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Theaters’ history    EN


After the Romanian occupation of Constanţa, information on the artistic life in the town is more consistent. Plays in Greek were presented in 1880 on the stage of the Schlaff Garden, and artistic companies, such as those of Marinescu, Burienescu or Matei Millo visited Constanţa and held shows at the casino and on local stages [1].

After 1895, when Constanţa was linked to Romania by the completion of the bridge across the Danube and when tourism started to develop on the Romanian coast of the Black Sea, most of the fashionable Romanian troupes visited Constanţa and played equally for its inhabitants and for the incoming visitors. Several summer theatres were established and hosted actors from the national theatres in Bucharest, Iaşi or Craiova (I. Constantinescu, C. Radovici, N. Vlădoanu, Aristiţa Romanescu, V. Leonescu, Aglaia Pruteanu, Gheorghe Al. Cârjă, A. L. Bobescu, Şt. Nicolescu Zaharia Burienescu etc.). These troupes visited Constanţa especially during the summer season and presented a large variety of shows, from the classical plays of Moliere or Shakespeare to the creations of fashionable Romanian dramatists such as Vasile Alecsandri or I. L. Caragiale [2].

After the completion of the new casino, the inaugural show was presented by Al. Davilla, with stars of the Romanian stage such as Tony and Lucia Sturdza Bulandra. Other shows were held by the troupes led by N. Niculescu Buzău or Constantin Nottara [3].

Classical music and opera was also staged with both Romanian and foreign artists, such as Teodor Popescu, Aron Bobescu, Al. P. Marinescu, George Georgescu, Bârcănescu, Grigoriu, Nae Leonard, Maximilian. In 1907 the Italian company of Ernica Massini played at Constanţa, and also concerts were held by soprano Elena Drăgulinescu, baritones Jean Athanasiu, violoncellist Papazoglu, and coral and orchestral troupes. Professor Grigoraş Dinicu, from the Conservatory of Bucharest, and orchestra director George Georgescu, were also present at Constanţa [4].

Regarding theatre stages, the most important was the Elpis Theatre, inaugurated in December 1898 by the local Greek community. The building was designed by French architect L. Piver and the construction was coordinated by I. Vlahopoulos. It also hosted a library with Greek and foreign books. The “Company of Lyric–Dramatic Artists”, guided by Aristide Stratis, was founded in 1899 and greatly supported the community’s artistic life. It was later led by personalities such as Tsitsilianopoulos, Paxinos, Hr. Kalderimis and Zotos Konstantinidis, who inspired many of the inhabitants of Constanţa with their plays and shows. A “Musical Section” was established in 1905 under the leadership of Zotou Konstantinidou, Hr. Gragopoulou and M. Karavasili, who organised a choir and a mandolin orchestra. The Elpis Theatre hosted important Greek cultural personalities, such as Evaghelia Paraskevopoulou, Theodoros Pofantis, Ad. Taboularis, Aperrgis, Marika Kotopouli (1912), Operetta Papaioannou, who staged a wide range of plays, from the classical and modern Greek repertoire [5]. As it was the only proper theatre in Constanţa until the foundation of the modern casino in 1910, it also hosted shows for the representatives of the other communities living in the Black Sea port.

Picture Elpis Theatre



[1] Details in Din tezaurul documentar dobrogean, edited by Marin Stanciu (Bucharest: Direcţia Generală a Arhivelor Statului din RSR, 1988), 146; Constantin Şerban, Victoria Şerban, “Începuturi de modernizare în oraşul Constanţa (1878–1900)”, Comunicări de istorie a Dobrogei (Constanţa: Muzeul de Istorie Naţională şi Arheologie, 1980), vol. I, 67–68; Maria Boia, “Activitatea cultural-artistică din Dobrogea în perioada 1878–1916, mijloc de afirmare a conştiinţei naţionale a poporului român”, Analele Dobrogei, new series, 3:1 (1997), 142.

[2] Data in Din tezaurul, 221–222, 228, 267–268, 273–275, 281–282, 289–290, 293, 296, 307; Boia, “Activitatea”, 142–143; Constantin Cheramidoglu, “La teatru, în Constanţa veche”, Poliţia impact, September 2011, 15–16.

[3]Din tezaurul, 328, 364, 377–378, 399–400; Boia, “Activitatea”, 144–145; Ileana Pitrescu, Anna Maria Diana, “Cazinoul din Constanța”, Analele Dobrogei, 4:1 (1998), 191–195.

[4] Boia, “Activitatea”, 146–147; Pitrescu, Diana, “Cazinoul”, 191–195.

[5], 8–9.


Archival sources:

Serviciul Judeţean Constanţa al Arhivelor Naţionale (The National Archives, Constanţa Branch), Primăria municipiului Constanţa (The Municipality of Constanţa), files starting with 1878.


Boia, Maria, “Activitatea cultural–artistică din Dobrogea în perioada 1878–1916, mijloc de afirmare a conştiinţei naţionale a poporului român” [The Cultural–Artistic Activity in Dobrudja during the Period 1878–1916, a Means of Affirmation of the National Consciousness of the Romanian People”, Analele Dobrogei, 3:1 (1997), 141–148.

Cheramidoglu, Constantin, “La teatru, în Constanţa veche” [At Theatre, in Old Constanţa], Poliţia impact, September 2011, 15–16.

Din tezaurul documentar dobrogean [Treasure of Documents from Dobrudja], edited by Marin Stanciu (Bucharest: Direcţia Generală a Arhivelor Statului din RSR, 1988).

Pitrescu, Ileana, Diana, Anna Maria, “Cazinoul din Constanța” [The Casino of Constanţa], Analele Dobrogei, 4:1 (2000), 191–195.

Şerban, Constantin, Şerban, Victoria, “Începuturi de modernizare în oraşul Constanţa (1878–1900)” [Beginnings of Modernisation in Constanţa City (1878–1900)], Comunicări de istorie a Dobrogei [Papers on the History of Dobrudja] (Constanţa: Muzeul de Istorie Naţională şi Arheologie, 1980), vol. I, 57–70.