“THE RING” EXPLAINED TO ALL
Andrea Merli, l’Opera Magazine, July-August 2012
The first Tetralogy in the original language at the Sofia Opera reached its second day, “Siegfried”. As always we remain amazed at the presence of two casts, but so it is –Bulgaria is generous and wonderful treasure trove of voices. Tenor Martin Iliev was the talented Siegmund in “Die Walküre”. There he emphasized, justifiably, the lyricism of the young man in love rather than the impetuosity of the warrior, using a nice bright timbre with an outstanding musicality. Now he achieved a remarkable change in interpretation by presenting a spirited young man with a sharp tone and emphasis – the music consultant Richard Trimborn has done a great job – and then, in the third act, acquiring an overwhelming passion in the song with Brünnhilde. This is the soprano Bayasgalan Dashnyam, who has a striking projection of sound. Her heights, timbred and attacked in full voice, act as strikes of a sword. The two bass-baritones (Wotan and Alberich) we admired two years ago in “Das Rheingold”. Martin Tsonev sings with softness, unusual for the role of Wotan. He manages to be imperious, always with a focused and powerful look, as well as tempting and eloquent at the times when the multifaceted part requires it. Biser Georgiev, an outstanding Alberich, has a remarkable range, a valuable colour with dark male timbre and exceptional acting talent, allowing him to sing in positions contrary to any breathing rules. The smart young tenor Krassimir Dinev, forced to sing upside down with his rough brother pulling him, made Mime a personal creation that won the sympathy of the audience. He has a voice entirely accurate and distinctive, far from turning his character into a caricature. And finally – the soprano Antonia Ivanova, airy and leaping up and down above the stage, the deep voice of Angel Hristov’s Fafner, and the considerable sonority of Diana Genova in the brief but intense role of Erda.
Laudable were the efforts of the orchestra – justly called up on stage to share the thundering applause. It is continuously growing and has already achieved a beautiful specificity of its own. An excellent performance of the entire group of brass instruments, but also strong and in good harmony were the woodwind instruments. Praise goes to conductor Pavel Baleff who follows his individual and shared narrative thread away from the noisy accents, rather with chamber features, giving priority to and highlighting individual instruments – all in one homogenous sound amalgam.
The performance takes full advantage of the imaginative and also daring design and the bright, completely abstract costumes of Nikolay Panayotov, as well as the hyper didactic direction of Plamen Kartaloff. It is a courageous decision to stage the Tetralogy “explained to the people”, starting with a description of the preceding events: Sieglinde gives birth in the woods amidst a fierce storm; the newborn, stolen by the Nibelung dwarf, then turns into Siegfried, literally seen as he grows up in a fast rhythm, crossing the forestage in a wild flight. The mother, often called upon, materializes as a shadow – a ghost, which transforms itself, finally, into the beloved wife. A little naive? May be. It is, however, a valid alternative to many psycho-Freudian overtones. Wonderful result in every respect.