged once to Queen Hariclea Darclée and afterwards
to Queen Maria Callas, goes now to Queen Mariana Nicolesco» he said, in the public's ovations and tears.
The glorious days of the Hariclea Darclée International Festival and Voice Competition included
Dr. Stephan Poen's lecture Nicolae Herlea at 85, a magnificent performance with Verdi's masterpiece
Il Trovatore and a Great Verdi-Wagner Concert on the Esplanade of the Danube, with the participation
of the George Enescu Philharmonic Choir and the Darclée Festival Orchestra conducted by Maestro Marco Balderi,
concert attended by thousands and thousands of people.
And that, in anticipation of the celebration during the Master Classes 2013, in the Verdi - Wagner International Year, of the Bicentennial of the birth of the two geniuses of music.
In the same year the house wherein Petre Stefanescu-Goanga (1902-1973) was born, restored by the Braila City Hall with European funds was inaugurated in the presence of the local authorities as well as of the participants in the Darclée Master Classes. They all applauded the voice of the famous singer on records.
The 2014 Master Classes prepared the jubilee edition of the Hariclea Darclée Festival and International Voice Competition celebrating in 2015 their twentieth anniversary, events for which Mariana Nicolesco obtained the UNESCO High Patronage. The 2014 edition meant a special homage to the memory of the legendary soprano Hariclea Darclée, who passed away 75 years ago. It was also the occasion to honour the art of Christoph Willibald Gluck and Niccolò Jommelli celebrating 300 years since they were born and of Giacomo Meyerbeer commemorating 150 years since he passed away.
The fundamental principles, rigorously respected since the first edition in 1995 and up to the Jubilee Edition in 2015, make those manifestations equal to none in the world, as was recently stated even by the prestigious Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera in an article regarding the events dedicated to Hariclea Darclée - The First Tosca entitled: Constantin Brancusi, George Enescu, Mariana Nicolesco: the Cult of a Country for its Glories, and as results from countless testimonies expressed over the years, and as is shown by the exceptional status granted to these events for their contribution to the world cultural patrimony, that of the High UNESCO Patronage.
Evening after evening, triumph after triumph marked the Jubilee Edition 2015: The Festive Ceremony and Inaugural Concert, Dr. Stephan Poen's conference 20 years of Glory of the Art of Singing, the Concert Encountering again the talents revealed by the Darclée Competition, the performance of Donizetti's opera L'Elisir d'amore, the Extraordinary Concert on the Danube Esplanade: Two decades in the World of Masterpieces or the Prize-Giving Ceremony and the Gala of the Laureates.
In 2016, the Master Classes offered by Mariana Nicolesco as part of the events held under UNESCO High Patronage in honor of the legendary Hariclea Darclée were dedicated to the relationship between Masters and Disciples.
Personalities such as celebrated soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, the incomparable violonist Yehudi Menuhin and the famous composer Francesco Cilea were also honored on this occasion, which marked the 135 th anniversary of Hariclea Darclée's debut on stage and the 185th anniversary of the world premiere of Bellini's Norma.
Three TV programs broadcast on national television were dedicated to the events, to the glory of the art of singing, to the transmission of its great traditions and to the accomplishments of the young artists.
The 2017 edition of the Hariclea Darclée Festival and International Voice Competition was a definite triumph. The event is organized under the High Patronage of UNESCO, and this year it brought together a record number of participants: 200 from all around the world, with 80 from China alone. The note of success was sounded from the very start, with the Festive Opening, the Inaugural Recital and the Conference - supported by visual projections - entitled Once Again, on the Glory of Music, held by Dr. Stephan Poen.
These were followed by the piano Recital performed by Matei Varga, dedicated to the birth of a true genius, Dinu Lipatti. Afterwards, the splendid interpretation of Ruggero Leoncavallo's opera I Pagliacci by laureates of the Hariclea Darclée International Canto Competition.
The Extraordinary Concert on the Danube Esplanade, inaugurated in a symbolic manner with Beethoven's Ode to Joy, now the Anthem of Europe, was also marked by special moments, such as the duet sung by the laureates of the Great Darclée Prize from the first edition of the Competition, held in 1995, namely soprano Ana Camelia Stefanescu and mezzosoprano Oana Andra, or the presence, on stage, upon the invitation launched by Mariana Nicolesco, of the Ambassador of China to Romania, His Excellency Xu Feihong, who, to the delight of all those present, joined the group of Chinese artists in singing famous songs from his native country.
Romanian National Television broadcast five one-hour shows dedicated to the Hariclea Darclée Festival and International Voice Competition, and the series ended in the general enthusiasm engendered by the Gala of the Laureates.
The events were in the attention of national and international radio and television, including EuroNews and Mezzo, of the national newspapers and of the international music magazines like Orpheus in Berlin or Amadeus in Milan.
Between an edition and the next of the Competition, the
enthusiastic public is admitted to attend Mariana Nicolesco's
Master Classes offered to the laureates of the contest, thus
witnessing the transmission of the sacred ritual of singing from one
generation to another.
Under the glorious,
inspiring sign of the great Darclée, for whom Puccini composed Tosca,
Mascagni Iris and Catalani La Wally, young opera singers from
all over the world are invited to join the wonderful celebration of music
and voice, in a competition from which, in a way, everyone will come out as