Boris Spasov will conduct the classical ballets “La sylphide” and “Coppélia”
02 Apr 2015

Boris Spasov will conduct the classical ballets “La sylphide” and “Coppélia”

On 17 and on 19 April at 19 h the Sofia Opera will present the famous ballet “La sylphide” by Løvenskiold, and on 26 April at 16 h and on 29 April at 19 h – the unrivalled up to our days ballet “Coppélia” by Delibes. Both spectacles will conduct the well-known Maestro Boris Spasov.

LA SYLPHIDE – Ballet by Herman Løvenskiold

17.04.2015 19:00

Participants: Marta Petkova, Tsetso Ivanov, Kalina Kalcheva, Ivanka Kasabova, Georgi Asparuhov


19.04.2015 19:00

Participants: Vesa Tonova, Emil Yordanov, Kalina Kalcheva, Ivanka Kasabova, Nikola Arnaudov


About “La sylphide”

The spectacle “La sylphide” tells the spectators the fascinating fairy-tale about fairies and love. On the eve of his wedding with Effie, the young man James falls in love with the ethereal fairy Sylphide. He cannot chase her away from his thoughts and pursues her constantly. One day he follows her in the Magic wood, puts the magic scarf on her shoulders and she dies. And Effie marries another man.

The different in “La sylphide” from other similar plots is the incredible vision and play of light and shadow. They speak much more than the movements themselves. The complex steps of the ballet dancers are known only to the people, who deal with choreography. In contrast to them, the mass spectators don’t follow whether the posture of the dancers is perfect, but they simply enjoy the spectacle.

With almost cinematographic scope “La sylphide” transports the audience now among the pretty little houses of the Scottish village, now into the blue-green twilight of the Magic wood, where roam fairies and witches.

We have seen also before spectacles with elaborated scenography and costumes. They, however, were only a background and appendage to the beautiful movements of the ballet dancers. And in “La sylphide” the sets are completely independent. Their story is not less fascinating than the story about the beautiful sylph.

The choreographer Dinna Bjørn makes at the Sofia Opera the second production of the legendary ballet, created in 1836 after Løvenskiold’s music.

“La sylphide” has always been highly respected in our country – whether because of the fact that it is the oldest surviving ballet, or just because our native audience knows it faintly.

The specific in “La sylphide” are the steps. This is a classical ballet with very big leaps, fast movements of the legs, and the body from the waist upwards is calm.

Maria Ilieva and Yasen Valchanov danced in the first spectacle of “La sylphide” more than 14 years ago.

In the individual performances they were altering with Vesa Tonova, Darina Bedeva-Kaneva, Dilyana Nikiforova, Kaloyan Boyadzhiev, Rosen Kanev and Trifon Mitev.

The oldest surviving ballet

“La sylphide” is the oldest ballet, the choreography of which has survived up to the present. The legendary Danish artist August Bournoville created the dances after Herman Løvenskiold’s music and the libretto by А. Nourrit and F. Taglioni in the distant 1836.

August Bournoville produced ca. 50 ballets. 15 of them have survived in the repertoire of the big Swedish and Danish ballet companies. The best-known of them are: “Naples, or the Fisherman and His Bride”, “La Valkyrie” and “Wedding in Hardanger”.

August Bournoville’s way to the stage passed through the ballet lessons of his own father Antoine Bournoville and those of Auguste Vestris.

The creator of “La sylphide” graduated the school at Grand opéra in Paris in 1826. One season he plaid on the French stage and in 1829 he returned in Copenhagen. There he became soloist and ballet master of the Danish Royal Ballet.

Besides the wonderful ballet productions, Bournoville left after himself also many students, who have been teaching his art for generations.

The choreographer Dinna Bjørn, who set “La sylphide” again in Bulgaria, is among the best modern specialist and teachers of the “Bournoville’s technique”. Since an early age she has been dancing in “La sylphide” and has performed fast all of the parts. Since 1990, Bjørn has been Artistic Director of the Norwegian National Ballet and of the Finish National Ballet. She came for the first time in Bulgaria in 1968 as competitor at the International Ballet Competition in Varna. She won bronze medal and special award for artistry.

