George Vîrban


by Bianca L. Nica
July 14, 2020


George Vîrban was born in 1994 in Garvăn, a small village in Tulcea County, Romania. He attended his town’s Primary and Gymnasium School and the High School of Arts in Galati City. He doesn’t remember when he discovered his passion for music, but he knows he has always sung. He remembers his mother, a tailor, while working and singing Romanian folk music, and he tended to imitate her. His first musical education came from his mother, who taught him songs for the school. During elementary school, he remembers that it was all about music. He liked to sing and did it every occasion for family, friends, classmates and teachers. When he was 12 years old, his parents, at his teachers’ initiative, decided to enrol him in an ensemble for children.

There, George took his first steps on stage, singing pop music and being in an environment conducive to his artistic development. A different kind of music would have suited his life in the village, so George attended the Popular School of Arts courses in Galati, at the electronic organ department, for three years, for which he managed to graduate with difficulty, not being passionate about it. He already sang pop music and was very attracted to musical performances. The big change to Classical Music came suddenly and by chance. In 2009 he was admitted to the High School of Arts in Galați to the singing department, but at that time, he did not know it was about Classical Singing. He was there for pop music. He suddenly woke up with scores he had to memorize, and with piano accompaniment lessons, everything was completely new. He didn’t know what had hit him. After the first year, he still had no idea what had happened to him. Although he was already participating in several competitions in the country, he did not give much importance to opera music. He had native vocal peculiarities to be an opera singer and had begun working with his teacher on the tenor register. A year later, after his father had a difficult brain operation, he realized he had to do something to make his parents proud. At that moment, he seemed to have been injected with a virus from which, fortunately, he had not escaped even until this moment. It’s about opera. He started listening to many different recordings with great artists, comparing, analyzing and accumulating certain information to have a vast general knowledge of opera. He started reading specialized books and watching opera performances on DVDs or on YouTube.

Last but not least, he was not absent from any opera performance of the Musical Theater in Galați. The first opera performance he saw live was La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi. He remembers that it was marked by how so many people can coordinate to create a show based on only a score and a libretto. That’s how it all started, then competitions, masterclasses, recitals and concerts followed, and the love for classical music grew more and more. At the end of High School, he won the first prize at the National Music Olympics, which ensured he, at that time, entered the first place at the National University of Music in Bucharest. From that moment on, he stepped into another universe, another part of his life, much more spectacular from an artistic point of view and much more challenging.

In 2013 he was awarded the Young Talents Scholarship from the Margaret of Romania Royal Foundation, which visibly contributed to his evolution as an artist. Until 2015 he had the honour to participate in vocal training sessions with great personalities of classical music from Romania, to work with exceptional conductors, and to sing on the biggest stages in Bucharest as a guest in concerts of the Romanian Athenaeum, Radio Hall or Bucharest National Opera. At that moment, a new horizon of knowledge was described, and George, the child, was beginning to mature on all levels, vocally, mentally…

In 2014, he participated in two International Singing Competitions, the first in Sibiu, “Vox Artis”, and the other in Paris, “George Enescu”. He managed to win both of them. Following the competition in Sibiu, his first contract appeared, in Russia, for the role of Lensky in the opera Evgheni Onegin. He was a 22-year-old man who decided to start anew and left for Russia, with a childish unconsciousness, to make his international debut. The first role came with a million questions about how he should approach this score, learn it and be able to discover essential details to create a character as truthful as possible. Not having the necessary experience wasn’t easy, but he enjoyed good teacher guidance. He started by studying the music and the text, like a book you were reading for the first time, about which you knew nothing. Then he realized that it would be best to read Pushkin’s poem to see the connections between the libretto and the music. He discovered a score full of details and indications on how Lensky should be, a lot of information in the accompaniment of the solo line or through the interval analysis and the chords that always suggested the character’s condition. The musical dialogue evolved from one scene to another in accordance with Lensky’s inner emotional state. From here, he concluded that Lensky had an ascending emotional journey culminating in blind jealousy and ending in an involuntary early death.
Regarding Oneghin, who can be seen as a serious, robust personality from the beginning, he gradually matures while maintaining that shade of personal rigidity. He loved this opera, especially because Russian music has a special story and transports you to a truly romantic universe. He says that when studying the role, he always associated images from nature and paintings that suggested his music with the opera’s action. It was fascinating that he could debut in this context with a Russian-language opera in Russia. He remembers that he was scared by the pronunciation of the Russian text but turning to a friend from the Republic of Moldova, he discovered that everything sounded natural.

