"Coppćlia" was the first independent ballet staged on the stage of the Opera and the date 22 February 1928 is considered the birth date of the Bulgarian ballet art.
The production was choreographed by Anastas Petrov, the set design – by Alexander Milenkov and the costumes – by Raina Rakarova. Conductor was Todor Hadjiev.
Nadia Vinarova, Anastas Petrov, Georgi Donchev, Georgi Popangelov played at the premiere.
The success was so great that by the end of the season "Coppćlia" was performed 21 times!
The expectations of both critics and audience for "Coppćlia" are fully met. The first flattering reviews appear in "La Bulgarie":
"The pantomime "Coppćlia" was performed on the stage of the National Opera. The performance for general astonishment was satisfactory, knowing the conditions under which our ballet art develops... Mr. Petrov gave very interesting and beautiful dances, his flexible body was extremely expressive in all his gestures, leaps and dance figures... Apart from this, the ballet master's eye followed all the other group dances and solos, and we saw everywhere his tireless, systematic work..."
Anastas Petrov danced from an early age, but was introduced to ballet in 1920 as a student at the Varna Boys' Gymnasium, when he attended concerts by the Russian emigrant from Belarus ballerina Maria Yurieva. In 1922, Petrov went to Berlin, where he studied classical dance at the school of Evgenia Eduardova, a ballerina from the Mariinsky Theatre. From 1925 to 1927 he danced at Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Anastas Petrov with students (Lili Beron)
After his return to Bulgaria, he became a soloist and ballet master at the Sofia Opera from 1927, where he remained until 1961. During this period, he choreographed dances in more than 90 operas and created 16 solo ballet productions – some of which remain as models in the history of Bulgarian dance theatre. He was also engaged in pedagogical activity. Only a month after his arrival at the Opera, he founded the first professional ballet school in Bulgaria, where he trained many prominent Bulgarian ballet dancers – Lili Beron, Asen Gavrilov, Nina Kiradzhieva, Asen Manolov, Lyuba Kolchakova, as well as Nedelcho Izov, Krum Yankov, Evgeni Zadneprovski. Kalina Bogoeva, Ichko Lazarov, Konstantin Damyanov, Margarita Trayanova, Krasimira Koldamova, Penka Encheva started their training with him. The school existed until 1944. Later he accepted to work at the state ballet school.