Sunday, 17 September 2017

NEWSPAPER “TELEGRAPH”, 12.08.2017, page 13

The Director of the Sofia Opera Plamen Kartaloff”:


- Acad. Kartaloff, by a huge interest of the audience from the entire country and abroad finished the second Summer Festival “Opera of the Peaks” beside the Belogradchik Rocks, and tomorrow is the end of the first Summer Festival “Fortress of Ages – Baba Vida” in Vidin. How difficult is the realization of projects of such large scale in the open air?

- Life is a competition in extreme endurance – this is the warning of one of the most important secrets in order to achieve of bigger success in the work. Then the obstacles and the difficulties are a predestined condition for confident taking of the risk on the long and often full of unforeseeable surprises way to achieving of success of each intention, sought at all costs. And to manage to engage the right adherents for a project, they to be convinced the way you are, to feel voluntarily the motivation and the encouragement from the sense and the social benefit, it is already a cause. To assess and defend uncompromisingly and with professionalism every step in the economical thinking and the creative work, to fulfil the project.

- These two projects attract tourists-music lovers not only from entire Bulgaria, but also from abroad. Why do they come here according to you?

- For “Opera of the Peaks”, its attractive features are several. It’s natural that at first place is the majesty and the might of one real wonder, which are the Belogradchik Rocks. But the homogeneity, to which I am striving, the natural environment and reality, as a natural set, by all means had to be in synthesis of the natural phenomenon with the character of another phenomenon and wonder of civilization, and this is the art of the opera and the ballet, the other curiosity, pushing an audience of thousands towards the magic festival evenings. No, no, this cannot be described with words, it must be seen” was the inviting appeal of Konstantin Jireček at his first sight of the Belogradchik Rocks. And now for the first time they are discovered for and by a new and special audience. To see the peaks of the rocks at dusk, crimsoned not only by the magic of the colours of the setting sun, but also by the virtuosity of the tints of music, singing, acting in their embrace. Another motivation for the interest of the audience is that tops and masterpieces of the musical and ballet dramaturgy will be seen in a new way and with another look of interpretation. But produced in a director’s way in another non-standard and unusual environment, and not at an occasional place. The audience has already shared with us that it has confidence in order to travel specially from hundreds and thousands of kilometres to visit the spectacles of the proven most attractive summer opera festival all over the world. The idea for “Opera of the Peaks” is with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the Belogradchik Municipality. With the Mayor Mr. Rosen Mladenov one works calmly. But I must surely mention with gratitude the trust and the sponsor’s support, which we were granted by many companies and organizations.

- And what is the situation in Vidin?

- The summer opera and ballet festival evenings in “Fortress of the Ages” in the Medieval castle “Baba Vida” in Vidin is our new start for yet another cultural impulse in North-West Bulgaria, which was born thanks to the exceptional collaboration and intentions for a reacher cultural future of Vidin, of the Mayor Mr. Ognyan Tsenkov and Mrs. Andreeva, Secretary of the Municipality. At three places in the town: the incredible and unique stage on the barge of the Danube River, several stage levels in the spaces of the fortress with spectacles for the youngest audience of Vidin, at that the river again takes part in the action; and still one a stage on the Bdintsi Square. Each selected location is connected with the right repertoire and the genre specific of the playbill. This is also an important motivation for attracting of the audience, not only from the town, but also from the region and the country.

- Will you continue also next year to help developing the tourism in the North-West region through the opera music?

- The answer is not an easy one. After we invested so much labour, professional devotion and results for a new cultural Renaissance in North-West Bulgaria, it is right to be bigger the share of collaboration of the local authorities – economical and logistical. Respectively the concern of the Ministry of Culture to be not only with priorities in the sea landscape, but also in other living phenomena of nature and the people in our fatherland. Attractive places, which are exceptional and already awaken for new and new visitors from everywhere, especially with the purpose of giving a more impressing look of the towns Belogradchik and Vidin with their own image and mirror for a cultural national progress. The heroic historical past with the first revolts against the Ottoman dominion from 1850 and the fight for independence in this region, a longing for own economic and cultural progress in the outlines of the Ottoman Empire are an example of real patriotism. And whether today is enough only the anger against the dead economic and the depopulation? Necessary is a new thinking about solid support and national policy for the North-West. People saw how art helps the economic. For our spectacles all hotels, houses for guests also in the smallest villages were booked before months.

- What surprises do you prepare for the audience for the new season?

