Teodor Ilincăi: The most defining element for a young singer would be humility & self-conscience, we must know our limits!

Romanian tenor TEODOR ILINCĂI has performed at many of the important opera houses in the world, including the Royal Opera House in London, the Opéra National de Paris, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Staatsoper Berlin, the Vienna State Opera, the Teatro Real in Madrid, the Opéra de Lausanne, the Macerata Opera Festival, le Festival Avenches Opéra, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, the Opera di Genova, the Opéra Municipal de Marseille, the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, the Semperoper Dresden, the Opera Australia, the New National Theatre of Tokyo and many others. Teodor Ilincăi began his musical studies as an oboist, after which he attended the Bucharest Conservatory to study Byzantine Music and Musical Pedagogy. With the discovery of his vocal gifts, he turned his attention to singing under the guidance of famed Romanian tenor Corneliu Fânățeanu. In 2008 Ilincăi won a scolarship in Vienna offered by CEE Musiktheatre and was awarded First Place at the Great Tenors Tournament in Szczecin, Poland. In 2010 he won the Second Prize at the Francisco Viñas International Singing Competition in Barcelona, which brought him to his first appearence on the stage of the Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona as Rodolfo. Ilincăi has also been granted numerous awards, including Soloist of the Year at the Bucharest VIP Gala Awards and the Ludovic Spiess Prize by the Romanian Music Forum (2009), In Memoriam Iosif Sava distinction by Radio Romania Cultural (2010) and the Award of Excellence by Elite Art Club Unesco Romania for being a cultural ambassador for Romania all over the world (2013). In March of 2016, Ilincăi was conferred The Order of the Romanian Crown at the Knight Rank by Princess Margareta, who bestowed the honor to the artist at the request of his Majesty King Mihai 1 of Romania. In 2018 he was conferred the Officer Rank of the same Order by Her Majesty Margareta of Romania.

Dear Teodor, long time, no see! I’m always extremely glad to interview Romanian singers and to talk to them about their great achievements in important theaters abroad! It’s funny because the last time I interviewed you it was for your debut as Calaf in Puccini’s Turandot in 2019, at the Romanian National Opera House in Romania, and now, we’re going to talk, among many other things, about Turandot at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. Do you remember that moment, your first encounter with Calaf? Tell me about the development of your interpretation of this character from that moment until this very particular production you’re currently doing.

Hello again! It’s nice to be interviewed by you again, I like interesting, intriguing and challenging topics. I’ll never forget my first Calaf at Romanian National Opera Cluj-Napoca, it was the only time when I was “asked by the public” to sing twice the famous Nessun dorma. But this wasn’t the most important thing… it was a precious and special moment in my career, I have been dreaming about this role for many years and I was aware of its difficulties, so I waited and prepared. My voice was a bit lighter back then, even if the squillo and the color required were present nevertheless. I was lucky to have Maestro David Crescenzi as conductor. He puts accent on italienità, pronunciation, good taste. In fact this wasn’t the first time he took care of an important debut for me, I remember like it was yesterday: my first Rodolfo in La bohème at Romanian National Opera Timișoara in 2009 and my first Radames from Aida at the same opera house this year. Meanwhile the voice got darker and rounder and I added precious advice for the role of Calaf from Maestro Kazushi Ono while in Tokyo and Ōtsu in Japan in 2019. Maestro Antonino Fogliani, our conductor in Genève, has successfully given a contribute to my development regarding this demanding and beautiful role I’m very grateful and almost fulfilled, even if I’m aware I could still improve some details…

What about Daniel Kramer’s production, under the baton of M° Antonino Fogliani? How do you cope with the modern director’s requirements? Do you think that the usage Luciano Berio’s version of the final part, performed for the first time in Los Angeles in 2002, changes the meaning of the story in some way?

The staging in Genève is challenging and complex, but also spectacular and full of surprises. We worked hard for almost six weeks to get it done. Fortunately, Daniel Kramer is an excellent psychologist and he dug deep inside the human history and condition, full of violence and frustration, that makes this production very interesting and intriguing for the public. I was skeptical about Berio’s ending at first, but now I believe that this was very inspired, though the orchestral interlude in the middle of this final duet he cements perfectly the overall idea of the whole production. After all, the change and progress come through dissatisfaction and revolution…

Read the entire interview here, in the 5th/2022 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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