President of the Darclée Foundation
President of the Jury
Soprano Mariana Nicolesco has
been acclaimed in the most renowned opera houses, such as Teatro alla Scala
in Milan, where she featured in the world premiere of
Luciano Berio's La Vera Storia, and later in many new productions,
recitals and concerts, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in Munich, Vienna, Paris, Chicago,
Hamburg, San Francisco, Barcelona, Madrid, Zurich, Roma,
Florence, Venice, Parma, Torino, Palermo, Bologna, Trieste, Strasbourg, Bruxelles, Dresden, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Berlin, Monte Carlo, Philadelphia, Miami, Washington, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans,
Toronto, Pretoria, Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, at the Salzburg Festival, the Rossini Opera
Festival in Pesaro, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Martina Franca Festival, the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, where she appeared in major productions by Luchino Visconti,
Giorgio Strehler, Patrice Chéreau, Luca Ronconi, Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, Franco Zeffirelli, Pier Luigi
Pizzi, Jérôme Savary, Margarita Wallmann, Jonathan Miller, under the direction of Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang
Sawallisch, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa, Lorin Maazel, Peter Maag, Giuseppe
Patané, Daniel Barenboim, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Alberto Zedda, Colin Davis, Georges Prêtre. She has performed in the most prestigious concert
halls, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Royal Festival Hall in London,
Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Musikverein in
Vienna, Salle Pleyel in Paris or the Great Conservatory Hall in Moscow.
Her arresting personality has
captivated audiences around the world ever since her first Violetta in La
Traviata, with Thomas Schippers conducting Giancarlo Menotti's
production in Florence. She sang the role more than two hundred times. Other
achievements in her Verdi repertoire are the roles of Gilda in Rigoletto, Leonora in Il
Trovatore, Desdemona in Otello and Amelia in Simon Boccanegra,
also released on CD.
Mariana Nicolesco sang in concert
and recorded on CD the world premiere of Meyerbeer's cantata Gli amori di
Teolinda as well as Ravel's cantatas Alyssa and Alcyone.
She also recorded Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Puccini's
La Rondine and scored a great success as Liu in Turandot and Mimi in La Boheme also by Puccini, as well as Nedda in Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci or as Marguerite in Gounod's Faust, Tatiana in Tchaikovsky's Evgheni Oneghin, Donna Anna in Dargomyzhsky's Stone Guest, Tsarina Marina in Dvorak's Dimitrij, as well as her creation in Berio's Un Re in ascolto.
Her Mozart roles include Donna
Elvira in Don Giovanni with Sawallisch in Munich and Muti at La
Scala, Cinna in Lucio Silla again at La Scala, in Chéreau's
production, Vitellia in La
Clemenza di Tito in Bologna, Peter Maag conducting, Elettra in Idomeneo with Ozawa in Tokyo and
Mariana Nicolesco also took part in the renaissance of the baroque repertoire at the Teatro
alla Scala in Milan, with L'Orfeo by Luigi Rossi and Fetonte by Niccolo Jommelli, both
staged by Luca Ronconi.
She has established
herself as a true soprano drammatico d'agilità in the great belcanto
repertoire, with her interpretation of Bellini's Beatrice di Tenda at
La Fenice in Venice. Her recording of this opera is considered a landmark in
Bellini discography. Other belcanto highlights include her interpretation and
recording of Donizetti's Maria di Rohan, her Elizabeth I, Queen of
England, in Roberto Devereux, her Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda and her
Belcanto Recitals and Galas at La Scala, Carnegie Hall and Moscow's Great
Invited by Pope John Paul II, she
sang in the first Christmas Concert televised worldwide from the Vatican and watched
through Mondovisione TV by one billion
Mariana Nicolesco starred in the
world premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki's masterpiece Seven Gates of
Jerusalem dedicated to the 3000 years of the Holy City, conductor Lorin
Maazel. The soprano part was composed for her voice.
