Romania’s culture minister has resigned amid a dispute at the Romanian National Opera, Bucharest which has seen staff protests and three performances cancelled.

Vlad Alexandrescu announced that he would be stepping down in a letter to the Prime Minister posted on his Facebook page on 27 April.

Alexandrescu explained that the situation at the opera house was the reason behind his resignation, writing: ‘Changes made in good faith led to unexpected explosions and an intolerable situation.’ He continued: ‘The forces of those hostile to change, who oppose the mechanisms of the natural renewal and rejuvenation of the arts and museum sectors in Romania, have become so vocal that what we started is endangered.’

Vlad Alexandrescu Photo: Sorin Lupsa
Vlad Alexandrescu
Photo: Sorin Lupsa

On 26 April, the opera house’s interim management banned ballerina Alina Cojocaru, dancer and choreographer Johan Kobborg and seven others from entering the premises without security following a conflict with the company’s interim leadership.

Kobborg, who began working at the opera in 2013, resigned on 12 April after two years in the post due to the fact that dancers felt ‘intimidated and threatened’ under the new management.

While around 30 dancers refused to perform in a show of solidarity with Kobborg, the opera house’s employees expressed support for the new management, protesting the disparity between the wages of local dancers and those brought to perform from abroad.

The situation has not been helped by multiple changes in administration over recent months. George Calin was appointed as interim manager for three months on 20 April, but has since been removed from the post.

Government ministers and the prime minister have intervened in an effort to find a solution. The deputy prime minister, Vasile Dincu, spoke with opera house employees on 26 April. Their demands included an audit of the opera’s financial operations for the last three years and the appointment of a replacement for Kobborg.