19 May 2023Sofia Opera and Ballet


A magical story about the life of St. John of Rila on the stage of the Sofia Opera

In a spirit of reverence and respect for the work of St. John of Rila and loud applause last night passed the world premiere of the musical poem "The Hermit of Rila" on text by Tihomir Pavlov and music by Father Kiril Popov.

The mystically sculpted stage adaptation by Plamen Kartaloff was realized by Vera Petrova with the fantastic multimedia by Rosen Dimitrov, artistic lighting by Emil Dinkov and stage design by Nela Stoyanova.

Atanas Mladenov in the role of the Hermit of Rila as a young man and Irinei Konstantinov as the holy Wonderworker lit up the stage with their delightful impersonation. The chorus of the Sofia Opera conducted by Violeta Dimitrova was an outstanding partner of the soloists Veselin Mihaylov, Angel Hristov, Nikolay Petrov, Stefan Vladimirov. Ivan Radev's angelic performance as John's nephew Luka caused admiration and awe in the packed hall.

The conductor was His Eminence Metropolitan Kiprian of Stara Zagora, who with his expert presence led the spectacle with inspiration and confidence.

The audience rose to its feet at the end of the performance when the succession of the Desert Dweller of Rila was sounded – a great tribute to St. John of Rila and the centuries-old concentration of pilgrims at his holy relics in the Rila Monastery.

At the end of the evening, as a sign of attention and ecclesiastical merits, Stavrophoric steward Kiril Popov was awarded the Order of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church "St. John Koukouzelis".

The musical poem "The Hermit of Rila" will be performed once more on 23 May at 19 h. On the eve of the Day of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, of the Bulgarian alphabet, education and culture and of Slavonic literature.