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Harta Teatrul National Marin Sorescu

The lady of the sea

„Amza Pellea” Hall

by Henrik Ibsen

Direction, co-scenography, light-design, musical illustration: Andriy Zholdak

Co-direction: Kathya Zholdak

Play translation & direction assistance: Valeriu Andriuță

Artistic Advisor: George Banu

Stage version: Ioana Mălău

Decor & video: Danilo Zholdak

Costumes: Yan Zholdak

Music: Valentyn Silvestrov

Photo credit: Cristian Floriganță

Translator: Corina Druc

Project Manager: Haricleea Nicolau

Stage directors: Sorin Gruia, Cristian Petec

Master of lights: Dodu Ispas

Sound operator: Emy Guran

Video: Florin Chirea, Emi Chirea, Orlando Edward

Makeup: Minela Popa, Mihaela Guran

Cast:: Costinela Ungureanu (Ellida Wangel), Nicolae Vicol B (Dr. Wangel), Angel Rababoc (Inspector Arnholm), Raluca Păun (Maid), Petronela Zurba (Dr. Wangel's first wife), Cătălin-Mihai Miculeasa (Lyngstrand), Cătălin Vieru (Ballested), Irina Danciu (Bolette), Roxana Mutu (Hilde)

Prompter: Iarina Zidaru and Anca Maria Ilinca

Premiere date: 5-6 February 2022

Duration of the show: Part 1 - 1h 46 min; Part 2 - 1h 39 min

*Show recommended for people over 18 years old

WARNING! Strobe lights are used in this show!


The play The lady of the sea (Fruen fra havet) was written in 1888 in Germany and had its world premiere at the Christiania Theatre on 12 February 1889. Threatened by a complicated love affair, Ellida, the central character, is incredulous that mankind was destined to live on land. She is in love with the ocean, fascinated by its boundlessness and the demonic energy in which she senses an expression of the forces of life. This character of the sea is externalised in her former lover, the Stranger, who exerts a remarkable hypnotic power over her.


"Andriy Zholdak staged Rosmersholm, another Ibsen play, where symbolism and realism also come together. Now he confronts The Woman of the Sea and the insatiable appetite for immensity of this heroine raised on a lighthouse in the middle of the water and stranded on the shore of a mediocre fjord. Zholdak mobilises the resources of theatre to materialise the "need for elsewhere". The vital need... and, for him, the need for theatre."

(George Banu, (George Banu, The Woman of the Sea or... The Need for Somewhere Else, / excerpt from the programme of the performance) sau… Nevoia de altundeva, / extras din caietul program al spectacolului)


"My Ellida is alive today, I often meet her in different cities and countries I travel to. (...) This Ellida is in a state of titanic change, from the 'herself' of today to the 'not-self' of tomorrow. Like the reflection of a figure in water, when the wind blows the water away, the reflection shudders and changes its proportions, it is no longer the same as the original. (...) This Ellida knows about Kolima and Auschwitz, she knows that God "has left" and is preparing for the "journey", the "flight", the "emigration", the "flight" from us all to that somewhere, about which Sonia in Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya" said that "you see the angels, you see heaven shining like a jewel".

(Andriy Zholdak, My Ellida Lives in the 21st Century! / excerpt from the programme of the performance)


Andriy Zholdak, a Ukrainian-born theater and opera director born in Kyiv, studied theater directing in Moscow in the class of Professor Anatoly Vasilyev. He has staged theater and opera performances in Ukraine, France, Russia, Romania, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Macedonia, Belgium, Poland, Montenegro. His lectures on "The Actor of the Future" and "Quantum Theater" as well as special workshops dissecting the Art of Acting were held in Brazil, Japan, Italy, Spain. She received the UNESCO Award for Performing Arts in 2004, and the Golden Mask Award for Best Opera and Directing for her staging with Evgheni Oneghin by Tchaikovsky at the Mikhailovsky Theater in St. Petersburg (2014) and Best Ensemble for Three Sisters by Chekhov at the Alexandrinski Theater (2016). Her staging of Tchaikovsky's Witch at the Lyon Opera was declared the Best Performance of 2019 at the German OPER Awards and nominated for Best Production at the 2020 OPER World Awards. on stage was the opera Castle of Prince Beard-Blue-Blue by Bartok at the Lyon Opera , in the spring of 2021.


