Real fortunate people turned out to be the loyal spectators of the Sofia Opera and Ballet, who managed to provide themselves with tickets for both New Year spectacles of our first opera theatre on 30 and 31 December 2018. With a small difference in the programme during both evenings, the audience enthusiastically appreciated the 16 opera and ballet performances in the first part of the concert and the 13 items – in the second part.

Deliberately the programme of both spectacles was not announced in advance, which ensured a noble surprise for the audience, which filled in the big hall till the last seat. As a wonderful tradition we could indicate the short videoclip, projected at the opening of the concert, in which were presented all premieres and significant events of the Sofia Opera and Ballet on Sofia stage, as well as by the remarkable guest-performances in 2018 in Italy, Poland, Japan, Moscow –Bolshoi Theatre, together with the spectacles on the open stages among the Belogradchik Rocks and the Park of the G. S. Rakovski Military Academy in Sofia. The orchestra of the Opera sound-tracked solemnly this moving filmed history with the performance of the overture “La gazza ladra” by Gioachino Rossini.

It is difficult to describe the richness of the artistic palette of opera and ballet performances, created after Maestro Plamen Kartaloff’s concept and realized under the direction of the Deputy Director “Productions” Vera Petrova.

Conductor of the Gala concert was Erich Wächter.

Inflaming effect had still the first performance from the very rich programme of this New Year concert! The beauty of the choreography and the magical set design as if right away enchanted the spectators by the performance of “Dance of the Hours” from “La Gioconda” by А. Ponchielli with soloists Katerina Petrova and Emil Yordanov and the theatre’s ballet.

The aria of Princess Eboli from “Don Carlo” by G. Verdi was again filigreely performed by the young Aleksandrina Stoyanova, accompanied masterly by the ladies’ chorus. Nikola Mijalović and Hrisimir Damyanov raised still more the good mood with “Toast” from the opera “Otello” /G. Verdi/, and after them followed the emotional performances of the marvellous Kamen Chanev and Tanya Ivanova with the duet of Otello and Desdemona – “Gia nella note densa”.

Long time won’t be forgotten the inspired performances of the soloists, included in the programme. Martin Iliev reminded us of the magical element in Siegmund’s aria from R. Wagner’s opera “Die Walküre”. Eva Jeong – a scholarship winner of the Raina Kabaivanska Fund, appeared as a real discovery with her amazing performance of Norina’s aria from “Don Pasquale” /G. Donizetti/, as well as in the duets with Jeonghyeok Seo /Korea/ – Norina and Pasquale, and with Nikola Mijalović – Don Giovanni and Zerlina from “Don Giovanni” by W.A. Mozart.

Gabriela Georgieva inflamed again the audience with her performance of “Toast” from the opera “Lady Macbeth” /G. Verdi/. Kamen Chanev deserved the next enthusiastic applauses with Andrea Chénier’s aria from the opera of the same name by Umberto Giordano. Tanya Ilieva followed him with a top emotional performance of the aria of Cio-Cio-san from the opera “Madama Butterfly” /G. Puccini/.

After them, Silvana Pravcheva and Martin Iliev performed brilliantly the duet of Venus and Tannhäuser from R. Wagner’s opera “Tannhäuser”. And a little bit later, the opera stage was conquered by the ballet and its soloists Marta Petkova, Nikola Hadjitanev and Georgi Asparuhov, who presented movingly the mettle of “Walpurgis Night” from “Faust” /Ch. Gounod/.

As a finale of the first part of the festive concert was “Si ridesta” from “La traviata” /G. Verdi/, performed by the chorus of the Opera.

The second part of the New Year spectacle began with “Larina’s Ball” /“Well, what a surprise”/ from the opera “Eugene Onegin” by P.I. Tchaikovsky. After this conquering performance of the chorus, Tsvetana Bandalovska embodied herself excellently into Vitellia, performing the aria “Deh, se piacer mi vuoi” from the opera „La clemenza di Tito” /W.A. Mozart/. Lilia Kehayova with unprecedented charm presented herself with Donna Elvira’s aria from the opera “Don Giovanni” /W.A. Mozart/.

Like unforgettable masterpiece in the New Year programme this time was the performance of Gergana Rusekova in the role of Clara from “Porgy and Bess” /G. Gershwin”/, accompanied by the trumpeter Yan Dunev. After them sounded our favourite “Rhapsody in Blue” with the virtuoso performance on the piano by Yolanta Smolyanova and the velvet sound from Boris Borisov’s clarinet. The wonderful music was visualized by the perfect choreography of the soloists and the ensemble of the ballet of the Opera.

A sublime moment in the festive concert was the performance of the three great tenors Martin Iliev, Hrisimir Damyanov and Rosen Nenchev, who presented the aria of Sou-Chong – “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” from “Das Land des Lächelns” /Fr. Lehár/. And when the orchestra performed “Light Cavalry” by Franz von Suppé, the audience didn’t contain itself and beat timed with applauses the conquering overture.

At the final of the New Year concert on 31 December, as an apotheosis of the festive mood were the most sublime performances from the musical “Mamma Mia!” by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, under the direction of Maestro Plamen Kartaloff. The soloists Vesela Delcheva, Lyudmila Kozareva, Silvana Pravcheva, Denitsa Shopova, Vladi Mihaylov, Radoslav Vladimirov, Nikolay Pavlov. Aleksandar Georgiev and Boyan Arsov and ensemble made the hall explode for the next time in succession with their inspired art! The musical “Mamma Mia!” recently celebrated its jubilee – the 25th spectacle in front of an audience of 20 000 spectators.

The audience of the Gala concert gave endless standing ovations to its favourites from the Sofia Opera and Ballet and was hospitably welcomed in our first opera theatre with a glass of champagne, dropped from the heights many-coloured balloons and the exceptional attention, paid to the dear guests from the entire team of the Opera.

Good luck to the Sofia Opera and Ballet and to its thankful audience during the New Year 2019!

Pictures by: Светослав Николов

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