The current National Theatre was inaugurated in 1896 and from 1956 the Opera institution was established and the name changed to Vasile Alecsandri National Theatre, after the renowned Romanian playwright and poet.
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 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.
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.
If you’re visiting Iași with your kids, Teatrul Luceafărul would be a good option for them to enjoy a play.
This appeared as a puppet theatre in 1949. The residence was situated in a room of 200 seats, in the yard of the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, it diversified the shows, so that music, poetry, pantomime and dance gradually joined the puppets, in 1973 becoming Theatre for Children and Youth. If initially the main sources of inspiration for the shows were inspired from Romanian folk stories, later on universal literature would be present on the Iași scene through many famous titles. “Tartarin of Tarascon” of the writer Alphonse Daudet or “Forced marriage”, creation of the theatre writer Moliére, are examples of the first foreign works played in Iași, for children. The opening play of the Theatre was “The Gold Fish” by the Grimm brothers, which remains a landmark of the institution, being replayed on anniversary occasions. But the oldest play in the theatre’s repertoire is “Punguța cu doi bani” after Ion Creangă.
Nowadays, no matter your age, you can enjoy here great performances. The International Festival for Young Public (FITPT) is one of the events which gathers famous international artists each October, with over 200 actors from 15 countries. The quality of the plays performed here is reflected in the difficulty of finding tickets for some of the shows.
Next up, the Tătărași Athenaeum. The institution was founded in 1920 but the current building was inaugurated in 2003. The members of the founding association included intellectuals, clergymen and even simple people from the neighbourhood. The institution’s main mission was promoting and supporting national culture in Tătărași neighbourhood. The athenaeum’s members maintained permanent cultural links to similar institutions in other Romanian provinces through numerous theatre, poetry, dance and festival tours. The building, in Neo Romanian style, shaped as a cula from Oltenia, was damaged by the 1977 earthquake and then, demolished. The institution was founded again in 2003, in a new modern building.
Under the slogan “Union Through Culture”, the present day institution hosts a widely diverse array of cultural events: theater, opera, humor and satirical graphics festivals, some of which were premieres, while others are already well-known both locally and nationally, Romanian plays, especially comedies, concerts of famous artists, book launch events, inaugurations of new and unique exhibition venues.