Sofia Opera organizes a large-scale Wagner Festival in the new season
Photo: Агнес Методиева
29 Oct / Marina Chertova

Sofia Opera organizes a large-scale Wagner Festival in the new season

Two Bulgarian titles – "The Spring of the Whitefoot" and "The Hermit of Rila" will be staged

The premiere of two Bulgarian musical works will take place in the new season in 2022/2023 at the Sofia Opera and Ballet, announced at a meeting with the media the Director of the company, Acad. Plamen Kartaloff.

On 28 January 2023 will be the premiere of the ballet "The Spring of the Whitefoot" by Alexander Raichev (1922-2003) based on the poem of the same name by Petko R. Slaveykov (1827-1895), and on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the publication of the work and the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth.

One more Bulgarian title will be staged for the first time in Bulgaria – "The Hermit of Rila". The musical poem is based on lyrics by Tihomir Pavlov (1880-1937) and music by Father Kiril Popov, who was also present at the press conference. The announcement for the premiere of "The Hermit of Rila" was made on the eve of 19 October, when the Bulgarian Orthodox Church honours the memory of St. John of Rila – the humble hermit from the Rila Mountain, who is considered the heavenly patron of the Bulgarian people. The premiere of the work will be on 11 May next year – the day when the Church celebrates the memory of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius.

"The work was written in 1937 by the famous Bulgarian poet, writer and public figure Tihomir Pavlov. This poem on the life of St. John of Rila was officially approved and recommended by the then Ministry of Education," told Father Kiril Popov.

According to him, this poem is for inspiration, to strengthen faith and above all – to have joy in the Lord. "We are heirs of giants of the spirit. We are not accidental. It was a great spiritual joy and honour for me to present this musical poem – so that more people can come to know and hear these God-inspired lyrics," the father said. He recalled that the same author wrote the libretto of the opera "Strahil Voyvoda", based on music by Petko Naumov, a former Director of the opera.

Father Kiril Popov himself presented the musical work to the media on his way to the Rila Monastery, where he went for the feast of St. John of Rila.

In November will be the premiere of the opera "The Queen of Spades", a title that has not been performed for over 35 years on the stage of the Sofia Opera, maestro Plamen Kartaloff also announced. The production is directed by Vera Petrova.

The concert performance of "Fidelio" by Beethoven with the participation of Kurt Rydl, Gabriela Georgieva and many other good performers returns to the repertoire on 10 February 2023, added the Director of the Sofia Opera.

We are bringing back a new stage version of Rossini's "Il barbiere di Siviglia" under the direction of Nina Naydenova, a co-production with the Plovdiv Opera, announced Acad. Kartaloff. The premiere is scheduled for 2 March 2023.

Another highlight in the repertoire of the Sofia Opera in the new creative season is the organization of a large-scale Wagner Festival on the occasion of the 210th anniversary of the birth of the great German composer and thinker. All of Richard Wagner's operas staged at the Sofia Opera will be presented. All of them are under the direction of Аacad. Kartaloff, who is an acclaimed connoisseur on the German composer's works.

The festival, which will run from 8 to 30 July 2023, is expected to attract thousands of Wagner admirers from Bulgaria, Europe and around the world. The spectators will be able to see "Das Rheingold", "Die Walküre", "Siegfried" and "Götterdämmerung" from the tetralogy "Der Ring des Nibelungen", "Tristan und Isolde", "Parsifal" and "Der fliegende Holländer". Plamen Kartaloff is also the author of the book "My Wagner", in which he describes the history of the staging of Richard Wagner's famous tetralogy on the Bulgarian opera stage.

In the coming year too, Sofia Opera will organize the festivals "Muses of Water" on Lake Pancharevo, "Opera of the Peaks" on the Belogradchik Rocks, "Opera in the Park" in the park of the Academy of Defence in Sofia, "Portal of the Two Worlds" in the Tsari Mali Grad fortress near the village of Belchin and the traditional "Baby Concerts" at the Sofia Opera and the Academy of Defence.

The 132nd season of the Sofia Opera and Ballet opened as usual with the Bulgarian operatic satire "Chatterers" by Lazar Nikolov, and the occasion was the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth. The title remains in the poster of the theatre.

As has already reported from this season the ballet company of the Sofia Opera has a new Artistic director – this is the prima ballerina Marta Petkova. Despite her new position, the talented artist will not leave the stage as a ballerina, assured both her and maestro Plamen Kartaloff.

The Director of the Sofia Opera assured that the repertoire includes classical and new opera and ballet titles, as well as musicals, and every spectator can find in the rich poster of the theatre what he likes best. He recalled several times that while the whole world was closed during the pandemic, including all theatres around the world, the Sofia Opera did not stop its work and found a way to perform so that both the artists had work and the spectators were happy.

The Sofia Opera broadcast a large number of videos of its performances on social networks. "We did not stop to be in contact with our dear spectators and the artists in turn to see from the video projections what they have done, because this is an amazing activity – so rich, so diverse, in so many places," Maestro Kartaloff said, adding that the Sofia Opera works maximally and well organized and with a proper distribution of the artistic team.

Opera and ballet cannot be preserved in one building. They have to open up to the widest audience, especially today in the age of digital invasion of information, everyone is constantly obsessed with their phones and doesn't seem to be interested in anything, except being themselves and in the social world, as for better or worse it is offered by these electronic means of contact with the world", the director analysed the contemporary situation.

Before Acad. Plamen Kartaloff expressed the hope that in the new season there will be an increase in foreign opera admirers, who until 2020 traditionally visited the spectacles in Sofia organized or individually, as well as the festivals organized by the Sofia Opera.

"We work with the tour operators, who are our huge support, to have an audience from abroad, and they in turn are in touch with their counterparts. Without the travel agencies, you can't have full halls. We want to work with the whole country as well. We have seen caravans of buses from small towns, from surrounding villages and towns coming to see opera in Sofia," the Director of the Sofia Opera commented in response to a question from

"We had a planned visit to Japan, the eighth in a row, it is very complicated with the accommodation of large ensembles in hotels," maestro Kartaloff explained to on the occasion of possible forthcoming tours of Sofia Opera abroad. In Tokyo, they are very eager to welcome the company of the Sofia Opera and are waiting for it impatiently, but due to the bans related to Covid still in force in the Land of the Rising Sun, the travel of the capital's opera is hindered at this stage.

Acad. Plamen Kartaloff pointed out that currently theatres around the world manage to fill the halls to 60%, while the attendance at most spectacles of the Sofia Opera reaches 90-100%. This applied to all the productions on the four open stages last summer, which were completely sold out.

Photos: Agnes Metodieva