40 years artistic activity marks the prima ballerina Masha Ilieva.
27 Jan 2022Bulgarian National Radio

40 years artistic activity marks the prima ballerina Masha Ilieva.

No matter how incredible it may sound – 40 years artistic activity will mark the prima ballerina Masha Ilieva on the stage of the Sofia Opera and Ballet. This will happen next month – on 11 and 12 February, with the ballet classic “The Sleeping Beauty”.

Masha Ilieva
studied at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg and still before the age of 18, she became part of the cast of the Sofia National Opera, as it was called at that time. Since 1990, Masha Ilieva has been prima ballerina and took part in all lead roles from the theatre’s ballet repertoire – in “Giselle”, “Don Quixote”, “Swan Lake”, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Zorba the Geek”. 

Masha Ilieva is an artist, choreographer, repetiteur, pedagogue and ballet stage director, and in the last years she works with children. This exactly gives her the greatest pleasure, acknowledges she.

40 years seem quite a lot to me, as if I don’t believe that this time has elapsed. I decided the jubilee to be marked with “The Sleeping Beauty”, because this was a peak in my career. When you dance alone and you want the audience to like you, the challenge is very big. Besides, the staging is a super production, in the spectacle participate over 100 people, together with the orchestra”, said Masha Ilieva in a special interview for “Horizont till Noon”.

In the period 2001-2003, Ilieva was Artistic Director of the National ballet – Sofia. Then the Bulgarian ballet audience met for the first time Balanchine’s work and was staged the original setting of “La Sylphide”.  

Since 2009, she has been repetiteur at the Sofia Opera and Ballet, and in 2014, already as ballet stage director, Masha Ilieva revived the ballet classic “The Sleeping Beauty” on the stage of our national opera and ballet theatre. This is why namely with this spectacle Sofia Opera and Ballet will mark the celebration of the prima ballerina. 

In the period, in which Masha Ilieva was artist-ballerina, and later on – prima ballerina, “The Sleeping Beauty” had its own story, connected with the Opera. In 1983 the great ballet artist and choreographer Māris Liepa transported the version of the Bolshoi Theatre of the ballet “The Sleeping Beauty”, setting it on the stage of the Sofia National Opera. At this moment Masha Ilieva was since quite a short time part of the theatre’s ballet troupe. She was entrusted all small solos.

Later the ballet “The Sleeping Beauty” was revived by Boyko Nedelchev in the art, in which it was set by Liepa. Already as prima ballerina, Masha Ilieva entered into the role of Princess Aurora and The Lilac Fairy.

In 2005 followed one more version of the ballet masterpiece – the one of the Mariinsky Theatre. Here Masha performed the role of The Lilac Fairy.

And so, in 2014, already as ballet stage director, Masha Ilieva revived “The Sleeping Beauty” on the stage of Sofia Opera and Ballet. She kept the authenticity of the ballet and in the same time inserted her own reading in some of the key roles in the spectacle, for example the role of Fairy Carabosse. In the original version the role is performed by a man, in order to be emphasized most strongly the contrast of Fairy Carabosse with the rest of the fairies in the ballet. In Masha Ilieva’s staging Fairy Carabosse is a woman with domineering character, vindictive and adamant. The premiere took place on 14 November 2014 and enjoyed great success.

The spectators of Sofia Opera and Ballet will have again the chance to enjoy the fairy-tale ballet classic “The Sleeping Beauty”, staging and direction by Masha Ilieva, on 11 and 12 February 2022 at 19:00 h. Both spectacles are celebration of the well-known Bulgarian prima ballerina, a gesture of gratitude and recognition for everything, which she has given and continues giving the Bulgarian ballet as artist, choreographer, coach, pedagogue and ballet stage director.

More on this topic in the sound file.