Born in Romania, Mariana
Nicolesco graduated with the Bruch Violin Concerto and, immediately afterwards, she commenced her vocal studies at the Cluj-Napoca Conservatory.
Winning in a national competition a scholarship at the Conservatorio Santa
Cecilia she went to Rome to study with Jolanda Magnoni, and later on with
Rodolfo Celletti in Milan and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in Zumikon. Finishing
the Conservatorio Santa Cecilia, she won the Rossini International Voice
Competition organized by the Italian Radiotelevision, RAI, which widely
opened for her the doors of the most prestigious opera houses.
After a twenty-one year absence, she sang, at long last, in 1991 for the first time
ever on a stage in her
native country, in a Recital at the Romanian Atheneum. She offered again, in 1993, a memorable concert at the Romanian
Atheneum, celebrating the 125th anniversary of the National
Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 1998 for its 130th anniversary.
Over ten thousand people would come to
the Civic Center of Braila to welcome her at every recital she gives to
support the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition, an event that she founded to honour the memory of the first interpreter of Puccini's Tosca,
born in that city on the Lower Danube. More then 2900 candidates from Romania and other 50 countries and 5 continents have
attended this contest, considered as one of the most important in the world. She succeeded in attracting
an enthusiastic and numerous public also to the concerts of the young talents that she is happy to join on stage
and who have brilliantly appeared in Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi and Puccini opera performances.
In the years between an edition of the contest and the
next, she offers Master Classes to the laureates.
Back in Romania she decided to lend her support to Romanian orphanages and to the
promotion of young artists of exceptional talent. She created in New York
The Romanian Atheneum International Foundation Inc. This non-profit
organization, established to perpetuate a rich cultural tradition, helped
with the restoration of the magnificent 1888 Romanian Atheneum Concert Hall
in Bucharest. The Foundation restored the Atheneum's organ and
has donated a Steinway grand concert piano.
A set of 3 CDs Mariana
Nicolesco in Romania containing a selection of arias recorded live in concerts or recitals
in her native country were released with great success. Later on was published her 3 DVD set
Mariana Nicolesco from the world stage to Romania.
Mariana Nicolesco is an
Honorary Member of the Romanian Academy. She is an Honorary
Member of the Romanian National Council for the Protection of the Child and
of the Romanian National Committee for UNICEF. She is also Honorary Member of the Mihai Eminescu International Academy, Honorary Citizen of
Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Brasov and Braila, President of the Darclée
Foundation and of the Hariclea Darclée
International Voice Competition. She obtained the first scientific title in
Romania of Ph. D. in Arts, at the Cluj-Napoca Academy of Music and is Doctor
Honoris Causa of the same Academy, Professor Honoris Causa of the
Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Doctor Honoris
Causa of Transilvania University in Brasov. Member of the Honorary Committee of the International Yehudi
Mariana Nicolesco was granted the
National Order of the Star of Romania in the rank of Grand Cross "for her exceptional achievements, as a sign of high appreciaton for her entire career" and was made Officer of the
Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. She has also received the UNESCO Medal for Artistic Achievements.
She is Commander of the Order of The Star of Italian Solidarity.
She created in 2003 in Brasov
the National Festival and Romanian Song Competition and presented The Grand Gala UNESCO-UNICEF Romania in Venice,
acclaimed by the Italian press with headlines such as The Splendors of Romania.
Mariana Nicolesco was designated by Capital magazine The Most Successful Woman in Romania.
At the 150th
celebration of the world premiere of Verdi's La Traviata, she was
honoured in the United States, with Virginia Zeani, as a great interpreter
of the role of Violetta Valéry. On that occasion, she presented Verdi's masterpiece
interpreted by the Romanian laureates of the Darclée Competition.
A study shows that, in the long history of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Mariana Nicolesco is the soprano who appeared in the most premiere assolute.
For her "extraordinary performances and for everything she does
for the young generation" she was proclaimed in Berlin Musician of the Year: «A great Voice for the Renaissance of Culture».