"Zholdak is a great director of actresses. They constitute a veritable gallery ranging from Viața cu un idiot at Livada de vișini, of the Madame Bovary and Nana at Rosmersholm. Here he reveals a unique performer, Costinela Ungureanu, whom he conducts alternating everyday behaviour and lyrical impulses, giving her an immaterial, particularly fragile dimension. Everything in her play attests to the power of her passion for the extension of the sea and the need for love, for extreme dedication. We follow Elida's depression and her desire to free herself from the family environment that suffocates her. She is stirred by the call of the sea as the ultimate chance of survival. Such an actress exceeds the power of words to convey the richness of her play. A poem would be necessary. How I loved Zholdak's Elida..."

George Banu, "The Impact of Excess - Sculpture and Theatre", Dilema veche, 3-9 March 2022

"The performer in this show is Costinela Ungureanu (Ellida). With an all in faith in the director's proposal, she allowed herself to become the stage expression of Andriy Zholdak's brutal will. It doesn't seem to have kept anything to itself; there are no reservations, but a constant four-hour pulse of an energy that fuels every scene, every squirm, every word rattled like heavy wheels under which the bones of consciousness creak. It's intense and powerful performance without a safety net, where control is not a focus, but the fluidity of these states pushed to the violent extremes of artistic expression. The madness of the character, the madness of the director and the madness of the actress enclose in a mystical-blasphemous triangle the incandescent spirit amidst the sea-symbol."

Alina Epîngeac, theatre critic https://epingeac.wordpress.com

Realizarea Costinelei Ungureanu în rolul Ellidei este imposibil de evitat, fiind un parcurs plin de forță și ludic. În fiecare moment tânără actriță jonglează între mai multe măști, de la figuri umane până la figuri animalice (delfin ori vultur, specifice formelor sirenei). Procesul ei de descompunere este prezentat potențat și agravant cu fiecare moment care trece. Prezența ei pe scenă, timp de mai bine de trei ore, arată o anduranță și asumare de necontestat. Ellida ocupă întreg spațiul prin agitația sa extatică, un animal în cușcă care aleargă disperat în spațiul mult prea strâns pentru el. Sensibilă, îndurerată, înnebunită, Ellida urlă a libertate în fiecare moment, încearcă permanent să-și convingă stăpânul să o elibereze.

Octavian Szalad,  “Când o sirenă plânge, o lume e pe cale să dispară” – Teatrul Azi  nr.3-4, 2022

"The staging of this text at the National Theatre of Craiova arouses controversial reactions and disturbs a certain type of audience that finds itself in the story and does not know how to overcome the situation. Used lately to online and short performances, averaging somewhere around 1h 30 min, and having a power of concentration during these types of performances, they found the show long, repetitive and out of step with what is usually broadcast or what is seen in the auditorium. The four hours, with intermission, are unevenly divided in terms of the number of actors on stage as well as the set.
At first glance, the objections can be justified: the actors are all present only in the first part, the set design is not the happiest - from certain angles it doesn't look the same, but this psychological show is built on a perfect recipe that makes it extraordinary. A careful, in-depth analysis of all the elements shows that the show follows the structure and grid of dramatic conventions exactly according to a well-established, difficult algorithm, and the result is visible: a modern show created with the help of these small imperfections. The composition of such a performance takes as its point of reference a series of precise rules, of a certain structure and a certain type of behaviour, but only to be broken and to complete a contemporary artistic act."
Georgiana Ene, Metropolis Newspaper
"Costinela Ungureanu (nominated for the Best Supporting Actress award at the most recent UNITER Gala, for her role as Alexandra in Dan Coman's "Heart and Other Meat Preparations", directed by Radu Afrim) is astonishing in her capacity for effort, concentration, speech, silence, singing, dancing, gesticulating, running, hugging, running away. Zholdak's imposed triad seems to have been dynamism - sexuality - communication beyond the stage."
Mihai Brezeanu, LiterNet.ro
"The Lady of the Sea goes beyond the boundaries of a theatrical performance, it becomes a symbol, a metaphor of man's thirst for HOME. The Woman of the Sea is a universe in itself, in which music, scenery, actor, light will materialize things that are not actually tangible. And this is precisely where the fascination it exudes comes from."


Photos from rehearsals




The lady of the sea