It’s a pity that Lyubomir Pipkov did not live to see this success – Prof. Boyanka Arnaudova,

It’s a pity that Lyubomir Pipkov did not live to see this success – Prof. Boyanka Arnaudova, Photo: Svetoslav Nikolov/Sofia Opera

The season’s beginning at the Sofia Opera – an exciting event, not interesting for the Bulgarian media. It is insulting that for the tour of the Opera in Japan was written only around the workers, who have drawn graffiti

“Yana’s Nine Brothers”, a staging by Plamen Kartaloff, influences with its detailed reading and presentation of the tragical situations, with carefully used effects and the many metaphors and visualized mythologems.


Проф. Боянка АРНАУДОВА

Prof. Boyanka Arnaudova


It was a feast, there were many, many applauses, which rewarded all participants in the spectacle “Yana’s Nine Brothers” by Lyubomir Pipkov, with which the National Opera opened on 27 October season 2018/19. We felt that emotional current, which flows out from the stage and makes hush the hall, unites the spectators in the unique collective experience of а fatal passion, told with music. We experienced the feeling, which is a sign for the performers, as well as for all others, who realized the spectacle that they have achieved success.

In our country – at that often – this happens in the theatre, as well as in the concert and cinema hall – but yet very rarely one can read, hear and see in the media about similar valuable events. They remain mainly in the memories of the attending people. This is why I will share again my anxiety from the fact that already decades in succession the critique, the reviewers are marginalia, replaced by information, PR apologetics, announces or gathered in a hurry story retolds and opinions by specialists. The journalists are running in the couloirs of our governmental institutions, don’t miss accidents and murders, but they don’t step in the halls, where art is being made …

But what I mean is to support a regular professional evaluation of the music events, which fly away and are quickly forgotten (of course, life continues), however without the written words to remain – good or bad, which is in reality the durably recorded moment from the chronicle of the Bulgarian culture. Even interviews with great personalities of art are rarity and a result of the experience and erudition of few journalists. It is such a pity! Because – still from now on, trying to inform myself about the quality, the reception, in short – searching for some specialized review for a music fact from 15 years ago for example, I find out blank fields, especially about the events, which happened (I mean in the field of the music and stage practice) outside Sofia. Only information, but not also an estimation or at least a description of the music event.

The most recent example for this obsession of the media by the curious or the negative was the way how was multiplicated one banal incident with two workers from the Opera, who showed once more that the ignorance we are cultivating inside of us, and then we export and demonstrate it. Still since the time of Aleko. The ridiculous is that today we are just and only amazed that it is still present – at that in a large format. And whether we think of seriously why it exists, how it is being tolerated or how to reduce it? A big problem.

Today for example, I saw a newly painted building in the centre of Sofia, which in the night has been horribly defiled – scratched/variegated; these are no graffiti, this is not a street art. Well, the neighbourhood was outraged at it, but only that much. How and where to find the “artists”, there are no cameras …? And now the ugliness will appear constantly before our eyes. But with certainty there are ways to censor, sanction other cases, other transformations of lack of culture, ill-breeding and so on.

Well, I am thinking, actually I am convinced that the media had to use their energy and influence to inform us about the guest-performances of the Opera in Japan, which is not a banal fact, nor it happened in some deep European province. And the seventh in succession tour of the National Opera is not at all uninteresting or insignificant event, in order not to deserve attention. These are two productions – “Carmen” and “Turandot”, presented 11 (!) times in halls with 2 thousand seats, besides in Tokyo (three spectacles), in 8 more other cities. I have attended many, really many times spectacles of the Sofia Opera abroad – in big theatres, on prestigious stages and at prestigious festivals and I know what experience it is for the performers – the ovations at the end, the crowded for congratulations and autographs admirers; what satisfaction brings not only the reception by the audience, but also the estimation of the critique. What I mean is the music critique of the biggest European newspapers and musical editions. Half of a month in Japan was written about and commented our art, admired were Bulgarian performers, who almost every day were travelling and singing, acting, playing at full throttle. And here there was a rush to impose on us the action of those simple-minded guys … And only recently – here and there, appeared something small about the tour. As if this is an inconsiderable, small event. It is offending – for our wonderful talented singers, as well as for the orchestra and the chorus, for all, who showed in Japan the music culture of Bulgaria. However, here we already long since know how much music, art is cherished there. It is insulting that instead of popularizing one significant event, we are “hiding” it – like a golden elder sis under the trough (from the popular folk tale).

