7 performances of the newest production of Sofia Opera and Ballet are definitely not enough for the Bulgarian friends of music. Up to the last place they have filled in the hall for the afternoon spectacle this Sunday, which was announced as the last one for this opera on the programme playbill. We could explain this great interest the following way: first, the Bulgarian audience burns with desire to see our local stars. They are often invited on the world stages, but more rarely they find in their agendas a place for appearances in their motherland, where the conditions are far more modest. That is why our great opera performers come back home mainly for concerts and recitals, if they do it at all.
Endrik Wottrich, Nadia Krasteva. Photo: Viktor Viktorov
It was a real pre-Christmas present for the friends of the opera to have the chance to applause the marvellous mezzo-soprano Nadia Krasteva. And, second, the management of Sofia Opera since some time already succeeds to wake and keep awake the interest of its audience to entirely new or totally forgotten works from the opera repertoire. This was the case with Wagner’s tetralogy “Der Ring des Nibelungen”, which was performed as a whole for the first time on the Balkans and provoked a sensation with international response. Now such is the case with the opera by Camille Saint-Saëns, a work, which was not presented in the last 80 years in Sofia. (Before there were two performances in 1923 and in1932, as well as one in 1968 at the Opera in Ruse).
Nadia Krasteva. Photo: Viktor Viktorov
Except for shining in the main part of Dalila, Nadia Krasteva plaid a decisive role for the choice of this work. She expressed her desire to sing exactly this role on her native stage. For her it is a „divine music”. She admits also that her debut in the role of Dalila in the USA was exceptionally successful and that she had wonderful memories of this enthusiastic reception. The Bulgarian audience already knows her fiery Carmen. It is understandable this success to be followed by another passionate character – by Dalila. At that Nadia Krasteva possesses a strong, in all respects well-sounding voice, dark coloured timbre, impressive look, as well as acting skill, therefore everything, which is necessary for the representation of this character. From stage and musical point of view Dalila absolutely suits Nadia Krasteva and this will surely be her next famous role.
The cooperation with the German tenor Endrik Wottrich as Samson brings charisma and more colours in the production. After “Fidelio” during the last year now for a second time he is guest in Sofia. With his body strength and power of the voice Wottrich presents the person of a tormented by lovesickness character, who bends before female slyness. The great advantage of this stage couple is the power of singing, accompanied by the constant change of the mood of both characters, namely of the seducer, who transforms into a killer, and of the hero, who gives strength to his people, but who is shaken up by his own passion.
The High Priest of Dagon was Biser Georgiev; Abimélech – Veselin Mihaylov; the Old Hebrew – Angel Hristov; Philistine Messenger – Hrisimir Damyanov; First Philistine –Plamen Papzikov; Second Philistine – Anton Radev.
Erich Wächter, who since the last season has been Chief Conductor of the Sofia Opera, accepted the challenge to reproduce the very exotic music picture, created by Camille Saint-Saëns. He admits that he has begun to deal with this work quite late in his career; he has conducted it for the first time only three years ago. “I haven’t worked with Nadia Krasteva before, but meanwhile I am obsessed by the talent of this singer. I simply follow her voice with the baton” – shares frankly the German maestro in front of the press. Under his conducting the orchestra and the chorus of our National Opera showed their maximum.
The director Hugo de Ana, well-known with his specific director’s solutions and complex work, puts high requirements to the soloist Nadia Krasteva, as well as to the entire ensemble. They have to represent a homogeneous part of the total appearance, by taking part in the ballet scenes too. As it was expected, Hugo de Ana again placed an emphasis on a set design, based on light effects. Characteristic for his choice of the costumes is the collision between the ascetic clothes of the Hebrews and the kitsch garments of the Philistines, which in the last act turn the temple into a real cabaret.
Nadia Krasteva and ensemble. Photo: Viktor Viktorov
As a whole we can speak of a triumphal evening for Nadia Krasteva, as well as of enthusiastic audience, very long applauses for the soloists, the chorus, the ballet and the conductor after the final drop of the stage curtain.
Irena Gadaleva (Bulgarian National Radio), Boryana Yosifova (correspondent of the Bulgarian National Radio in Vienna)