Newspaper Politika, Issue 682,
23-29.06.2017, page 36
Acad. Plamen Kartaloff
Wagner makes the artists fly higher
Acad. Kartaloff, soon is upcoming the premiere of the opera “Parsifal” by Wagner. What is the mood of the team during the last rehearsals?
“Who can comprehend with a true sense everything, which happened these two months inside this theatre for the festive spectacles, will explain the expressing itself here productive activity only with the influence of one sacrament, encompassing without any constraint everyone and everything.” With these shared thoughts by Richard Wagner about the atmosphere during the rehearsal preparation of the first premiere of the stage mystery “Parsifal” in Bayreuth I could make a parallel with what happens at the Sofia Opera. Ruling was the power from the striving of everybody for perfection. The inspired work of each artist, member of the orchestra, member of the chorus, stage worker, administration and assistant teams, masters in the ateliers for manufacture of the costumes or the sets, in all musical, stage and technical processes shows the most important – the creation with a striving for a result, sculptured by experienced professionals, in the sixth new Wagner production on the stage of the national opera theatre for the last 7 artistic seasons. This example is really revolutionary one for the art in Bulgaria. What more to prove and show that the Bulgarian national opera theatre has a cause, dedicated to a social-cultural, economic and public benefit?! And here it is, from here the connection with the last opera by Richard Wagner – one really revolutionary work, which gives spiritual strength and beauty. It reminds us that people, if they have mission and inspiration, bestowed by the heavenly protection, will have also the power of Parsifal for holy purification, initiation and salvation. And this is the ability to serve with a pure soul.
Is this what makes this work so special and mysterious?
“Parsifal” is an image of spiritual community, in which the ideas of the brotherhood, the humility, the love for the fellow-man are interweaved with the divine radiation and the spiritual cure. This should be our connection with the spiritual world of the holy mystery “Parsifal” by Wagner, in which the music raises the senses into the boundless temple of the soul of everyone, who can avow oneself in it.
And why according to you the opera was not produced till now in Bulgaria?
Because of the low artistic horizon of taste to the enormous world musical treasury. It is much easier and without risks to follow the beaten track of a banally reproduced repertoire. And our opera performers are artists with exceptional abilities. We see that in the strongest years of their career they have the contribution Wagner to be a trampoline not only for a new tradition at the Sofia Opera, commeasurable with the world one, but also for their personal artistic development, a powerful turbine to fly still higher and with proved qualities to find their place among the most recognized Wagner vocal and stage achievements. Such artists we have at the Sofia Opera: Kostadin Andreev, Martin Iliev, Angel Hristov, Radostina Nikolaeva, Gergana Rusekova, Nikolay Petrov, Biser Georgiev, Atanas Mladenov, Daniel Ostretsov, Krasimir Dinev, Plamen Papazikov and many others.
What is the most characteristic for your work in “Parsifal” as director? Were there curious moments, worthy to enter in the stage history of the work?
The persistence to perfect every detail. Before the performers are set complex tasks. Act II, in which is the castle of the magician Klingsor with the mysterious garden with the seducers – the flowermaidens, is performed on a huge inflatable pillow of 100 m2 and on it takes place the action. This is a non-specific playfield, where the artists swim, dance, play and the main thing: they sing perfectly. All of them manage like real acrobats. Very strong and passionate is the drama in these scenes and we really have something absolutely new for the interpretation of “Parsifal”. Quite a lot new things in the reading of the work will see the connoisseurs Wagnerians in the director’s interpretation. We have worked exceptionally inspired with the set designer Stanka Vauda. We have the ambition for a new production style.
Your spectacles of Wagner’s tetralogy “Der Ring des Nibelungen” turned Sofia into a European capital of the operatic art. Will they become again an attracting force for the cultural tourism in our country?
In Sofia we shall show “Der Ring des Nibelungen” in July 2018. This is the sixth presentation after the guest-performance in Germany. What an artistic audacity it was to show our understanding for the tetralogy with one entirely new stage version of reading and realization namely in the country of the composer! There isn’t any similar analogue foreigners to show the majestic tetralogy in Germany. But not just the German audience with admiration accepted the Bulgarian artists, who sang in faultless German language. There were Wagnerians, specially arrived for our spectacles from America, Australia, England, Norway, South Africa and many other countries. Now we expect many guests from abroad too. But for me the creation of new Wagner admirers in our country is a still more important aim, in order to see ripe the fruits of our efforts for a new opera audience. After Germany and Bulgaria, in May 2018, the Bulgarian “Der Ring des Nibelungen” will be presented on the historical stage of Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
Opera in the square, opera in the park, opera of the peaks, in fortresses, caves, on a barge in the Danube… What spaces you would like to still conquer, Maestro? Is there a place, where according to you the opera cannot enter?
Opera is a democratic art and for it must be discovered new territories and be fascinated more people, even if they are not still tempted for the charm of the inspiration from it. These new spaces for opera theatre outside the halls, which you mentioned, are not chosen by chance. For me as director from a fatal meaning is the right choice of the place and the environment, where will be created my spectacle. And what are the conditions exactly at this place, necessary for creation of the stage action. Most main is the homogenous synthesis between musical dramaturgy and the unusual new place with natural environment of the natural facts. The convincing and logical opening in live of the pages of dramaturgy is a guarantee the spectators to be really involved in the action at an unusual and unexpected place for the opera action, as well as for them themselves. All my productions in an environment outside of the hall are a discovery of new territories for making of opera with hyperbolized visual messages of the music and the text.
Do still haunt fears that the opera was a dying off art or it is the contrary – it attracts always new and new audiences and becomes a modern amusement?
There always haunts the striving of each management for discovering of new audience. Life is so dynamical with the new technologies. This is why there isn’t missing a striving to discover an alternative stage environment, in order to attract always the permanent, as well as a new opera audience. The Sofia Opera does it successfully. But we are not slipping on the easy way. With the unpopular, as well as with the popular titles the requirements to us ourselves are always uncompromising, namely because of this, the audience to receive the best. That way there is never going to be a drop in the interest to the art of the opera theatre.
Still in the beginning of your director’s mandate you declared the individual approach to the spectator for one of your priorities. How do you “woo” him now?
This can be seen very clearly. In the Sofia Opera enters an audience in a widest age range. We work on three stages constantly and indomitably. We are thinking with a long-term march to the audience of the Sofia Opera tomorrow. Well, it’s a pity, when in our territory sometimes rush guest-performing fakes, who don’t have the privilege for fairly done work, who with dignity to show in the capital examples of the great art of the opera.
Opera is an expensive art. How do you manage to create these magnificent, brilliant productions in the conditions of a crisis in almost all spheres in our country?
With a lot, a lot of work, professionalism, responsibility and devotion to the profession.
Acad. Plamen Kartaloff is an eminent opera director. He was born on 15 September 1948 in Dobrich. He is a graduate of the Academy of Music in Sofia, later he specialized opera directing in Germany and cinema directing at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts. He is founder of the artistic initiative “Stage of the Ages” for presentation of grandiose opera spectacles in the open air on the historical Tsarevets Citadel. He is founder of the festivals “Opera in the Square”, “Opera in the Park”, “Opera of the Peaks”, “Fortress of the Ages” and others. For the first time on the Balkans he produced in Sofia Wagner’s great tetralogy “Der Ring des Nibelungen”.