Originally from Oradea, Romania, baritone FLORIN ESTEFAN attended the Faculty of Music at the State University in his hometown, graduated from the Gh. Dima Academy of Music in Cluj-Napoca in 2004, becoming a soloist of the Romanian National Opera in Cluj-Napoca in his second year of studies at the age of 20. In December 2007, he graduated from the first class of the Cardiff International Academy of Voice, with the famous tenor Dennis O`Neill as his voice teacher. In 2012 he returned as a soloist of the Romanian National Opera in Cluj-Napoca, becoming General Manager of the renowned opera house in February 2015, the youngest manager in the 97-year history of the first opera house founded in Romania. The year 2016 brought Mr. Estefan the beautiful recognition with the title of Doctor of Music at the Gh. Dima Academy of Music in Cluj-Napoca, as well as the title of “Best Soloist of the Year” at the Bucharest National Opera, within the National Opera Gala, for his interpretation of the role of Yevgeny Oneghin in the production of the Romanian National Opera of Cluj. After completing his doctoral studies, Florin Estefan, since 2017, also holds the position of University Lecturer at the Department of Singing of the National Academy of Music Gh. Dima in Cluj-Napoca. As General Manager of the Romanian National Opera in Cluj-Napoca, Florin Estefan has succeeded in increasing the participation of young people in the institution’s performances, reaching a percentage of 72% of the total audience, through numerous premieres and “event” performances, a new approach to the public and through programmes and projects aimed at everyone, in unconventional spaces with free access, such as Opera Aperta.
Who are you behind/before this working engagement?
I am a normal person who likes to be surrounded by family and friends. However, my whole existence and the prism through which I look at everything is music and singing. Although my life and activities are multifaceted, (soloist, manager and teacher) singing is at the top of my priority list. First of all, when I wake up in the morning, as a singer, the first thing I do is to make a sound, to see if my voice sounds right. Lately I’ve discovered a new hobby that helps me escape and gives me fantastic freedom. I love to ride my motorcycle. It’s fantastic!
What was your first thought when you received this important mission and what are your main purposes as General Manager?
Right now, on February 18th, it is 7 years since I started my activity as Manager of the Romanian National Opera in Cluj-Napoca. I was 33 years old… First thought? I didn’t have a first thought but a lot of thoughts… First of all, I didn’t sleep for two weeks, out of fear… I was overcome with emotion when I entered the office for the first time, thinking of the personalities who had worked in that space before me. It was only natural that I should be scared. The institution I lead has never been simple… there have been a lot of tensions over the years and it has “a tradition”, “a reputation” in that respect. I remember that immediately after my appointment, I had a meeting with a friend who has extensive political, diplomatic and administrative experience in Bucharest. He wanted to talk to me and addressed me as if I were his son. He told me as follows:,..You have a slim chance of succeeding. You lead one of the most difficult ensembles in Romania. You can’t rely on anything inside or outside the institution… Only God can help you there… So far, I have seen that God has been there for me and I pray every day for the wisdom I need. I believe my mission has always been to inspire enthusiasm, develop and support artists, keeping them at the centre of the creative and administrative work of the institution. I have always tried to be a dynamic leader, building on the institution’s strong foundation and reputation while attracting increasing public support. I have tried to be fully committed to artists, to excellent artistic standards, with a strong commitment to diversity, equity and cultural partnerships. I have also wanted to use the opera and ballet performances we offer, in our auditorium or in unconventional spaces, to arouse curiosity and to approach a strategy that keeps audiences coming back for more. I am proud that I have succeeded, together with my colleagues – the entire staff of the Cluj National Opera – in gaining the trust of the public, as evidenced by the fact that more and more performances are sold out! All of us have succeeded in the last few years to offer various opera and ballet premieres, special performances for children or outdoor events that are already becoming traditional and eagerly awaited every summer.
Read the entire interview here, in the 2th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.0