Romania PM names new minister to handle bitter opera dispute

AP News
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Posted: May 03, 2016 10:49 AM

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — In a chain of incidents worthy of an opera, Romania's culture minister resigned because of dispute involving the fiancé of a star ballerina, then decided to stay — only to be fired on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos named Corina Suteu, a well-known figure in the world of theater and cinema management, plus international experience in cultural affairs, as his new minister. He said he had chosen her "in the desire to continue reforms."

She replaces Vlad Alexandrescu who resigned last week, then vowed to stay on as minister Tuesday to continue the reforms he had begun in the film industry. All too late: Ciolos finally fired him.

Last week Alexandrescu was forced to step down after three shows were canceled at the Bucharest National Opera because a conflict between interim management and Johan Kobborg, a Danish ballet dancer and fiancé of Alina Cojocaru, one of Romania's best-known cultural figures internationally.

Last week, Kobborg, Cojocaru and seven other artists were banned from entering the opera unsupervised.

Some opera employees claim Kobborg , who was artistic director of the ballet company, was overpaid and hired foreign dancers. Cojocaru, who has won international acclaim as a dancer, was criticized by some for speaking Romanian "with an accent."

Cojocaru in turn has spoken darkly about an atmosphere of "fear and intimidation" at the opera.

"I am praying that one day my country will wake up," she said after a stormy meeting last week between opera employees and a government official, where she was constantly interrupted as she spoke.

Suteu, who inherits the crisis, was a senior official in the culture ministry, and previously headed the New York office of the Romanian Cultural Institute.