The one-act operas of Nicolae Bretan
Wood, Charles E.
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While many artists prospered and enjoyed free expression during the twentieth century, others were stifled by suppressive rulers and regimes. The latter was the case with the Romanian composer, singer, and opera director, Nicolae Bretan. In 1947, the Communist Party (PCR) in Romania demanded Bretan force his daughter Judit to stop seeing an American diplomat, a man she later married. When Bretan refused, he was asked to prove his loyalty to Romania by joining the Communist Party. Again, he refused. In response, the Party declared Bretan a “non-person” and Nicolae Bretan, well known to the Romanian and Hungarian public as a singer, stage director, and promising composer, ceased to exist. Bretan composed three one-act operas, Luceafãrul, Golem, and Arald, and one four-act opera, Horia. He also composed over 200 art songs in Romanian, Hungarian, and German in addition to several sacred works including a Requiem. Thanks to the tireless efforts of his daughter Judit, now living in the Washington D.C. area, Bretan’s music is emerging from exile and is being heard in a free Romania. As artists privileged to live in the free society of the United States, we share an obligation to help undo a political injustice done not only to Bretan himself, but the injustice done to all of us who respect the artistic achievements in Western culture and have been deprived of the artistry of Nicolae Bretan.