Dimitar Stanchev: I thank God that I am healthy and have devoted so many years to the art of opera
29 Nov 2022Newspaper “24 Chasa”

Dimitar Stanchev: I thank God that I am healthy and have devoted so many years to the art of opera

I was born between Sliven and Kazanlak, in the village of Tvarditsa. My childhood passed with nice people – honest, with pure souls, affectionate. My parents had no interest in opera, so they advised me to take up a profession that could feed me.

In 1967, when I was 22, I started studying medicine in Stara Zagora. There I met many artists from the Stara Zagora Opera. They auditioned me and told me I had a voice, but advised me to start studying. I listened to them – I started taking lessons and consultations with the singer Penka Gekova, and then with Vasil Stanishev. I also owe a lot to the accompanist pianist Lili Baynova. A lot of people helped me to turn to real opera singing...

I completed my medical training and got my paramedic diploma. I went to Sofia and applied to the Conservatory. I was accepted the first time – immediately. I fell under the influence of a teacher like Professor Chavdar Hadzhiev. He was a wonderful man – dedicated and he was very attached to me. My memory of him is vivid and I return to his image with affection. This was in the period 1969-1973. I was curious about what was going on at the Sofia Opera, which I idolized. My whole studying was spent here, in this building, on the third balcony. I never missed an opera or a performance. I just slept here. Once Professor Brambarov made a decision and sent me for a season to the Pleven Opera in 1973. After only one year the Sofia Opera announced a competition for young opera singers. I showed up and was immediately accepted. Later, in 1978 I won the International Competition for Opera Singers. So the door opened for me to go abroad. I received invitations to tour in Turkey, Spain, the Czech Republic, Mexico, the GDR. In 1972 Radosveta Boyadzhieva invited me to participate in "La Bohème" in Vratsa. Their Philharmonia was top notch and I accepted the role of Colline. I didn't cheat the Sofia Opera as I have only played on two foreign stages in our country – the Pleven and Vratsa ones. Since 1948, I have invariably taken part in productions of the Sofia Opera. Here I had and have many good friends such as Gerdzhikov, Gyuzelev, Bodurov, and also of my young colleagues.

In my country I have worked with pleasure with directors such as Petar Pavlovich Sharbanov, Mihail Hadzhimishev, who from 1948 to 1979 was at the National Opera, as the Sofia Opera was then called, Emil Boshnakov, Nikolay Nikolov – Dzhoto. For many years I have participated in the productions of Maestro Plamen Kartaloff, who revived many Bulgarian operas for the public, staged operas by Richard Wagner and managed to show the Japanese audience the power of our opera art. Thanks to him there is discipline and order in the Opera.

The characteristic of my career as an opera singer is that I have always pursued my goal – to be the best in the role I am entrusted with. Rigour is a fundamental quality in my work. When I start working on a character, I am like a soldier – I work everything out – from the beginning to the end. I have no respect for those artistes – here and abroad – who don't give the final touches to the things. For them I say: "Laid down on the poster!" I will give an example of carelessness. I was in Cuba, invited to sing Don Basilio, in "Il barbiere di Siviglia". I looked in the dressing room at the black waistcoat I have to wear. It was terribly dirty. I told the woman on the staff to clean it. The next day the cassock was still in the same condition. I looked at the woman in astonishment, she grasped my question and said again, "mañana, mañana". Indignant, I grabbed the cassock and washed it. It rained and the cassock could not dry. So I played with a wet cassock that was dripping with water. What's the difference between the Spanish "mañana" and the Turkish "yavash-yavash"?
The Spanish says: "mañana" – it means calmly, things will happen, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, in a week or two, without hurrying. And the Turk and the Native: - "Yavash-Yavash" is something like the Spanish "mañana", but it sounds more hasty, that is, dynamic, but it is the same.
Now on 2 December, our Opera goes to the Stara Zagora Festival with the opera satire "Chatterers" by Lazar Nikolov and Ivan Vazov. It does honour to Maestro Kartaloff that he has revived this forgotten opera for the audience. With incredibly good direction, talented artists, wonderful set design and costumes. I was invited in the past to take part in Lazar Nikolov's "Chained Prometheus", but declined. Now Plamen Kartaloff's production has grabbed me.

On 10 December will be my Concert dedicated to my 50 years of artistic work at the Opera. They call me the doyen of Bulgarian basses. For 5 decades I have not left this stage, which I love very much. I believe that the audience also remembers me and holds on to me. I thank God that I am healthy and have devoted so many years to the art of opera. God grant everyone health and success in their work!