She had a special charm and an innate talent on the board, Rodica Tapalagă perhaps the best “Zoe” of Romanian theatre.

Rodica Tapalagă, the most talented “Coana Joițica” of the Romanian stage, was born on January 12, 1939, in Dorohoi and was an iconic film, radio, theatre, television and voice actress.

When she was only three months old, she moved with her parents to Bucharest, where she would experience success years later on the Romanian theatre “stage”. A graduate of the Institute of Theatre and Film Arts in Bucharest, class of 1959, she made her big screen debut in 1958 in the comedy “Hello?… you’ve got the wrong number!”, alongside other great names of the Romanian stage and film.

Rodica Tapalagă was an actress who spent her life on stage. She was cast in roles on the stages of several theatres in the country: the National Theatre of Craiova, the Nottara Theatre and the Mic Theatre. From 1961 to 2010 (with a brief stint between 1977-1981 when she played at the Teatrul Mic) she was an actress of the Lucia Sturdza Bulandra Theatre in Bucharest, being the last actress personally employed by Lucia Sturza Bulandra.

Among the most significant classical plays in which she shone on Romanian stages, we can mention O scrisoare pierdută by I. L. Caragiale, directed by Liviu Ciulei, D-ale carnavalului by I. L. Caragiale, directed by Lucian Pintilie, Nu sunt Turnul Eiffel by Ecaterina Oproiu, directed by Valeriu Moisescu, Tartuffe by Molière, directed by Alexandru Tocilescu, and the list goes on.

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Tapalaga Rodica actress
Rodica Tapalaga, archive image

Rodica Tapalagă overflowing with talent and dedication on stage

Rodica Tapalagă’s unmistakable voice made her a star in the radio theatre, where she played dozens of roles, and she was featured in numerous sketches and TV variety shows alongside other great actors such as Toma Caragiu, Dem Rădulescu, Mitică Popescu, Stela Popescu, Ștefan Tapalgă (her brother).

The talented actress also excelled in films. Her filmography includes: “Close to the Sun” (1960, directed by Savel Stiopul), “Five Men on the Road” (1962, directed by Gabriel Barta, Mihai Bucur), “Politics and… delicatessen” (1963, directed by Haralambie Boroș), “Tănase Scatiu” (1976, directed by Dan Pița), “Between Parallel Mirrors” (1978, directed by Mircea Veroiu), “January Dream” (1978, directed by Nicolae Oprițescu), “The Artist, the Dollars and the Ardelenii” (1978, directed by Mircea Veroiu), “Clipa” (1979, directed by Gheorghe Vitannidis), “For Your Sake, Anca!” (1983, directed by Cristiana Nicolae), “Love and Revolution” (1983, directed by Gheorghe Vitanidis), “I Want to Know Why I Have Wings” (1983, directed by Nicu Stan), according to the volume “1234 Romanian Filmmakers” (Editura Științifică, Bucharest, 1996).

Rodica Tapalagă, with Victor Rebengiuc, archive image

Rodica Tapalagă has received numerous awards and distinctions, and rightly so. Among the most important ones is the National Order “For Merit” in the rank of Officer (1 December 2000) “for outstanding artistic achievements and for the promotion of culture, on Romania’s National Day”.

“I remember that Rodica Tapalagă was an outstanding actress. She was a force, a typhoon, a talent, pure and simple. She has an important place in the history of Romanian theatre”, said the famous actor Florin Zamfirescu, her stage colleague.

Rodica Tapalaga with Stefan Banica senior
Rodica Tapalaga with Stefan Banica senior, image archive TVR

As far as Rodica Tapalagă’s personal life is concerned, she was married to stage designer Ion Popescu-Udriște, with whom she has a son – Barbu Popescu.

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Rodica Tapalagă was fond of reading, among her favourite authors were Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, because they are “sentimental, human, warm”, she said. What many people don’t know about the actress is that those close to her found her difficult, demanding of herself and others, but very talented and hardworking. She chose her roles with great care, excelling in every performance.

The talented actress of the Romanian theatre died at the age of 71, on 18 December 2010, in Bucharest, at her home, following an illness that affected her lungs and kidneys. The disease that took the life of the great Romanian theatre actress is called cholagenosis and had worsened in the last months of her life.

Rodica Tapalagă was loved and applauded by the Romanian public for her numerous appearances in plays and films, playing unforgettable characters that enriched Romanian culture.

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