Wagner is like Premier league football, says baritone Veselin Mihaylov
07 Jun 2024Bulgarian Telegraph Agency / Daniel Dimitrov

Wagner is like Premier league football, says baritone Veselin Mihaylov

Wagner should be reached for once you've gained more experience. It's like the premier league in football, like Formula 1 in race cars or the heavyweight division in sports. This is what baritone Veselin Mihaylov told BTA. He will make his debut as Wotan in “Das Rheingold” at the Wagner Festival at the Sofia Opera (13-23 June). 

"Wagner is not for everyone. Here not only mental but also physical preparation is required for the actor. Wagner said many times that his works are not operas but music dramas. So the actor on stage has to be really prepared," Mihaylov adds.

In “Das Rheingold”, he doesn't leave the stage for two hours. "Just that fact – being physically in the plot, concentrating all the time, and that responsibility, shows it's not easy. From a vocal point of view, Wagner is also very different. I adore Verdi and Puccini, and I can't say which is harder or more difficult, but Wagner has something different that experience and years help an artist to achieve," the soloist believes.

"My attitude towards the Wagner Festival is very special because I admire Academician Kartaloff and the whole team behind this grand project. After "Parsifal", where I was the evil wizard Klingsor, I will now embody the mighty god Wotan. This is a unique chance for me as a professional to experience a tetralogy - a string of operas that make a whole. Wotan is a very diverse character, not just in the way he behaves. Besides being human, he can transform into all sorts of other creatures. Because he has one big goal – to accumulate as much knowledge as possible. His motivation towards everything he does is to attain as much knowledge, wisdom and science as possible. He has taken the hard road to the light," says Veselin Mihaylov.

He says that after more than 20 productions at the Sofia Opera, now is the moment when he himself has expressed a desire and asked Acad. Kartaloff to trust him and let him go into the "deep waters of verismo and Wagner". A few years ago I definitely did not feel this pull, he admits. "A few months ago, I made my debut in "Tosca" as Baron Scarpia and that was the first step towards my Wagnerian journey. The mystique is very strong with this one, so it's a journey I think I'm ready for. A very long road ahead," adds the baritone.

In his words, the audience also needs to be prepared – because of the references to mythology: "Der Ring des Nibelungen" highlights German mythology. Wotan comes to knowledge by sacrificing his eye, and in doing so drinks from the fountain of wisdom and of science. The audience must be prepared to immerse itself in the musical drama," says Veselin Mihaylov.

Author – Daniel Dimitrov
Cameraman – Krasimir Mikhailov
Montage – Valya Kovacheva