This was the premiere of “Elektra” by Richard Strauss last night on the stage of the Sofia Opera.
The first performance of Strauss’s modernist work brought great success to all participants in this incredible production – created during a pandemic, this production will be remembered for a long time. The difficult conditions marked the whole rehearsal period, the premiere was postponed twice. But last night, in extremely strict compliance with the anti-epidemic measures, the audience attended a historic event – the first performance of “Elektra” in Bulgaria, entirely with Bulgarian soloists. Brilliant Lilia Kehayova, Tsvetana Bandalovska and Gergana Rusekova in the three main female characters of Elektra, Chrysotemis and Klytaemnestra, perfect Atanas Mladenov and Emil Pavlov as Orestes and Aegisth, magnificent stage presence of the five maids (Violeta Radomirska, Alexandrina Andreeva, Ina Petrova, Silvia Teneva, Rumyana Petrova). And more – Silvana Pravcheva and Stanislava Momekova, Angel Hristov, Bayasgalan Dashnyam, Angel Antonov and Dimitar Stanchev.
The Sofia Opera Orchestra under the direction of Evan-Alexis Christ showed an extremely high level of playing. Led by the temperamental maestro and concertmaster Lyudmil Nenchev, the musicians performed the difficult score with charming nuances, colours and dynamics. Fantastic playing of the strings, as well as of all wind and percussion sections!
Once again the production team was international. The director Plamen Kartaloff makes an almost film version of Strauss's opera, enriched with the innovative scenography of Sven Jonke, the costumes of Leo Kulaš and the choreography of Fredy Franzutti. Andrej Hajdinjak’s artistic lighting complemented the director’s concept and connected all the elements of the performance in an exquisite line. The images in the production are created with clean, but very dramatic, movements on the stage and with elements of dance. The characters are revealed in the course of the action, which kept the audience in suspense almost all the time. The details, the symbols, the work with the text – everything was neat to the limit. We do not forget to mention the invaluable work of the assistant director Vera Petrova and the corepetiteur Yolanta Smolyanova, assisted by her colleague Richard Wildes from the Bavarian Opera in Munich, as well as the precision of all technical services.
“Elektra” on the Sofia stage represents Plamen Kartaloff’s vision for the development of the Sofia Opera from now on and for the inclusion of the audience in a more non-traditional opera repertoire. And although the first performance of “Elektra” was born during a pandemic and high trials of the spirit, with this production the Sofia Opera joins the most prestigious opera houses in the world, which have in their repertoire the modernist work of Richard Strauss.
The premiere was attended by the Vice President of Bulgaria Iliana Yotova, the German music critic Klaus Billand, many guests from abroad. Congratulatory addresses and flowers to the participants in the performance and the production team were sent by the President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev and his wife, the Minister of Culture Boil Banov, the Mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova, the State Musical Theatre, State Opera – Varna, State Opera – Plovdiv, Sinfonietta Vidin, Belogradchik Municipality and Kaolin EAD.
After the performance, Prof. Kartaloff called on the audience and the artists to pay their last respects to the great Bulgarian tenor Kamen Chanev, who lost the battle with COVID-19.
A premiere during a pandemic! A premiere, prepared with tireless work to bring joy to people and show them the beauty of art. A premiere – celebration of the spirit!
Welcome to our stage, “Elektra”! Congratulations to everyone!