Life from Pata Rât, on the stage of the Romanian National Opera in Cluj-Napoca. When will the premiere take place?

In the evening of May 10, 2024, on the stage of the Romanian National Opera in Cluj-Napoca, there will be a performance of a unique contemporary opera show, which talks about the life of the Pata Rât community. It is about Waste Side Story, a hybrid opera, in which established artists of the National Opera from Cluj-Napoca and residents of Pata Rât collaborate.

The libretto brings to the attention of the public both the problems and the dreams of the more than 2000 isolated souls in the most mediatized Roma community in Romania, using the testimonies of the inhabitants as documentary sources.

What does integration still mean for this marginalized community?, What does social responsibility mean for each of us?, What are the consequences of a modern deportation? – these are only a part of the open questions in Waste Side Story – a contemporary opera show at Grand Opera Pata Rât.

The visibility and assimilation of information within Roma communities is essential for the implementation of policies and initiatives that promote inclusion and provide equal opportunities for all community members. Opera has the ability to explore universal themes by involving creators from marginalized communities and can contribute to changing the perception of Roma by highlighting their cultural and artistic richness and countering negative stereotypes. Through opera, strong emotional connections can be created and understanding and empathy can be promoted between different social groups”said Alexandru (Pepe) Fechete, Roma activist, community facilitator.

Communicated as a project during a public event organized in Cluj-Napoca last fall, the show is now in intensive preparations, being a good example of collaboration between civil society, the cultural environment, the public environment. Tickets here:

The libretto of the opera, signed by the actress and screenwriter Mara Căruțașu, was born through the organization of some workshops within the community, in order to conduct which a 36 square meter container was bought, where discussions took place with the residents of Pata-Rât.

The music for the show was composed by two young German composers, Dominik Schuster and Tobias Gröninger, both with significant experience in film and opera music.

The show's director is Dan Vasile, who over the years has staged over thirty theater shows, both classical and contemporary, and the performers will include soloists and instrumentalists from the Romanian National Opera in Cluj-Napoca , as well as representatives of the local Roma community. “At Pata Rât, Cluj's landfill, we are talking about a necropolis of history inscribed on hills of over 17 hectares of waste. We are talking about over 2,000 Cluj citizens thrown in the trash. We're talking about the stories that struggle to continue on this site. One is what remains at the end of the day from one of the most expensive cities in Romania, Cluj, another is about the Roma community that lives there and which is, in a way, what remains after the social make-up is removed. For this community, society sometimes shows recycling tendencies, but never develops a long-term strategy. Waste Side Story is about stories we throw away because it's more convenient that way. And behind every story is, in fact, a life. And every life matters“, the director Dan Vasile testified.

The Waste Side Story opera is a joint project, initiated and organized by the Goethe-Institut, the Alt Art Foundation, the Romanian National Opera in Cluj-Napoca, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, with the support of the Department for Inter-Ethnic Relations within the Government of Romania.

The show is part of the Grand Opera Pata Rât project (, an initiative in the area of ​​socially engaged art that aims at the self-empowerment of marginalized communities from Pata Rât and addressing Pata-Cluj relations through the capacity cultural processes to connect and bring people closer, to generate reflection and dialogue, to create meeting spaces, to mobilize emancipatory social energies.

Pata Rât, an area located seven kilometers from the center of Cluj-Napoca, is the largest ghetto in Europe that is located next to a waste dump. It is a spatially segregated informal urban settlement with multiple deprivations – toxic environment, reduced living space and lack of basic utilities – where over 2000 people live (over 70% Roma), including over 1000 children. In the absence of longitudinal implementation of public desegregation policies, Pata Rât is constantly regenerating.