The Iași National Theatre building was inaugurated in 1896, after two years of works, on the place of the old city hall.
During a special ceremony, the keys were symbolically given to mayor Nicolae Gane, and afterwards, the “National Opening” by Al. Flechtenmacher, the vaudevilles “The Muse of Burdujeni” by Costache Negruzzi, “Cinel-cinel” by Vasile Alecsandri and the lyrics comedy “Romantic poet” by Matei Millo. The money made in the first inauguration were offered to the poor people of Iași.
The edifice represents a Neoclassic architectural jewel. It was built after the plans of the Viennese architects Fellner and Helmer, who erected theatres in Vienna, Prague, Chernivtsi, Odessa, Cluj etc. The architects also introduced innovative elements, present in the Modernist geometric adornments of the exterior balconies and the composite columns capitals at the entrance, which contain a metal lyre subtly inserted. The triangular pediment above the portico shows in alto-relief mythological characters in full motion. In the middle, Calliope, daughter of Zeus, considered muse of lyric poetry and of eloquence, “mistress all muses”, suggests song, music, philosophy. She is flanked by Hercules with the lion and Dionysus with the tiger, symbols of power and festive feature of theatre representations. In the corners of the pediment, Sophocles is holding in his hand the mask of tragedy, and “the prince of ancient comedy”, Aristophanes is near the happy mask. Above the building, a graceful swan with a bent neck is sitting, possibly referring to the “Swan” Theatre of Shakespeare or to the Swan Lake. The rich heraldry on the façades presents Romania’s coat of arms of that time (Moldavia, Muntenia, Oltenia and Dobrogea) and the emblem of Iași of those times, a circular tower with two fish at the base. At the last rehabilitation, the royal crowns were placed again above the portico, eliminated by the communist regime after 1947.
The inside tour is made through the foyer, from where two impressive stairways take us to the first floor, in the foyers of the boxes and the secondary ones which host a small historical costume exhibition worn by Gr. Manolescu in Hamlet, Matei Millo in Barbu Lăutaru and Miluță Gheorghiu in the famous Chirița. The Grand Hall has 750 seats placed on three levels, the first floor being exclusively dedicated for the boxes. On the left side of the stage there is the royal box with Romania’s symbols and on the opposite side there is the box of local personalities from administration, with the Iași emblem.
The hall is adorned with sculpting and painting elements, of Baroque and Rococo inspiration, all pointed out by the Venetian chandelier with 109 light bulbs and by the 1418 electric lamps. The ceiling, painted in pastel colours by Alexander Goltz, has as theme the Story, represented through paradise allegories, nymphs and angels framed by a Rococo stucco. The ancient curtain was painted by the Viennese master Lenz and finished by a disciple of his, having in the centre the allegory of life, with the three ages, and on the right the allegory of the Union of Romanian Principalities (Moldavia and Wallachia, in 1859). The curtain comes down sometimes at the beginning of some great performances, to be admired by the public. The iron curtain, painted by Al. Goltz, with ornamental motifs placed symmetrically, tightly separates the scene from the rest of the hall. Almost 7 kg of gold were used to cover the stucco and most of the ornaments in the hall.
Performances also take place at the “Teofil Vâlcu” Studio Hall in the attic, and near the building there are “The Theatre Factory” Hall, which sheltered the first electric factory in Iași and “Theatre at the Cube” Hall – inaugurated in 2008 and which received the National Architecture Prize in the same year. The “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre was designated the second theatre in the world which is “breath taking”, according to a BBC top, thus, in the last years, becoming a true tourist attraction.
For more informations regarding the theatre as institution, click here.