Ballet after the music by Léo Delibes

26.04.2015 16:00
Participants: Boryana Petrova, Nikola Hadzhitanev, Rosen Kanev

29.04.2015 19:00
Participants: Erina Nishitama, Aleksandar Aleksandrov, Rosen Kanev

Ballet in two acts

Music: Léo Delibes

Libretto: Arthur Saint-Léon and Charles Nuitter upon two stories of Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann


Coppélia – the beginning of Bulgarian ballet

The music of the ballet “Coppélia, or the Girl with the Enamel Eyes” is a work of art of the French composer Léo Delibes (1836–1891). The premiere had great success and was on the stage of Grand opéra in Paris on 25 May 1870. Since this date up to our days “Coppélia” has been invariably present in the repertoire of the ballet companies all over the world.

In our country “Coppélia” was the first complete ballet, produced on the stage of the National Theatre. That is why the date of the premiere, 22 February 1928, is considered to be the birthday in the chronology of the Bulgarian ballet art. The choreography of this first “Coppélia” was created by Anastas Petrov (1899-1978), who performed also the part of Franz. Swanhilde was recreated by Nadya Vinarova and Anna VoroblyovaGeorgi Donev was Coppelius, and Georgi Popangelov – the Mayor.

The sets of the spectacle “Coppélia” from 1928 were made by Aleksandar Milenkov, and the costumes – by Rayna Rakarova-Nikova. Conductor was Todor Hadzhiev.

Who was Anastas Petrov?

Anastas Dachev Petrov was ballet dancer and ballet master, one of the founders of Bulgarian ballet. He worked at the Sofia Opera from 1927 to 1961. His production of “Coppélia” was the first complete professionally elaborated work of art. In 1927, the Maestro founded a ballet school in Bulgaria, at which he was training many distinguished ballet artists – Lili Beron, Asen Gavrilov, Nina Kiradzhieva, Lyuba Kolchakova and others. He was the first interpreter of the characters of Prince Siegfried in “Swan Lake” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Franz in “Coppélia” by Léo Delibes, the Dragon in “Dragon and Yana” by Hristo Manolov and others. In 1977 he was awarded the Herder Prize.

Anastas Petrov started his training in dance at the school of Evgenia Eduardova in Berlin in 1922. One year later, he became also her assistant and in the same time he started working in the cast of the Staatsoper. In the period 1925-1927 Petrov was among the few chosen by the well-known ballet master Max Terpis, who entrusted him with several productions.

Later the ballet dancer came back in Bulgaria with the desire to find fertile soil for manifestation of his gained experience and acquired knowledge. Not by chance soon after his appointment at the National Theatre in the newspaper “La Bulgarie” was published a note in which was written: “The new ballet master has set to himself the task to develop ballerinas, prepared well enough, in order later to fulfil the distant goal – the presentation of pantomime on the stage of the National Opera... Enemy of the stringency of the schools and the doctrines, Petrov is striving to unite the mastery of Russian classicism with the powerful, live expression of German ballet...”

The expectations of the critique, as well as those of the audience about “Coppélia” were completely satisfied. In “La Bulgarie” were published the first favourable reviews:

“On the stage of the National Opera was produced the pantomime “Coppélia”. To everyone’s surprise the performance was satisfactory, when we know the conditions, under which is developing our ballet art... Mr. Petrov gave very interesting and beautiful dances, his supple body was exceptionally expressive in all of its gestures, leaps and dance figures... Besides that, the eyes of the ballet master were following all the other group dances and solos and everywhere we were seeing his tireless systematic work...”

During the next decades, “Coppélia” was performed many times by our ballet company. The last production, after the choreography by Biser Deyanov, was on the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of Bulgarian ballet in 2008, at the Sofia Opera and Ballet.

