For many years, Richard Wagner's work was almost unknown - with few exceptions - to the Bulgarian opera tradition. And it was built for years mostly on an Italian, Russian, partly French basis. In this spirit, I was also brought up in our state Conservatory under the skilful training of our distinguished singing personalities.
The beginning of my creative development was entirely connected with Italian and Russian repertoire. The mastered bel canto was everywhere recognized and appreciated, and so the moment came when Herbert von Karajan spontaneously decided that this was the voice he was looking for for the so-called “Italian Wagner” for his upcoming new premiere of “Lohengrin” – opening of the Easter Festival in Salzburg in 1976.
This was my “baptism of fire” with Wagner! Recognition and success were great. For me, an absolutely new world, by which I was very captivated in a short time! The other “Italian Wagner” – “Tannhäuser” – Elisabeth followed – and so in the following years these two Wagner parts of mine toured all the world's greatest theatres. Personally, I was fascinated by the depth, by the symbolic, dual world in the search for truth through mysticism in the musical expression with the sensations of the great genius! Faced with his high, almost extraordinarily high demands, I was happy to have the opportunity to craft and interpret these characters under the baton and direction of distinguished great Wagner connoisseurs.
However, in the interest of preserving the rest of my repertoire, featuring the varied and completely contrasting palette of Verdi, Puccini, Richard Strauss (who is a complete contrast to Wagner), as well as my beloved Mozart – I decided to stay true to the “Italian Wagner”, but to limit his other soprano parts.
I allow myself to share that with this extensive repertoire, sung all over the world, I was proud and happy as a Bulgarian to be a recognized performer for both Richard Strauss and Wagner. This opened up new areas for my personal creative development, for which I was proud and grateful in my own way!
“The Ring of the Nibelung” is a huge challenge for any (however big) theatre! The tradition of the Sofia Opera was great, but it was not connected with Wagner. The decision made 12 years ago to present “The Ring” on the Sofia stage was a challenge for everyone – including the audience, which, however, was already hungry for new paths in the Opera's repertoire. So, the management of the theatre in the person of Mr. Kartaloff took on the huge and responsible task of organizing a solid professional training of singers, orchestra, chorus and all other participants in the interest of the productions of “The Ring” being at a high professional international level.
For this purpose, a decisive role played the engagement of the great Wagnerian expert and long-time personal assistant of Maestro Wolfgang Sawallisch – Prof. Richard Trimborn, who undertook all the preparation – singing, textual, stylistic – fully meeting Wagner's requirements. He combined all this with the stage ideas and inspiration of director Plamen Kartaloff.
Under this skillful guidance and professional control, our gifted singers with beautiful voices were introduced to a new world (unknown to them until now) at a very high level and were ready to present it to the audience, who were also participants in this phenomenal process and were grateful and happy!
Personally, knowing full well what they are up against, I admire our wonderful, talented singers who did a brilliant job with the big tasks! The enormous work was richly rewarded! The success was brilliant and Wagner's music firmly set foot on the stage of the Sofia National Opera. The Bulgarian “Ring of the Nibelung” received high recognition and appreciation around the world, including in Germany – in the historic Füssen, closely related to Wagner's work.
As is known, since then on the stage of the Sofia Opera, Wagner has been established over the years with a series of other notable operas of his – also with great success! By carrying out this incredibly large task through “The Ring” and the rest of Wagner's productions, the Sofia Opera was launched to a new level – on a high international level!
Meanwhile, all over the world, many things in life as well as the stage requirements of theatres have changed and moved to another level. In the name of this, the director Plamen Kartaloff took on the task of “The Ring” being fundamentally revised and staged on a completely new basis, meeting modern requirements.
All this within the framework of the upcoming Summer Festival – something that again requires a huge amount of preparation! A big task for everyone – singers, orchestra, chorus, technicians – for all participants! Good luck to all!!
With a thought – especially to my beloved fellow singers – as well as to all creators and participants – I wish first of all health and strength! May Wagner's inspiration never leave them, and with their gaze fixed forward, may they confidently follow the light of his path!
To all the participants and in the name of the realization of a new stage performance and direction full of energy and light – “Good luck” – for the satisfaction and charge of a happy audience! For a great success of the festival – with the hope that the sky (no rain!) would be kind too!
Close to all of you –