I admit my partialities for Lyubomir Pipkov’s opera opuses. And as far as I know him personally too, and a significant part of the music, created by him, I consider that “Yana’s Nine Brothers” is a magnificent, emblematic work and a proof for the modernity and originality of the Bulgarian music school. It is known what kind of polemics it evoked in both of his former realizations at the Sofia Opera. With its third production (March 2018) was set the brilliant start of the guest-performance of the National Opera and Ballet in May this year at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

Photo: Svetoslav Nikolov/Sofia Opera

The virgin dramaturgical reading and the very pronounced visual aspect of Plamen Kartaloff’s director’s production, designers – Sven Jonke and Stanka Vauda, are organically connected with the libretto, as well as with the scores and with Pipkov’s concept. In front of the spectator is being developed in unceasing dynamics an impressively large scale and moving spectacle, keeping till the end the attention and the grade of emotions.

Kartaloff’s “Yana’s Nine Brothers” exerts an influence with a detailed reading and presentation of the tragical situations, with carefully used effects and the many metaphors and visualized mythologems, like the tree-connection of Earth – Cosmos, the eternity – whirling, the fluid and alternating its colours multifunctional terrain, etc. The suggestion of collapsing of the home, of the sinking, the ruin of one family and one people is very strongly exhibited in the last act. I know also the previous, significant and strong, Ruse production by Plamen Kartaloff, but now is visible a very rife upgrade and insight into the deep levels of the text and the music, a convincing deduction and revealing of the mythologems.

Photo: Svetoslav Nikolov/Sofia Opera

And if among the singers there were no surprises – known and talented, the conductor Zhorzh Dimitrov deserves special attention. Long since at the Opera has not appeared a young conductor with such a bright manifestation, with so impressively interpreted very difficult scores. And it does not go just for a sovereign mastering of their components, but for a recreation and inspired suggestion of the set in the note text ideas, characters, for its dramaturgical development, in which the thematic and all structural music elements – especially the metrics and rhythmic, are specifically bound in one multilayer and large scale composition, which orchestra and conductor realized at a level, deserving admirations.

Here we must notice the excellent presentation of the chorus and of all artists, among which outlined Petar Buchkov (Georgi the Ugly), Gergana Rusekova (the Gipsy), Lilia Kehayova (Yana), Rumyana Petrovа (the Mother) and Kostadin Andreev (Angel). Each one of them has input gift, work, mastery and passion into his or her personage, in order to suggest a hard drama from Bulgarian, but also form universal type. Naturally, not by all and not everything was sunny and cloudless. But we have to note that the spectacle is an example of a real ensemble opera theatre, in which there is a hit in each role. I will mention more the seven brothers: А. Antonov, E. Pavlov, К. Dushkov, R. Nenchev, V. Vatev, N. Voynov, also the Bear-trainer – Veselin Mihaylov, the three Wood-carvers – D. Ostretsov, Tsv. Tsvetkov and A. Mladenov, the successes of the singers in many other episodic personages. All of them long applauded by the audience, inspired from the work, as well as by the various emotional experiences this evening.

Photo: Svetoslav Nikolov/Sofia Opera

What a pity that Lyubomir Pipkov did not attend this indisputable success of his most defamed and disputed opus. “Yana’s Nine Brothers” – a youth glorious outburst, a child of a gathered experience and knowledge in Paris and at École Normale by the famous Paul Dukas, but also of the fantasy and the rich imagination of one great Bulgarian talent.

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