Lives in the Yiddish Theatre


Maia Morgenstern


M. was born in Bucharest, Romania on 1 May 1962.

The most famous actress from Romania, a symbol of Romanian theatre and film, M. is Jewish, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. M.’s family experienced a great deal of violence during World War II. Her grandfather disappeared after being arrested in his native Transnistria; her father survived Nazi and Stalinist labor camps. M. feels a great deal of pride in being Jewish.

At home, her mathematician parents taught her Jewish history and philosophy; around age fifteen, she became curious about Jewish ritual and started frequenting the Bucharest synagogue.“I fell in love with the sound of the Hebrew language,” said Morgenstern, who will attend services on Yom Kippur.”1

M. studied at the Institute of Theatre and Film “I.L.Caragiale” Bucharest from 1981 until 1985 with professor Dem R

Since 1988, M. has been an actress at the Romanian State Jewish Theatre in Bucharest. Upon the passing in August 2012 of Harry Eliad, general manager of the theatre, M. became the interim manager.


Her roles at the State Jewish Theatre of  Bucharest include:

  • Marcella, in "Ex", by Aldo Nicolaj

  • Lena, in "The Chatelaine", by Lea Goldberg

  • Lola, in "Tonight, Lola Blau" by Georg Kreisler, director Alexandru Dabija

This musical was performed in Yiddish and German, fore more than twelve years. The musical was presented on the great European stages in France, Greece, Hungary, Russia, Belgium, Great Britain and Israel.

  • Sally Bowles, in "Cabaret", by Masteroff, Ebb and Kander, director Andreea Vulpe

  • Portia, in "Shylock" by Arnold Wesker

  • Etti, "Kreutzer Sonata", by Jacob Gordin, performed in Yiddish

  • Kathleen, in "Park Your Car in Harvard Yard", by Israel Horovitz, performed in Romanian

  • Valerie Duran - "Last Tango", by Mario Diament, performed in Romanian

    n 2010, “Last Tango” was part of the celebration of the National Day of Romania in Toronto, Canada

  • Elsa, in "Jocul Regilor", by Pavel Kohout, director Felix Alexa, performed in Romanian

  • Clara Spodek, in “Dental Tragedy” ,director Felix Alexa, by Jean Claude Grumberg

  • Leçon by savoir vivre”, by Jean Claude Grumberg, director Harry Eliad,  performed in Romanian .

    The performance “Lecon by savoir vivre“ was staged through an invitation by the Romanian Embassy in Paris to help celebrate "The Day of Europe" in 2010.

  • Miss Daisy, in “Driving Miss Daisy”, by Alfred Uhry, director Claudiu Goga, performed in Romanian

M. also performed in roles at the National Theatre in Bucharest:

  • Klara Zachanassian - “The Visit” by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, director Alexander Morfov, 2011 

  • Ranevskaia, Liubov Andreevna - "The Cherry Orchard” by Anton Chekhov, director Felix Alexa, 2010

  • Ecaterina cea Mare - "Ecaterina The Great” by George Bernard Shaw, director Cornel Todea, 2008 

  • Dorimene / Lady d‘Or - "The bourgeois gentilom “ after J.B.P. Molière, director Petrică Ionescu, 2006

  • Mama Morton - "Chicago” by Maurine Dallas Watkins, director Ricard Reguant, 2005

  • Papa - "The Passions of The Saint Tommaso d‘Aquino” by Alex Mihai Stoenescu, director Grigore Gonţa, 2005

  • Luiza - "Love” by Lajos Barta, director Grigore Gonţa, 2004

  • Anna Andreevna - "The Government Inspector” by Nicolai Vasilievici Gogol, director Serghei Cerkasski, 2002

  • Aldonza - "Man of La Mancha” by Dale Wasserman, director Ion Cojar, 2001

  • Marguerite - "The Ladies Of The Camellias” Alexandre Dumas, director Răzvan Mazilu, 2000

  • Titania - "The Park” by Botto Strauss, director Tudor Ţepeneag, 1995

  • Zenocrate - "Tamerlan The Great” by Christopher Marlowe, director Victor Ioan Frunză, 1995

  • Hîrzobeanu - "Patrihoţii”, by Vasile Alecsandri, director Mihai Manolescu, 1990

  • Haya - "Ghetto” by  Joshua Sobol, director  Victor Ioan Frunză, 1993

  • Miss Iulia - "Miss Julie” by August Strindberg, director Ştefan Iordănescu, 1992

  • "Cruciada copiilor” by Lucian Blaga, director Laurian Oniga, 1991

  • Varia - "The Cherry Orchard” by A.P. Chekov, director Andrei Şerban, 1992

  • Viola - "Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare, director Andrei Şerban, 1991

  • Liz Morden - "Who Needs Theatre?”, by Timberlake Wertenbaker, director Andrei Şerban, 1991

  • "The Audition”, director Andrei Şerban, 1990

  • Medea - "The Antique Trilogy” after Euripides and Seneca, director Andrei Şerban, 1990

M. also acted at the Metropolis Theatre in Bucharest:

  • “Love Stories” by Radu F. Alexandru, director Claudiu Goga, 2011

  • Companya D‘AYA ( on the tearrace "La Motoare”)