Following the competition in Paris, a series of concerts and recitals followed, as a tour in France and Romania with pianist Alina Pavalache.

When he became a student at the Conservatory, he studied under the guidance of soprano Mariana Colpos. He enjoyed collaborating beautifully with directors such as master Stefan Neagrau and Anda Tabacaru. His vocal evolution was gradual and controlled, and he never approached repertoires that would overwhelm him or create panic on stage. From this point of view, he thinks he was very cautious. Together with his teachers, he tried to build a solid technique. Voice and talent have always existed, but he sometimes thought he was using too much talent to the detriment of technique, which was not good.
Nemorino’s role in Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore” came at an opportune moment, this opera being the show licensed by the National University of Music in Bucharest. With the production of the National University of Music in Bucharest, he went to the Independent Opera Festival in Iași, where he won the first prize and the special prize for interpreting the best male role (Nemorino). He knew from the beginning that this role would bring him great satisfaction and that it would be a role that would follow him all his life. From the beginning of the study, he realized that he would be a natural, casual and very spiritual Nemorino. As he studied the score, it suited his vocal timbre perfectly, and it was very easy for him to take on this role, probably because it brought him to his age. Also, with this role, he debuted in 2017 at the National Opera in Bucharest, directed by Marco Gandini and under the baton of Joseph Horvath. He signed a contract as a permanent soloist collaborator with the National Opera in Bucharest, but at the same time, he received a place as the first soloist of the National Opera and Musical Theater Ion Dacian Bucharest.

Between 2017 and 2019, he performed his artistic activity mainly in Bucharest, singing in the two theatres and being permanently invited to concerts at the Radio Hall or the Romanian Athenaeum. He did all this while still a Master’s student at the National University of Music in Bucharest. Although his working schedule was very busy, he was accustomed to giving maximum importance to all the projects in which he was involved, roles, rehearsals, concerts or personal study, because he knew that only in this way could he consolidate a very well-prepared musical career. It is very important to be well prepared when going in front of a group (orchestra, colleagues, conductors, directors) because only in this way, on a solid basis, can be easily and efficiently create a production in this present moment when everything is at high speed.

But let’s get back to the subject; He always wanted to go beyond his limits, and maybe this was the reason why he started sending as many recordings as possible to the Opera Studios in Europe; he wanted to leave Romania to satisfy his desire for knowledge and see how it is to develop in another environment so praised by everyone. The European Opera system was not completely unknown to him. At that time, he had already had some contacts with people of culture, casting directors or vocal coaches.

In May 2019, he received a surprise email from Bayerische Staatsoper inviting him to an audition for the second time. In 2018 he had already had contact with this Opera House but was not chosen to go further in the stages for OperaStudio. The 2019 audition was lucky, and suddenly his life changed. In this way, George stepped into the top world of opera. He followed the Virginia Zeani International Singing Competition with an exceptional jury (Peter Katona, Nely Miriciou, Larisa Gheorghieva, Paul Moe), where he won the third prize, and in September 2019, he moved to Munich. He discovered a very intense, serious and professional work environment with very well-coordinated departments. The first things he learned were respect and punctuality. All other responsibilities were self-evident because you could not be in such a place without a whole bundle of requirements. He was overwhelmed to find out that more than 1,000 candidates register for this audition every year, and the places are extremely limited. Since arriving in Munich, he has not had much time to visit the city or do tourist activities. His program involves daily study, new scores very frequently, fresh physical and mental condition, and determination. It is an intensive vocal and stage training program, first of all for each recital but also for any appearance on the main stage. Within the Opera Studio program, he has the chance to work with some of the opera world’s most famous vocal coaches and exceptional personalities. Since September, when he was in Munich, he has managed to do maybe more hours of singing than in Bucharest; in six years of study, he found time only for study and permanent improvement. A solo career is made with many personal sacrifices, opera becomes a performance sport, and for him, the biggest sacrifice is the family. However, he consoles himself with the thought that they are very proud of what he has managed to do, and that is why he is happy and has the strength to move on.

He would plan to create a repertoire appropriate to his age with which he could sing for as long as possible. He is currently in Munich under contract until 2021, the opportunities are huge, and the offers can appear overnight.

His opera repertoire includes roles such as Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff, Roderigo in Verdi’s Otello, Beppe in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Mozart’s Don Ottavio, Eugen Oneghin’s Lensky in Tchaikovsky, Laerte from Mignon by Thomas, Goro from Madama Butterfly by Puccini.


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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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