In 2005, commemorating 50 years since the great Romanian composer George Enescu passed away, Mariana Nicolesco presented in world premiere, for the George Enesco International Year proclaimed by UNESCO, his Complete Songs, interpreted by the laureates of the Romanian National Song Competition she created in Brasov. As a result of the great success of the evening, broadcast by the national TV, Mariana Nicolesco and her young friends were invited for Gala Concerts dedicated to Enescu's Songs in Japan, at the Aichi World Exhibition as well as in Nagoya and Tokyo, in Prague, Paris, Rome and New York. Enescu's Complete Songs were released on that occasion on CD and DVD. Shortly afterwards, exceptional echoes appeared in the international music magazines, from Orpheus in Berlin to Amadeus in Milan.
the same year she was made UNESCO Artist for Peace "in recognition of her commitment to musical heritage,
artistic creation, dialogue between cultures, and of her contribution to promoting the ideals
of the Organization". She is an UNESCO Honorary Ambassador.
She was also a Member of the Jury of the International
Music Competition Schubert and Modernity at Graz University of Music and Art.
In 2006, celebrating The International Mozart
Year Mariana Nicolesco was invited by Lausanne Opera and Conservatory to give Master Classes
to students and young artists from Switzerland, Italy, France, Argentina, England and Romania.
In January 2007 she received in Palermo the
Medal of Sicily on the occasion of the integration of Romania in the European Union, offering in the
Chiesa del Gesu a Concert with several young talents from her native country.
Mariana Nicolesco inaugurates a series of
Master Classes at the newly created International Voice Academy of the University of Cardiff.
She appeared on the cover of Orpheus
opera magazine, published in Berlin, with the title: «Mariana Nicolesco – Europe sings with us»,
along with an important article dedicated to the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition.
November 2007: Mariana Nicolesco Gala
– Master Class with the laureates of the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition in
Thalia Theatre, for the program Sibiu – European Capital of Culture.
On that occasion, the President of the European Cultural Forum conferred Mariana Nicolesco the Special Award
Kultur Preis Europa: “A great voice of our time Mariana Nicolesco receives the Europa Medal
for her artistic accomplishments, for her role as a mentor of the new generation and for her successful
efforts in bringing Romania to Europe and Europe to Romania”.
In February, 2008 The Patriarch of the
Romanian Orthodox Church, Daniel, awarded Mariana Nicolesco the Honorary Diploma of the Omenia
International Foundation "for creating in Romania a Voice School of the highest European level, for her
humanitarian activity, for promoting humane values, tolerance and reconciliation". The event took place
on the occasion of an Extraordinary Concert at the Romanian Atheneum in Bucharest offered by Mariana Nicolesco
and the laureates of the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition.
In 2009: triumph of absolute premieres in Romania
of Gaetano Donizetti’s Parisina d’Este and Gemma di Vergy coordinated by Mariana Nicolesco,
at the Bucharest National Opera, and later on at the Pelesh Royal Castle in Sinaia and during the Darclée Festival.
She offered Song Master Classes (Lied) in 2010, giving the young interpreters
the opportunity to work with the best-known Romanian composers of songs, while the evenings were
dedicated to Song Recitals.
The 2010 jubilee edition, marking the celebration of 150 years since Hariclea Darclée's birth and 15 years since
the creation of the Hariclea Darclée International Festival and Voice Competition, was a true apotheosis, the artists evolving, as always, under the prestigious baton of Maestro Marco Balderi.
In the well-established tradition of the Master Classes and aiming at a deeper understanding of feelings expressed by the human voice through the art of singing, phoniatrist and musicologist Dr. Stephan Poen lectured 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 since the birth of the composer), and of Gustav Mahler's,
commemorating the centenary of his passing away. The event was followed by a Recital of the young artists.