  • Maitreyi at 60 years old - “Maitreyi” after Mircea Eliade, director Chris Simion, 2011

  • Master of Ceremonies - "They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” by Horace McCoy, director Chris Simion, 2007

Theatre Radu Stanca, Sibiu

Arkadina - "The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov, director Andrei Şerban, 2007

M. also performed in Athens, Greece, in the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron):

All female characters - "Lysistrata” by Aristophan, director Michael Cacoyannis, 2005

Cultural Olympics, Athens, 2002

Electra - "Electra” by Sophocles,  director Yiannis Margaritis

Theatre Luni - Company Open Theatre

  • "Chantan au Lait” after Mircea Dinescu

  • Chiriţa - "Chiriţa în voiaj” after  Vasile Alecsandri

National Theatre Craiova

Clitemnestra - "Orestia” after Sophocle, director Silviu Purcărete

Theatrum Mundi

Crazy Woman - "Teatru descompusby Matei Vişniec, director Cătălina Buzoianu

Theatre Lucia Sturdza Bulandra

  • Step Daughter - "Six Characters in Search of an Author” by Luigi Pirandello, director Liviu Ciulei

  • Turandot - "Turandot”, by Carlo Gozzi, director Cătălina Buzoianu

  • Miss T - "The Bed of Procust”, after Camil Petrescu, director Cătălina Buzoianu

  • "Everything in the garden”, by Edward Albee, director Tudor Mărăscu

Theatre Odeon

  • Isadora Duncan - “When She Danced” by Martin Sherman, director Răzvan Mazilu, 2012

  • "Saragosa - 66 days”, director Alexandru Dabija

  • Lola Lola - "Der Blaue Engelafter Heinrich Mann, director Răzvan Mazilu

Theatre of Youth Piatra Neamţ: (1985 – 1988)

  • Ioana - "These Sad Angels” by Dumitru Radu Popescu

  • Tofana - "Red Passion” by Mihail Sorbul

  • Lucietta - "The Piazzeta“ by Carlo Goldoni, director Silviu Purcărete

  • Gwendolen Fairfax - "Good Evening, Mr.Wilde”, musical by Henry Mălineanu after George Bernard Shaw, director Nicolae Caranfil

Palatul Naţional al Copiilor: 2009  “A Stormy Night”, by I.L.Caragiale

M. also acted in the following films:

  • Eszter Somos - "The House of terror”, director Peter Engert, 2008

  • Herman’s Mother  - "The Fence”, director Philip Saville, 2007

  • Mrs Mansfeld - "Mansfeld”, director Andor Szilaghiy, 2006

  • Margo’s Mother - "Margo”, director Ioan Cărmăzan, 2006

  • Ada’s Mother - "Poisoned Dreams”, director Ana Mărgineanu, 2006

  • Irene - "15”, director Sergiu Nicolaescu, 2005

  • Bonne de Bois by Rose - "L‘Homme presse”, regia Sebastien Grall, 2005

  • Amalia Frunzetti - "Orient Express”, regia Sergiu Nicolaescu, 2004

  • Alexandra - "Damen Tango”, director Dinu Tănase, 2004

  • Mary - "The Passions of The Christ”, director Mel Gibson, 2004

  • Gina - "Bolondok eneke”, director Csaba Bereczki, 2003

  • Olga - "A rozsa enekei”, director Andor Szilaghiy, 2003

  • Miss T - "The Bed of Procust”, director Sergiu Prodan, Viorica Mesina, 2001

  • Woman at Fountain - "The Prince of The Drkness. Dracula’s True Story”, film TV, director Joe Chapelle, 2000

  • Nonna - "Marie, Nonna, la Vierge et moi”, director Francis Renaud, 2000

  • Irma - "Kinai vedelem”, director Gabor Tompa, 1999

  • "Face to face”, director Marius Teodor Barna, 1999

  • Queen Mary - "Triunghiul morţii”, director Sergiu Nicolaescu, 1999

  • "Omul zilei”, director Dan Piţa, 1997

  • Mama băieţilor Witman - "The Wittman Boys”, director Janos Szasz, 1997

  • Edith Stein - "The Seventh Room”, director Martha Meszaros, 1995

  • Ulysse’s Wife - "Ulysse’s Gaze”, director Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1995

  • Helen - "Nostradamus”, director Roger Christian, 1994

  • The Prisoner - "Trahir”, director Radu Mihăileanu, 1993

  • "Casa din vis”, director Ioan Cărmăzan, 1993

  • "The Most Beloved Earthling”, director Şerban Marinescu, 1992

  • Nela - "Balanţa”, director Lucian Pintilie, 1993

  • "Rămânerea”, director Laurenţiu Damian, 1992

  • "Flăcăul cu o singură bretea”, director Iulian Mihu, 1990

  • "The Ones  who pay with their lives”, director Şerban Marinescu, 1988

  • Mary - "Mary and the Sea”, director Mircea Mureşan, 1988

  • "The season of love”, director Iulian Mihu, 1985

  • "Justice in chains”, director Dan Piţa, 1983

  • "Too hot for May”, director Maria Callas Dinescu, 1983

  • “Orient Express”, director Sergiu Nicolaescu

  • “Iubire Elena”, director Geo Saizescu

M. also acted on television:

"The Impossible Marriage”, serial TV, director Silviu Jicman, 2004

"The beautiful crazies form great cities” – The National Theatre of Television.

