Maria Filotti passed away more than six decades ago, but she was to remain immortal in the collective memory of theatre and film lovers as one of the most important actresses of all time on the Romanian stage.
Maria Filotti knew the secret of artistic evolution: eternal self-satisfaction
Maria Filotti was a perfectionist by definition, always subject to inner struggles. Like any great artist who respects the public but also respects herself, the great lady of the theatre used to live under the sign of questioning.
She was clear-headed to the core, extremely logical, temperamental and possessed an intelligence beyond the ordinary.
“The theatre of the past had the unfortunate tendency to confine the actor within the shell of a formula,” Maria Filotti once declared.
She was, by turns, Phaedra, Arkadina in The Seagull, Queen of England, Empress of Byzantium or “Lady with the Camellias”, but also Zoe in A Lost Letter or Veta in A Stormy Night.
About herself, Maria Filotti was to say that she was eternally dissatisfied with herself.
She was born in 1883, in the village of Batogu in the county of Braila, and later graduated from the Conservatory, despite her father’s opposition.
Over the years, he would share the theatre stage and life with Bulandra, Grigore Vasiliu-Birlic, Clody Bertola, Tantzi Cocea, Constantin Nottara, Maria Ventura and many others.
She went through many difficult periods of recent history
She has faced the most bitter years of history, seeing both world wars unfold before her eyes, as well as the era when Romanian theatre was transformed from an art form into a method of veiled political propaganda to the public.
About this, Maria Filotti said: “So English and Americans, zero. Russian or Soviet authors were out of the question. (…) In order to play French authors, they had to be passed through the censor’s bullhorn, who had to find that they were of guaranteed Aryan ancestry, which was not always possible. Unless it was an author who was playing in Paris under occupation, you couldn’t give the censors any guarantees (…) What was left? Naturally, the reservoir of Italian plays. As far as Italian authors were concerned, there was no question of their racial origin, as an author who had performed in Italy was a sufficient guarantee for the authorities.
Finally, the Italian theatre production of those years was a reservoir of hidden tendencies of protest against the ideology of the fascist regime, tendencies that were certainly indirect and very attenuated, but which nevertheless existed, and which made these plays closer to the feelings of our public”, according to the Metropolis newspaper.
Years later, by Decree no. 43 of 23 January 1953 of the Presidium of the Great National Assembly of the Romanian People’s Republic, he was awarded the title of Emeritus Artist of the Romanian People’s Republic “for outstanding merits, for valuable achievements in art and for meritorious activity”.
The theatre in Braila has been named after Maria Filotti since 1969 until today.
Maria Filotti is the mother of writer and producer Ion Filotti Cantacuzino and the grandmother of actor Șerban Cantacuzino.
According to Wikipedia, she has, over the years, performed in the following roles: Gioconda in Gabriele D’Annunzio’s “Gioconda” (1904 -1905 season), Silvia in Haralamb Lecca’s “Suprema Forza” ( 1904 – 1905, tour), Nenela in Giuseppe Giacosa’s “Ca Frunzele” (1905 – 1906, tour), Enriqueta in José Echegaray’s “Sângele Spală” (1905 -1906, tour), Catherine de Septmonts from “In the Big World” by Alexandre Dumas son (1906 – 1907, Iasi), Berta from “Victims of the Law” by Landray (1906 – 1907, Iasi), Clara Tardini from “The Card Players” by Hatalamb Lecca (1906-1907, Iasi), Henriette from “The Two Orphans” by A. d’Ennery and Cormon (1906-1907, Iași), Germaine Lechat from “Les Banii (Les Affaires Sont les Affaires)” (1906-1907, Iași), Nelly Rozier from “Stafia Bărbat” by M. Hennequin and Bilhaud (1906-1907, Iași), Thomry from “Martira” by Jean Richepin (1906-1907, Iași), Elena de Bréchebel from “Vijelia (La Rafale)” by Henri Bernstein (1906-1907, Iași)), Elissa from “Rahab” by Rudolf von Gottschall (1906-1907, Iași), Lady Milford from “Intrigue and Love” by Friedrich Schiller (1906-1907, tour), Maria from “Magda (Heimat)” by H. Sudermann (1906-1907, tour), Toinetta from “Eva” by Richard Voss (1906-1907, tour), Neera from “Fântâna Blanduziei” by Vasile Alecsandri (1907-1908, Bucharest), Vidra from “Răzvan și Vidra” by Bogdan Petriceicu-Hașdeu (1907-1908), Eglea from “Dragoste cu toane” by J. W. Goethe (1907-1908), Corina from “Ovidiu” by Alecsandri (1907 – 1908), Zoe from “O Scrisoare Pierdută” by I.L. Caragiale (1922 – 1923), Countess Almaviva from “The Marriage of Figaro” by Beaumarchais (1922 – 1923), Hedda Gabler from “Hedda Gabler” by Henrik Ibsen, Queen Elisabeth from “Maria Stuart” by Schiller (1923 – 1924, Bulandra) and Irina from “The Seagull” by Chekhov (1923 – 1924).
Immediately after the installation of communism, she made a name for herself as Zoe in Alexandru Kirițescu’s “Gaițele” (1949 -1950, National Theatre), Melania in Maxim Gorky’s “Egor Bullkhov and Others” (1950 -1951) and Adela in Horia Lovinescu’s “The Shattered Citadel” (1954 – 1955).
At her request, her house in Bucharest, located at 12 Vasile Pârvan Street, Sector 1, was transformed into a museum and opened to the public in 1965, trying to preserve intact the atmosphere of the artist’s lifetime.