At the end of the Gala of Laureates of the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition 2012,
the renowned Italian opera director Flavio Trevisan came on stage offering Mariana Nicolesco
a priceless gift of historic and emotional significance: the tiara worn by Hariclea Darclée for the world premiere of Puccini's Tosca
at Teatro Costanzi in Rome in January 1900, and later on by Maria Callas at Teatro Carlo Felice
in Genova in March 1954. Callas had given the tiara to her young friend, the future Maestro Flavio Trevisan:
«There is nothing more legitimate than that this wonderful crown, which belonged once
to Queen Hariclea Darclée, and afterwards to Queen Maria Callas, should now go to
Queen Mariana Nicolesco», he said, prompting the audience's ovations and tears.
At the Paris Reunion of the UNESCO Honorary Ambassadors in 2014, Mariana Nicolesco obtained for the Darclée events the UNESCO High Patronage, in recognition of their importance as part of the world cultural heritage.
The same year she was a Member of the Jury of China International Vocal Competition with 430 competitors from 41 countries.
The fundamental principles, rigorously respected since the first edition in 1995 and up to now, make the Hariclea Darclee Festival and International Voice Competition as well as the Master Classes 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.
2015 Jubilee Edition of the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition: The Ministry of Culture awards soprano Mariana Nicolesco the Diploma of
Excellence for the 20 years of Triumph and Glory in the Art of Singing,
transmitting the magic traditions of opera music to young talents from
50 countries and 5 continents, which represents a matchless and unique
contribution to honoring the memory of her legendary predecessor, Hariclea
In 2017 she was invited by the University of Shenzhen in China, to offer Master Classes with the theme Masters – Disciples.
After the Benefit Gala with Laureates of the Hariclea Darclée International Voice
Competition in support of children in need, she receives the Diploma of
Ambassador of Queen Mary of Romania Foundation.
In 2018 the Chisinau Academy of Arts awarded her the title of Doctor Honoris Causa. On this occasion, Mariana Nicolesco spoke about "Celebrating the Centennial of the Great Union by the Sacred Art of Singing".
She also got in 2018 the Honorary Diploma and the Medal celebrating the
Centennial of the Great Union and the 650 years since the first documented
mention of Braila
At the 2019 Reunion in Paris of the European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters,
commemorating 500 years since Leonardo da Vinci passed away, its President,
Jean-Patrick Connerad Chaumes awarded the Diploma of Academician to
Mariana Nicolesco, “brilliant personality of world opera and mentor of the new
generations aspiring to reach perfection in music”
At a glamorous reception in Monte Carlo, in the presence of many celebrities the
luxurious magazine ARC was launched, featuring Mariana Nicolesco on the
cover, where she is Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The title is Mariana
Nicolesco Voice of a Star, Presence of a Star, while the interview with her, over
34 pages, is illustrated with photos representing her in performances in the
world’s great opera houses or with personalities like Yehudi Menuhin, Salvador
Dali or His Sanctity Pope John Paul II
She receives in 2020 The Constantin Brâncoveanu Award "for her entire exceptional career"
In the Colocvii Dunărene Revue of the Center for Danube Studies of the Romanian Academy, 2021, appears the article Mariana Nicolesco - A „cover” name:
We are now expecting the Jubilee Edition of the Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition… We miss those festive days, the song and the smile that dominated the whole city when words were heard in so many foreign languages, when the Danube Esplanade became too small because Mariana Nicolesco's disciples sang on stage... We miss the endless applause, the thousands of flowers, the fireworks, the splendor of that period! And we miss, first of all, Mariana Nicolesco!!!
In his Critic (and Sentimental) Dictionary of Lyric Artists which appeared in 2021 at Akakia Publishing House, Costin Popa writes:
The impact with the art of the famous soprano is overwhelming, Mariana Nicolesco fascinates and seduces instantly, her thrilling personality shines with the first sound. Her power of communication and captivation of the public is truly huge, yet it does not remain a goal in itself, as the only attractive and spectacular dimension, but it draws its essences from the absolute mastery of the Belcanto style (a rara avis nowadays)