On 25 February 2011 the team of the Opera celebrated 40 years artistic career of the master of ballet art Biser Deyanov. For him were dancing his colleagues Vesa Tonova, Aleksandar Aleksandrov, Yasen Valchanov, Marta Petkova. Conductor was the already deceased Tsanko Delibozov.

In February 2011 Biser Deyanov began the rehearsals of “Coppélia” with the ballet company of the Sofia Opera. The choreography was of our well-known ballet dancer. About his work over “Coppélia” Deyanov says: “At the Opera will be performed my production, which wasn’t plaid for two seasons. I am striving in each touch to the choreography to preserve the spirit of the fairy-tale – it has to be not only for little spectators, but also for adults. I am against the modernisation of classical ballets. For me the ballet is not only dance, but also theatre. I am glad that all the dancers from the company of our ballet are also good actors. Léo Delibes’ wonderful music unites successfully the classical dances and the dances, characteristic for the different nationalities. It is as if the composer himself, still at his time, foresaw in a symbolic way the unification of the nations in Europe. The production of “Coppélia”, thanks to our ballet, is a splendid jewel. A jewel, which has to be maintained”.


Boris Spasov is conductor of the Sofia Opera and Ballet. He is a graduate in Orchestra conducting at the State Conservatory (now “Pancho Vladigerov” Academy of Music) in the class of Prof. Vladi Simeonov.

He specialised at Bolshoi Theatre with the world-renowned conductor Mark Ermler.

• He took part in the master class in conducting of Witold Rowicki in Wien.
• From 1980 to 1988 Boris Spasov was conductor of the Ruse State Philharmonic Orchestra.
• Since 1984 he has been guest-conductor at the Sofia Opera and Ballet.
• Since 1988 Boris Spasov has been conductor of the Sofia Opera and Ballet.
• He is lecturer at the “Pancho Vladigerov” Academy of Music and at the New Bulgarian University in Singing with conductor and Opera and symphony conducting.

Boris Spasov conducts on the world and Bulgarian stages an impressing number of spectacles of the famous ballet titles: “Sleeping Beauty”, “Swan Lake”, “The Nutcracker” and “Serenade” (Balanchine) by Tchaikovsky, “La source” by Delibes (Balanchine), “Don Quixote”, “Pâquerette” and “La bayadère” by Minkus, “Giselle” and “Le corsaire” by Adam, “Coppélia” by Delibes, “La sylphide” by Løvenskiold, “Romeo and Juliet” by Prokofiev, “La fille mal gardée” by Hertel, “Notre Dame de Paris” by Maurice Jarre, “Pulcinella”, “Agon” (Balanchine) and “Le Sacre du printemps” by Stravinsky, “Concerto barocco” by Bach (Balanchine), “The Concert” by Chopin, “Scheherazade” by N. Rimsky-Korsakov, “Allegro brillante” by Glinka (Balanchine), “Stepping Stones” by Joan Tower, “Love, the Magician” by de Falla, “The Fire-Dancer” by M. Goleminov, “The Crusaders” by Al. Yosifov, “Improvisation” and “Vardar Rhapsody” by P. Vladigerov, “Les sylphides” (after Chopin’s music) and others.

His opera repertoire includes: “Madama Butterfly”, “La bohème”, “Turandot”, “La fanciulla del West”, “Tosca” and “Gianni Schicchi” by Puccini, “Cavalleria rusticana” by Mascagni, “Aida”, “Don Carlo”, “La traviata”, “Un ballo in maschera” and “Rigoletto” by Verdi, “Il barbiere di Siviglia” by Rossini, “Cosi fan tutte”, “Don Giovanni” and “Die Zauberflöte” (Premiere on the occasion of the composer’s 250th Anniversary) by Mozart, “Carmen” by Bizet, “Don Quichotte” by Massenet, “Khovanshchina” and “Boris Godunov” by Mussorgsky, “Eugene Onegin” and “The Queen of Spades” by Tchaikovsky.