210 years since the birth and 140 years since the death of Richard Wagner
08 Jul 2023Sofia Opera and Ballet

210 years since the birth and 140 years since the death of Richard Wagner

Member of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

210 years since the birth and 140 years since the death of Richard Wagner are a sign of fate for the Sofia Opera to mark celebrations specially dedicated to him, with its seven productions from his creative heritage, composer's power and their unceasing cosmic dimension. But our undertaking is also the audacity to continue with our own strengths and only with Bulgarian artists a tradition that we established in 2010 and have maintained since then with “The Ring of the Nibelung” (“Das Rheingold”, “Die Walküre”, “Siegfried”, “The Götterdämmerung”), “Tristan and Isolde”, “Parsifal” and “The Flying Dutchman” outdoors on Pancharevo Lake.

We also created, for the first time, a special Wagner fantasy performance in the Magura cave, not far from the famous Belogradchik rocks. The audience travelled as the action unfolded to ten stage locations spread over about two kilometres underground. The main fragments included fragments of the underground kingdom Nibelheim from “Das Rheingold”, the love meeting in the cave of Venus with Tannhäuser (“Tannhäuser”), a fragment of “Parsifal”, etc.

Of course, we are particularly proud to recognize all the first and subsequent performances in different years with German repertoire of the Sofia Opera and its famous singers of the past: “Das Rheingold” (1943), “Die Walküre” (1948), “The Flying Dutchman” (1954), “Lohengrin” (1979), “Tannhäuser (1986).

And now, again “The Ring of the Nibelung” in a new production. In a new way, it enriches and improves our first experience, giving an even greater chance, not only evolutionary, but also revolutionary, to develop the repertoire diversity with Wagner's works in the Bulgarian operatic tradition. Not only in the well-trodden paths of the Bulgarian, Italian, Russian and French schools of composers, but in an ongoing sequence with the German repertoire – the productions of the Sofia Opera in the last two decades with the works of Richard Wagner (“The Ring of the Nibelung”, “Tristan and Isolde”, “Parsifal” and “The Flying Dutchman”) and Richard Strauss (“Salome”, “Elektra” and “Ariadne on Naxos”).

My intention after thirteen years for a new, second directorial reading of “The Ring of the Nibelung” tetralogy is both a dedication to the 210th anniversary of Richard Wagner, but also to the memory of Richard Trimborn, the invaluable pedagogue and Wagner stylist for Bulgarian singers, preferred for collaboration also by the great conductors Wolfgang Sawallisch and Carlos Kleiber.

The new production is also a new reimagining of the first Bulgarian “Ring” on the stage of the Sofia Opera, created only with Bulgarian opera artists, in the period 2010 – 2013. The main thing in this concept is like a journey into a fantastic story about people and events from mythological time in the context of the present and the future, but to the projections of a world situated in the repeating cycle of birth – life – death.

Mythological time can be transferred into the reality of any historical time, of the behaviour and relations of men and societies, in their endurance competition for profit, power and world supremacy.

Conflicts give rise to wars, born in circles of interest and lawlessness. The relationship between privileged and normal is in the dialectical test of man and societies. My directorial look from the score of Wagner's tetralogy to its image on the stage, forms a world of energies that, through the expressive power of hyperbole, are also a powerful sign of the idea of greatness and sunset. A cycle in dynamic circular development, of a world and the people in it, from their birth to their death.

The image of the performance is created by the suggestion and the erupting magnetic power of the music igniting the imagination, through cinematic time-space scenes.