Vasile Moldoveanu (born 6 October 1935, Constanța) is a Romanian tenor.
The Romanian tenor Vasile Moldoveanu was born in Constanța, on 6 October 1935, and he studied canto at the "Ciprian Porumbescu" University of Music in Bucharest, under the supervision of the tenor Dinu Bădescu, as a student in the class prepared by Octav Enigărescu. His debut was at the Romanian Opera in Bucharest, on 9 January 1966, as Arlecchino in Pagliacci, by Ruggero Leoncavallo.
His career in Romania was relatively short. He sang only at the Romanian Opera in Bucharest (today known as Bucharest National Opera) for seven seasons, between 1966-1971. He sang in 22 operas, mainly secondary roles, but also some main roles: Rinuccio (Gianni Schcchi), Rodolfo (La bohème), Il Duca di Mantova (Rigoletto), Ernesto (Don Pasquale), Tamino (Die Zauberflöte - which is also his last performance in Romania, on 23 June 1972). He also appeared on the first opera LPs from Electrecord, in secondary roles (La traviata, Samson et Dalila, Carmen).
In 1971 he was invited by the Viktor Vladarski and Friedrich Pasch agencies to a series of auditions in Germany. As he was not a member of the Romanian Communist Party, he had difficulties in obtaining the visa for this travel abroad. He arrived in Germany in 1972 and decided not to return to communist Romania. The authorities start an inquiry and he receives the death penalty, in his absence, because of an abusive interpretation of a paragraph of the Penal Code of 1968, which associated the charge of "refusal to return to the country" during a "mission of representation of the Romanian state" with the charge of "country treason". After the Penal Code was modified in 1973, the case is judged again in absence and the tenor Vasile Moldoveanu is sentenced to five years imprisonment and seizure of property. Similar unusual stories belong to the Romanian director Petrică Ionescu, or to the ballet dancer Sergiu Stefanschi.
In 1972, Vasile Moldoveanu made his first professional appearance as Manrico (Il trovatore) at the Regensburg Opera. Then, in Amsterdam, he was be Rodolfo (La bohème), followed by Il Duca di Mantova (Rigoletto) at the Opera in Saint Gallen. His debut at the State Opera in Vienna took place with Alfredo (La traviata) in 1973, but he would return here in 1987, as Des Grieux (Manon Lescaut). In the same year, 1973, he appeared for the first time as Don Carlo in Verdi's homonymous opera. This was to become one of Vasile Moldoveanu's emblematic roles - he sang over 75 times during his career.
In 1974 he signed a four year contract with the Stuttgart Opera, managed at that time by Wolfgang Windgassen. Following this, he sang in numerous productions of this opera house: Lucia di Lammermoor, La bohème, Un ballo in maschera, La traviata. In 1976 he was cast in Rigoletto, directed by Roman Polansky, at München Opera. While singing in Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, München, Berlin, Ludwigsburg, Moldoveanu is discovered by Nelly Walter, vice-president of Columbia Artists Management, who became his manager for 11 years and who proposed Vasile Moldoveanu at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The year 1979 sees his debut at the Covent Garden, London, in Don Carlo (Luchino Visconti's historical production).
In 1977, Moldoveanu becomes Kammersänger of the Opera in Stuttgart.
His first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera took place on 19 May 1977, during a tour of the company in Minneapolis/Minesotta, as Rodolfo, in La bohème, with Renata Scotto as Mimi (he was to sing with her in several operas). At the Metropolitan Opera, he sang in 105 performances, more than any other Romanian tenor - Vasile Moldoveanu is the Romanian opera singer with the most presences in a main role, after the World War Two. For the comparison's sake, during the same years when Vasile Moldoveanu was singing at the Met, 1977-1986, Luciano Pavarotti had 100 appearances, Plácido Domingo - 149, José Carreras - 51. 105 appearances had, between the two world wars, the soprano Amelita Galli-Curci, for a similar interval, of 10 years.
He sang ten parts at the Metropolitan Opera, and was broadcast live on TV in Don Carlo (1980 - 11 performances), Il tabarro (1981 - 12 performances), Simon Boccanegra (1984 - 27 performances). Besides these roles, he also sang Arrigo in I Vespri Siciliani (4 performances), Turridu in Cavalleria rusticana (8 performances), Cavaradossi in Tosca (3 performances), Rodolfo in La bohème (6 performances), Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut (14 performances), Duca di Mantova in Rigoletto (8 performances) and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly (12 performances). Starting with 1987, after a complicated surgery, he reduces his activity on the American continent. His last appearances in the United States are at the Denver Opera: Calaf (Turandot) and Des Grieux (Manon Lescaut).
He returns to Europe and continues his career in Paris (Manon Lescaut - 9 performances in 1991 and 5 more in 1993), Monaco (I Vespri siciliani and Aida - directed by Giancarlo del Monaco), Nice (La fanciulla del West, directed by Petrică Ionescu), Roma (Turandot), Lisabona (Manon Lescaut), Parma (Don Carlo), Pretoria, South Africa (Un ballo in maschera) and different cities in Germany (mainly Stuttgart and Hamburg). In fact, the only important opera house where Vasile Moldoveanu did not sing was Teatro alla Scala, Milano, even though there were some discussions for a performance with I Vespri siciliani.
