About the director Mihail Hadzhimishev – his 100th Anniversary
19 Sep 2014

About the director Mihail Hadzhimishev – his 100th Anniversary

Mihail Hadzhimishev was born in 1914 in the family of the Bulgarian diplomat Pancho Hadzhimishev and the American Pansy Marian Brown.
The parents of five children, the last of who was Mihail Hadzhimishev, met in Paris, where the future father was still a student in law and the young American and her mother were maybe one of the first immigrants from America in Europe at the end of the 19 century (about 1885 – after the death of the head of the family, the factory owner from Chicago Thomas Brown).

Later on, the diplomatic career led the young family in Greece, Austria, Italy, Holland, France and two times in Great Britain. The children were born in the most cases outside Bulgaria and lived with their parents at the places where Pancho Hadzhimishev was Minister plenipotentiary.
The long-awaited son Mihail was born in Bulgaria and at his father’s will he received secondary education in his fatherland. After that he was sent to study law at the Sorbonne, with the idea to continue the family tradition. But what his father didn’t know, was that along with law Mihail, or as everybody called him Misho, started to study music at the prestigious “Schola Cantorum” by Pierre Dupré and Nadia Boulanger.

Tempted by singing, it was namely there where Misho learned the French technique of voice leading – quite unknown at that time here, on the Balkans. But parallel with this he gradually understood that his voice was enough only for chamber performances.
That way, on the basis of his bitter self-estimation, he turned to opera directing – but not at once.

In 1944, Mihail Hadzhimishev, however, gave satisfaction to his father. As young official at the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs he was sent initially as mobilized interpreter to the military-political mission at Tito’s staff, and later he was appointed as press-ataché at the Bulgarian legation in Belgrade (1944-1947). Parallel with this, Hadzhimishev applied for and was appointed initially as assistant director at the Sofia Opera. He assisted the guest from Bolshoi Theatre Pavel Rumyantsev in one production. Immediately after, he debuted in season 1947-48 by directing independently the opera “Momchil” by Lyubomir Pipkov after the libretto by Hristo Radevsky.

So began the forty years long career of Mihail Hadzhimishev as opera director, pedagogue and translator of opera librettos. In these years he directed eighty-five spectacles, from which twenty-two on the stage of the Sofia National Opera.

In our country he gave guest-performances on the stages of the Ruse, Varna, Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Pleven, Vratsa, Sliven, Yambol and Blagoevgrad Operas, where he realized thirty-three productions.

Here I must remind that in these years all operas had to be performed in Bulgarian language. For this reason, parallel with his active work as director, Mihail Hadzhimishev translated over fifty librettos from the world opera classic to his father language.

Outside Bulgaria, his guest-performances were in Belgium – “Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie”, Ireland – Wexford Festival Opera, Great Britain – Glyndebourne Festival Opera, London – Theatre of the Covent Garden Opera Studio – master classes with three opera productions, the USA – the Opera House in Bloomington – Indiana and in San Francisco, Turkey – Ankara, Argentina – “Teatro Colon”, Holland – the Opera Houses in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Malta – Teatru Manoel.

Till the end of his career he worked in Switzerland at the Opera Theatres in Biel and in Freiburg, where after the general rehearsal of his last production of “Cosi fan tutte” on 27 December 1987 his labours were over.

Because of the political situation in Bulgaria at that time only the “Narodna kultura” newspaper with one sentence announced the decease of Mihail Hadzhimishev.

Twenty years after this event the radically changed “Kultura” newspaper marked the Anniversary with a text written by me – his son.
I would like to thank most cordially to the management and the team of Sofia Opera and Ballet for the dedication of the spectacle “Don Carlos” on 20 September to my father and to his unforgettable friend from the years of his youth – the great Bulgarian Boris Christoff, who, while still living, was not allowed to be guest-performer on this stage...

Here is the place to say that my father’s life and the way he walked in the art of the opera, wouldn’t be possible without the constellation of Bulgarian opera singers – soloists and chorus singers, musicians and conductors, Bulgarian composers and set designers, among which his wife Ani – the people with who he worked until his last breath here, in our motherland and on the great world stages.
Let us remember all of them.

Ivo Hadzhimishev

September 2014