Prizes and distinctions:

  • Prize for the Best Actress at Festival Emma, London, 2004, for the role of Mother Mary  in film "
    The Passions of Christ”

  • The European Parliament  of Strasbourg designated her in February 2004, The Actress and The Woman of the Year 2003

  • Member in the juries of the festivals of Geneva 1995, Salonic 1996, Angers 1998, Monte Carlo 2000

  • Prize Irina Răchiţeanu Sirianu for "The Ladies of The Camellias”, 1997

  • Prize UNITER for  "Lola Blau”, 1995

  • Prize Felix, the actress of the year 1993,  "Balanţa”

  • Prize Theatre vivant 1993 al Radio France International fir the best performance  in French “ Teatru descompus”

  • Prize Les stars dedemain - Geneva, 1992, for The Best Actress and  The Prize of Critics for  "

  • Prize AUR The Association of Romanian Humorists1992,for "Balanţa”

  • Prize of FLACĂRA magazine for "Cruciada copiilor”

  • The National Prize L.S. Bulandra for the best actress   of the  year 1993 Haya, "Ghetto”

  • The Prize  UCIN 1990  for "The ones who pay with their lives”

  • The National Prize Lucia Sturdza Bulandra  for the best actress of 1990, for Medeea "The Antique Trilogy”

  • Prize  UNITER  for the best feminine role 1990 - Medeea - "The Antique Trilogy”

  • Prize Silver Bear at Berlin Film Festival 1993  for the role in the film « Balanţa»

Critics about Mrs. Maia Morgenstern’s  performances:

“Leçon de savoir vivre” offered to Maia Morgenstern another kind of  one-woman-show than the one where she glittered, at State Jewish Theatre, too, with more than a decade ago "Tonight, Lola Blau!”. In Lola’s Blau, world was space for exuberance, music, love –even I all were destroyed by the cataclysm of WW II(..) In “Leçon de savoir vivre”, Maia satirizes her character, making a parody about it until grotesque and destruction. Maia acts with all her talent, appreciate by the audience all over the world:  impetuosity, irony, force of conviction; the exceptional gift of improvisation, long polished by her  experience.(…) In the end of performance, Maia "steps beyond her role for being herself:  grave, lucid, revolved by the great contemporary problems brought in foreground  by the XXI century, which started on 11 September“ (by Iulia Deleanu-The Jewish Reality,2009 )

“Maia Morgenstern  makes in Miss  Daisy a tour de force , a remarkable complex creation, performed with conviction and attention to every detail. The kaleidoscope of  her moods and reactions is ample: at the beginning, proving the tenacious force, the obstinacy of the widow, the suspicion for the honesty of “the black people”  Then, she is proud for her accomplishments as a teacher. Maia passes monumentally from the  sober, gentlewoman and elegant lady to the old woman with reluctant, difficult gestures and at the performance of senility and total decrepitude. (who breaks your heart and twists you)” (by Natalia Stancu about Driving Miss Daisy, The Jewish Reality, 2009).

“The performance is an exceptionally electrifying tour de force for Maia Morgenstern” (by Dan Boicea –about “The Last Tango” –Adevărul literar şi artistic ,2010)

"La Morgenstern“, as Italians would call her, plays a role  that suits her perfectly,  as temper and style, a role at the limit of realistic drama and black farce.” (by Alice Georgescu about “ Dental Tragedy” – Dilema Veche, 2010)

“Maia Morgenstern (…) creates complex character, caught  in a  whirl of contradictory  feelings and paradoxical conclusions.” (by Anca Ioniţă Time Out , 2011)


Mrs. Maia Morgenstern‘s interviews appeared in the book “CIOBIT’, written by Oana C. Popescu. The book is more than a collection of interviews about a great actress, more than confessions about memories, life, stage, attitudes and convictions of an intelligent, serious woman, interested in social and civic issues. Maia Morgenstern is a thinker a communicative human being, passionate, sensible, and interested in knowledge. A cheerful human being, a distinguished woman, mother and actress, in love with her  religion - Jewish – but respecting and being deeply attached to Romanian elements. She is a modest artist, aware of her value, with her moral principles : moral beauty and humor.

M. has a son who is an actor, Tudor Aaron Istodor, who was born on 24 May 1984. He graduated from the University of Theatre and Film “I. L. Caragiale”, professor Ion Cojar.  M. and her son performed together in “Last Tango” by Mario Diament and “Dental Tragedy” by Jean Claude Grumberg, at State Jewish Theatre. They also performed together in “Mrs. Warren’s Profession”, by George Bernard Shaw at Teatrul Mic. 


Maia Morgenstern in "Tonight, Lola Blau"

1 From

Sh. E. and Sh. E. from Edith Negulici.






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