During a career that spanned over 30 years, Vasile Moldoveanu sang with many great lyrical artists or conductors: Boris Cristoff, Ghena Dimitrova, Hildegard Behrens, Sylvia Sass, Theresa Zylis-Gara, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Galina Savova, Renato Bruson, Sherrill Milnes, Ana Tomova-Sintow, Magda Olivero, Piero Capucilli, Joan Sutherland, Leonie Rysanek, Renata Scotto, Cesare Siepi, Aprile Millo, Margaret Price, Roberta Peters, Monserrat Caballé, Maria Chiara, Aldo Proti, Ursula Koszut, Mirella Freni, Azuko Azuma, Teresa Stratas, Nancy Shade, Raina Kabaivanska, Eva Marton, Kiri Te Kanawa, Edita Gruberova, Ferruccio Furlanetto, James Levine, Nello Santi, Riccardo Chailly, Carlo Franci, Michel Plasson, Francesco Molinari Pradelli, Antonio Guadagno, Giuseppe Patane, Rafael Kubelik, Carlo Franci, Leonard Slatkin, Thomas Fulton, Myung-Whun Chung (his debut at the Met was in a performance with Simon Boccanegra, in 1986), James Conlon, Silvio Varviso.
Vasile Moldoveanu's voice had a very beautiful and vibrant timbre, of lyrical tenor, as he always considered himself to be, but with a very steady and strong acute register, which allowed him to successfully approach roles which were typical for spinto tenors (Calaf, Don Carlo, Don José, Manrico), but also dramatic roles (Radames, Dick Johnson). His voice, sometimes compared to the voice of the great tenors of the past, such as Giovanni Martinelli or Franco Corelli, was supported by a slim figure and ardent eyes. This made him to be highly appreciated in some roles, such as Luigi, from Il tabarro: after the TV broadcast of this performance, from the Met Opera, his fans and his colleagues started to call him "Luigi! Look, there's Luigi!"
Paradoxically, even though he had an important career, mainly at the Metropolitan Opera, and even though he was promoted by the media in an age when live TV broadcasts had just started, Vasile Moldoveanu is little known in Romania. This lack of notoriety was caused especially by the censorship in place during communism, exactly when the Romanian tenor was at the height of his career.
In 2010, Vasile Moldoveanu appealed against the sentence that had sent him to jail and was absolutely discharged.
In 2012, he was decorated with "The Order of The Star of Romania", as Commander, one of the oldest and highest decorations in Romania.
At present, Vasile Moldoveanu lives in Monte Carlo and he gives master classes for young singers, mainly from Romania
There are few recordings with Vasile Moldoveanu, but still, we mention two LPs with opera arias, by Intercord, made in 1976 and 1978, and also those produced by Electrecord.
Berühmte Tenor-Arien (1976),
Neapolitan Songs (1978),
There are numerous live recordings of the radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and different bootlegs.
Mascagni: Cavalleria rusticana - Hamburg, 1986 - with: Galina Savova, Vasile Moldoveanu, Piero Cappuccilli; conductor: Ricco Saccani, the Orchestra of Budapest Opera House.
Unlike the studio recordings, Vasile Moldoveanu's videography is more consistent:
Giuseppe Verdi: Don Carlo - with: Vasile Moldoveanu (Don Carlo) ; Renata Scotto (Elisabeth of Valois) ; Tatiana Troyanos (Princess of Eboli) ; Sherrill Milnes (Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa) ; Paul Plishka (Philip II) ; Jerome Hines (The Grand Inquisitor) ; Peter Sliker (A forester) ; Betsy Norden (Tebaldo) ; Dana Talley (The Count of Lerma) ; Barbara Greene (The Countess of Aremberg) ; John Cheek (A friar) ; Timothy Jenkins (A royal herald) ; Therese Brandson (A celestial voice) ; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus ; conductor: James Levine; director: John Dexter - New York City, February 1980, live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York,
Giacomo Puccini: Il tabarro - with: Renata Scotto, Vasile Moldoveanu, Cornell Mc Neill, Charles Anthony, Italo Tajo, Bianca Berini, Jeffrey Stamm, Louisa Wohlafka, Michael Best, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus; conductor: James Levine; director: Fabrizio Melano ; Based on recordings of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, November 1981,
Giuseppe Verdi: Simon Boccanegra - with: Anna Tomova-Sintow, Sherrill Milnes, Vasile Moldoveanu, Paul Plishka; conductor: James Levine; artistic director: Tito Capobianco; Based on recordings of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, 1984,
Giuseppe Verdi: I vespri siciliani - with: Guido de Montforte - Eduard Tumagian, Il Sire di Bethume - Alan Charles, Il Conte Vaudemont - Jacques Doumene, Arrigo - Vasile Moldoveanu, Giovanni da Procida - Zenon Kosnowski, La Duchessa Elena - Maria Temesi, Ninetta - Linda Bond Perry, Danieli - Michel Cambon, Tebaldo - Louis Mathieu, Roberto - Patrick Rocco, Manfredo - Alain Munier; The Orchestra of the Opera House in Nice; conductor: Oleg Caetani, video recording of the performances at the Opera House in Nice (15, 17, 19 and 23 June 1984),
Vasile Moldoveanu - Un tenor român pe patru continente - Ioana Diaconescu, Editura Muzicală, 2011, Bucharest,
Opera Română - deceniul cinci - 1961 - 1971 - Anca Florea, Editura Curtea Veche, 2006, Bucharest,
Opera Română - deceniul șase - 1971 - 1981 - Anca Florea, Editura DC, 2009, Bucharest.,
"Opera on Video - A Personal Review" - Michael Richter, 1997