08 Jul 2023Sofia Opera and Ballet


About 5 years ago I started with the musical rehearsals for “Das Rheingold” and had great concern whether this daring venture would succeed. For the preparation involved, so to speak, two developments, on the one hand the musical, where one tries to penetrate into the depth of the thoughts of the composer. On the other hand, in parallel runs the process of visual realization on the stage by the director. Both are “births” and like any birth, they also carry risks.

How will the director feel the deep, mythological dimension of this pan-European work (based on the Greek, Roman and Germanic mythology, which are all similar). Both paths can interfere with each other and also destroy each other. That is the fear of the musician of the director, and vice versa.

Much to my surprise and delight I met in Plamen Kartaloff an artist who with a “childlike” naivety and striking confidence created the stage space for the actors. He found both the right language for the present time and also the adequate approach to timeless depth of the mythology. Not a destruction of the music, but quite the opposite, a complete dedication to the gigantic work.

For an “old fighter” like me, a stellar moment. The long years, thousands of hours of extensive work found here a felicitous adequate stage realization, truly an artistic “wedding”. What, in my life with “The Ring”, all in all 11 times, I have found only here.

For that I am grateful, and I congratulate the Sofia Opera Theatre wholeheartedly with their leader Professor Plamen Kartaloff.

It's a long road. And each of those years, there was intensive training with the singers for three or four months. They are very committed, very dedicated.

They have tremendous ambition and great desire to succeed, to do their arias in these operas. They just said, “I will sing that!”

The biggest challenge is the special relationship between music and text, and even subtext, which stems from the nature of the German language.

This is a melody that is dictated by diction. The very structure of Wagner's rubato – the truncated phrases, not those smooth melodic lines, is already a challenge. A kind of music which stems from the diction, the way in which the phrase itself is pronounced, even the words.

The most precious thing in Plamen Kartaloff is that he is a visionary, as we say in German. That is, a man with a vision, a perspective. And that's the most important for the people in the theatre, with whom he works.

“For seven years I’ve borne it now” sings Sir Archibald Douglas in a famous ballad of the great Wagner admirer Carl Loewe. So we have both, dear Plamen, worn on the ring year after year to complete it. But we had loyal companions: our singers who all these years have accompanied us with never-ending enthusiasm, note by note, step by step, kilometre after kilometre.

Now we present the results of our labours before a German audience.

We made a conscious effort in this to comply with Wagner's understanding that
the Greek, Roman and Germanic mythology are one, and thus have a pan-European dimension.

I congratulate you on your inexhaustible source of scenic visions, and the never ending work to realize them.

Now that the “child” is born, it may grow and flourish, as Hans Sachs says in “Die Meistersinger”, and we are now looking for ways and hope for a good, successful life of our “child”.

In gratitude,
a “parent”