- Every new repertoire programme is expected with interest by the audience. We do our best to make a balance of the styles and the composer’s schools, to discover new talents, and the care about their development is a registered mark – the Sofia Opera to discover and give new names a boost for the national and world opera and ballet stage. We work hard also for our newest, youngest audience, which is one of our priorities as a task. In this sense, we have a specially rich and varied repertoire. From the conventional classic masterpieces to new titles, which the National Opera Theatre offers constantly. The new opera titles are “Carmen” by Georges Bizet and “Yana’s Nine Brothers” by Lyubomir Pipkov. The new ballet premieres are “Le corsaire” by Adolf Adam and “The Fire-Dancer” by Marin Goleminov. Three are also the new premieres for the young audience on the stage of the Chamber hall, furnished with new chairs: “Apollo et Hyacinthus” by Mozart, which he wrote when he was thirteen, “Noah’s Arc” by Britten and “Katze Ivanka” by Matesic. The three works will be produced for the first time in Bulgaria. The traditional “Concerts for Babies” are also with a new programme.

- Upcoming is a travelling of the company and a guest-performance at the Bolshoi Theatre. You have chosen to perform Wagner at the world-known and prestigious opera in Russia, isn’t it?

- Wagner’s music brought to the Sofia Opera with its productions world recognition. They were presented several times not only on our stage, but also in Belarus, Slovenia and Germany. And now in Russia. This is a wonderful possibility for us to have a guest-performance on the historical stage of the Bolshoi, which gives access to its building only to most prestigious casts like La Scala and the Royal Theatre in London. But we are resurrecting also the tradition of cooperation, which existed between the Sofia Opera and the Bolshoi Theatre since more than 30 years. We shall present also the most significant classic of the Bulgarian ballet dramaturgy “The Fire-Dancer” by Marin Goleminov. I was insisting very much in the guest-performance to take part also our ballet company, which is in excellent form.

- Please, tell us about the international forum “Opera-Europa”.

- “Opera-Europa” is a leading organization of professional opera theatres from all over the world. The Sofia Opera is a regular member, together with 176 companies from 42 countries. At congresses and conferences we debated different topics, connected with focusing of the contemporary tendencies and development of the opera theatres, increase in the number of the audience and in the revenues, the new technologies and development by the interpretation of the works today, the personnel and its development, methods for attraction of sponsors, dynamic marketing and public relations and their role for the development of the opera theatre. The cooperation and co-productions are another important part of the meetings and discussions. The Sofia Opera was given the right to be host of the international forum of “Opera-Europa” in March 2018. The main themes, about which will come the managements of the opera theatres, members of the organization, are marketing and communications, human resources, business and finance forum, technical forum and productions. Our hosting is a proof of recognition and respect to our membership in the organization, as well as the achievements of the Sofia Opera with its contribution in spectacles, which received world praise.

- What would like to watch and listen the Bulgarian spectator?

- Beautiful spectacles with excellent voices.

- How does one make high art in the times, in which we are living?

- With persistence in spite of the crisis and the neglect, which are far away from the criteria for fair and worthy estimation of the achievements. It is as if irritating, when you strive for perfection, and this is why one chooses the easier, the harmless things and mediocrity is preferred. People of art don’t have to take into consideration anything and anyone, when they are convinced in their intentions and goals, called to follow in the name of the cause.

- Unfortunately, there are many young people, who don’t know who is Wagner, nor Chopin, for example. How do you explain yourself the lack of cultural knowledge among the young generation?

- Still more interesting is to awaken the nap in the not tempted one, to prepare him for high pilotage, to be like a discoverer of new tastes and like one new Parsifal to be ready for a “healing journey of the human soul towards the world and towards itself”.

- Since years, you put the accent on Wagner’s repertoire. With what his works are actual also today?

- With a new aspect of the look towards Bulgaria, which gave so many of its talents to hundreds of opera houses, scattered all over the world. With a new vision of seeing through in the musical and stage education of our singers and artists about the opera. With new repertoire horizons of the audience, enough it has swallowed, although masterpieces, but always limited ones. Our Wagner repertoire has educated a new generation of artists of the Sofia Opera, soloists, members of the orchestra and the chorus. It gave world popularity of our theatre and made commensurable the sense of our profession and the work in the field of operatic art with the one of artists on the biggest and with centuries-old traditions stages, capitals, countries.

This is he:

- Born in Dobrich on 15 September 1948

- Graduated the State Academy of Music in Sofia, and later specialized Opera directing in Germany and Cinema directing at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts

- His innovative élan covers a wide range of styles and authors and he is one of the few directors in the world, who count on operas by Wagner and by Verdi in one season

- Still as a student in Sofia, he founded the first chamber opera theatre (now Chamber Opera –

- Stage director, whose spectacles win world recognition for the combination of advanced-guard and traditional elements

- Director of the Sofia Opera and Ballet


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