The Sofia Opera and Ballet opened its new 132nd season with the opera "Chatterers" by Lazar Nikolov. The performance is performed on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth. It has been a tradition in recent years to open the new season with a Bulgarian title.
The audience applauded the opera-satire "Chatterers" by Lazar Nikolov – a prominent composer, one of the first avant-gardists in Bulgarian music. "Chatterers" was written in 1971 based on the famous story by Ivan Vazov and until last season it had no stage realization. Now the opera has been resurrected on stage, thanks to Director and stage director of Sofia Opera Acad. Plamen Kartaloff.
The premiere of "Chatterers" took place in March this year. In the spectacle took part includes Atanas Mladenov, Kostadin Andreev, Emil Pavlov, Atanas Yonkov, Nikolay Pavlov, Nikolay Petrov, Veselin Mihaylov, Rada Toteva, Stanislava Momekova, Aleksandrina Stoyanova and others.
In his address to the audience, maestro Kartaloff shared that the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lazar Nikolov obliged him to stage "Chatterers" – a not easy work, but a work with an anticipatory creative approach of both the composer Lazar Nikolov and the author of the lyrics Ivan Vazov.
"Our living relationship with Bulgarian composers speaks of an identity, not only cultural, social and spiritual, but also moral. Bulgarian theatres and audiences should also be part of this magic of our composers – immortal icons in the musical annals of the nation," said the Director of the Sofia Opera.
The rave reviews for the production of "Chatterers" have not stopped. The great film director prof. Lyudmil Staykov says that the spectacle unites all possible arts – sound, image, pantomime, projection, dance – in an indissoluble unity. In his words, "Chatterers" is not a spectacle – it is a phenomenon in Bulgarian cultural life. This performance should be seen by many people because it brings self-confidence about the possibilities, about the talent of Bulgarians in all fields."
"Chatterers" is an amazing spectacle, a brilliant, complete work. Plamen Kartaloff creates an extraordinary theatre of the absurd in the first stage version of "Chatterers" on the Sofia stage. The director skilfully involves strong messages for our times, but does not stray from the spirit of Vazov's work. The singers and the orchestra perform brilliantly and masterfully tell the director's concept.
Among the guests at the opening of the season were the Ambassador of South Korea in Bulgaria Lee Ho-shik and the famous baritone Ivan Konsulov, who was the first performer of the role of Prometheus in Lazar Nikolov's first opera "The Chained Prometheus". Ivan Vazov's fellow citizens from his hometown of Sopot, where the opera will be presented in the coming months, were also dear guests.
"Amazing spectacle! I know almost everyone on stage and I'm glad to hear such fine voices again. Let's first of all appreciate what a tremendous amount of work has gone into this. Those who know the work of Lazar Nikolov can imagine how difficult it is to put this music on stage. That is why during these two days, since I have been in Sofia, my emotion has been great and everything is connected with the great respect I have for this unforgettable composer.
The 100th anniversary of Lazar Nikolov's birth is being honoured in a very worthy way with the realization of "Chatterers" on the Sofia stage. It is a real gesture to open the new season of the Sofia Opera with this Bulgarian title", said the famous opera singer Ivan Konsulov.
"I am very happy that I turned out to be at the Sofia Opera for this exceptional performance. For 30 years I have been working as a ballet dancer and director at the opera house in Tbilisi and as a professional I appreciate very much what I saw at the Sofia Opera. I am amazed by the dynamics of the production, by the director's vision, by the brilliant performance of your unique artists," admired the Georgian opera director Goram Birkadze.
According to the musicologist and professor of music history at State Academy of Music "Prof. Pancho Vladigerov" Ilia Gramatikov the spectacle "Chatterers" overcomes all possible prejudices and in the most convincing way shows the relationship between past and present, as a timelessness, as a universality preserved over the years to show how little we differ from the Bulgarians of old times.
"The original stylistics of maestro Plamen Kartaloff's direction proves exactly this universality of the messages coming from the text of the famous work, as well as from the musical vision of the composer," Gramatikov believes.
The memorable images of colourful characters such as Hadii Smyon, Ivancho Yotata, Ivan Selyamsaz, Mironcho, Varlaam Koprinarkata the Tarilyom, Varlaam's Wife and Selyamsaz's Wife and many others gather all the characteristics of the landed gentry society, in which freedom is so dreamed of by the chatterers, but they find themselves so entangled in their petty life dramas and fears that they have no time or courage to fight for it, so it remains a topic for table talk.
In Plamen Kartaloff's original, prophetic and psychological dramaturgy of "Chatterers", the action is transported from Dzhakovoto café to a luxurious sanatorium amidst beautiful natural scenery, with Vazov's characters placed in an interesting way in a kind of bridge between the past and the present. Instead of wearing yamurluks, the "new" chatterers enjoy soft warm blankets from the modern spa. In this way, the director also remains true to the spirit of Vazov's work, but he also turns to the contemporary spectators in order to make them think not only about the pre-liberation era, but also about everything that is happening around us and with us in today's divided world.
In this 160-year journey from Ottoman Bulgaria to modern free Bulgaria, Maestro Kartaloff turns to the popular writer Georgi Gospodinov, from under whose pen comes an analytical text about the "Chatterers" and the modern Bulgarians. Malin Krastev and Mihail Bilalov read this text, thus helping today's spectator to better orient himself in Vazov's "Chatterers". One might ask – is this necessary? Such a directorial device is mostly necessary for younger spectators, so that they can immerse themselves not only in that Renaissance era, but also understand it and, God forbid, rediscover it for themselves.
A day before the start of the new artistic season, the Director of the Sofia Opera Acad. Plamen Kartaloff initiated a memorial meeting dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the birth of the composer Lazar Nikolov. At the meeting it became clear that the National Academy of Music "Prof. Pancho Vladigerov" will publish a book with memories of prof. Lazar Nikolov.
"He himself wished this edition to be printed and published at least 20 years after his death. There is a lot of interesting information there, which he himself used to trace the history of his works", commented the musicologist Prof. Angelina Petrova.
"In my memory, Lazar Nikolov is the man who was exceptionally creative. An intellectual, I would call him. A man who touched the barometer of the epoch", said Acad. Plamen Kartaloff.
"My excitement is tremendous because our artists with great desire, passion, enthusiasm, will and professionalism learned these difficult roles, difficult vocal tasks. The orchestra also took the task very well. We know what the attitude to contemporary Bulgarian music is in many ensembles, but here there was an atmosphere to make this title," Kartaloff added.
"Honour does to Acad. Kartaloff and the management of the opera for making this meeting. This is a very nice gesture to the Bulgarian musicians. It is such a gesture, which is very rarely done lately. In spite of the fact that during his lifetime Lazar Nikolov had his supporters, as well as many people who did not share his convictions, his way of writing, he remains a great constellation together with his other colleagues and supporters of that time", said Acad. Georgi Minchev.