Two debuts on the stage of the Sofia Opera in Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades"
01 Apr 2024Newspaper “24 Chasa”

Two debuts on the stage of the Sofia Opera in Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades"

In the two performances of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Queen of Spades" on 19 and 21 April, two of the National Opera's outstanding soloists will perform for the first time in their new roles. Radostina Nikolaeva will perform her first Liza, and Kostadin Andreev will be Herman for the first time in front of the Bulgarian audience. In the spectacle will also take part Gergana Rusekova as the Countess, Ventseslav Anastasov as Count Tomsky, Atanas Mladenov as Prince Yeletsky, Violeta Radomirska as Polina, as well as Nikolay Pavlov, Biser Georgiev, Rosen Nenchev, Nikolay Voynov, Silvia Teneva, Yuliana Todorova, the Sofia Opera Chorus and Orchestra. The performances will be conducted by Konstantin Trinks. The impressive staging is by Vera Petrova, with set design by Nela Stoyanova and costumes by Hristiana Mihaleva-Zorbalieva, as well as sculpture by Aleksandra Tihomirova, the chorus master is Violeta Dimitrova.

This season for Radostina Nikolaeva started with two very successful tours. In October she was Chrysothemis in "Elektra" by Richard Strauss during the first tour of the Sofia Opera Festival in Daegu, South Korea. In November, again with the Opera Collective, she performed one of her crowning roles, Tosca, on the Ankara Opera stage. On stage in Sofia, the audience applauded her as Ariadne in Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos", as Tosca in Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" and as Micaëla in Georges Bizet's "Carmen".

The next big challenge for Radostina Nikolaeva is her new Wagnerian character, Elsa in "Lohengrin", which she will perform in June. The spectacle is part of the traditional Wagner Festival of the Sofia Opera. As part of the festival, Radostina will also be Brünnhilde in "Siegfried" on 18 June.

Then, at the Opera of the Peaks – Belogradchik Rocks festival on 2 August, she will again be Tosca, and on 4 August Liù in "Turandot". The spectacles are dedicated to the year of Giacomo Puccini.

The other debutant is tenor Kostadin Andreev.

"I have been singing the role of Herman since 2008 in many productions abroad. The first one was in Lyon, and the conductor was Kirill Petrenko. The same 2008 I did it in Bonn, then in Maribor. There I had the good fortune to sing with Mariana Lipovšek. I was also Herman in Bratislava, and in Krasnoyarsk on the same stage with the great Elena Obraztsova. It was an incredible happiness. I remember I met her at the performance itself. It was unforgettable because preparing to go out I saw her sitting backstage as well. She called me over, wished me well, and then we went to dinner and it was a memorable experience. I sang a lot of shows at the "Queen of Spades" in Halle, Germany. These six productions abroad and none in Bulgaria. When this production premiered, I rehearsed, but couldn't get out. Here now I have this opportunity to sing this most favourite role of mine in front of my favourite Sofia audience.

I have to say that whenever I've sung Herman, I find something different. Some productions have been traditional, others have been contemporary, but I really like Vera Petrova's because it's different. Everything takes place in the mind of the character. All the time he is either dreaming or remembering. It's not at all easy to convey that in a way that the audience understands. And as an approach, as a thought and an idea, it leads to a strong inner expression. This opera suggests a similar possibility, to sob, to suffer. But Vera wants everything to be minimalistic, very collected, inside the character and that's what I like. I took these demands of hers as a challenge to be able to look at this image from a completely different angle."

This season Kostadin Andreev has two great premieres. After "Queen of Spades", "Lohengrin" awaits him. So far he has sung "Tosca" with great success – in Turkey and here in Sofia, he was also Don José in "Carmen". At the Wagner Festival on 18 June he will be Siegfried from the opera of the same name.

"I've been scouting Lohengrin for a while. Lohengrin is another Cosmos. I had the great fortune to work interpretively with Anna Tomowa-Sintow. I have sung with her a lot on stage – both here and in Stara Zagora. But now it is different. She introduced me to this role. It is a role without analogue. Lohengrin comes from somewhere and goes there again, this is the Divine Power, the Guardian of the Grail. And all of this has to be felt first in the singing. We've already staged the whole opera with Maestro Kartaloff and the spectacle is incredible. With artists it's always like that – to go from Cavaradossi to Don José, Herman, Siegfried, Lohengrin. It keeps the artist young, always in shape. This is our life."

This is what Kostadin Andreev said.

The premiere of "Queen of Spades" was on 18 November 2022. Since then, this "fantastic dream in black and white and golden colours, the fantastic tale about the story of a man and of each one of us" according to the director's interpretation by Vera Petrova has attracted the interest of the spectators who fill the Sofia Opera.