EUROPOST- 1 March, 2013 Director of Sofia Opera and Ballet, Prof. Plamen Kartalov: Sofia makes Wagner s dream come true

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1 March, 2013 Director of Sofia Opera and Ballet, Prof. Plamen Kartalov: Sofia makes Wagner s dream come true The complete four-opera Ring Cycle is performed in the Balkans for the first time

Geor­gi P. Dim­it­rov Close-up: Aca­de­mi­cian Pla­men Kar­ta­lov is Direct­or of Sofia Opera and Bal­let. He grad­u­at­ed from the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Music and then stud­ied opera direct­ing in Ger­ma­ny and film direct­ing at National Academy of Theatre and F­ilm Arts, Sofia. His high and invent­ive apti­tude cov­ers a wide range of styles and com­pos­ers. As an under­grad­u­ate he found­ed the first cham­ber opera house here, now the Cham­ber Opera in Bla­go­ev­grad. Staged inno­va­tive oper­at­ic pro­duc­tions in the USA, Egypt, Aus­tral­ia, Greece, Ser­bia, Cro­a­tia, Roma­nia, Poland, the Czech Repub­lic, Hun­ga­ry, Tur­key, Ger­ma­ny, Switz­er­land, Bra­zil, Japan. – Mr. Kar­ta­lov, are the prep­a­ra­tions for the fourth opera of the Ring Cycle well under way? – The four-opera Ring Cycle is a saga, which takes indom­i­ta­ble cour­age to stage as each of the four oper­as can be per­formed on its own. Wagn­er made his dream to have them staged in suc­ces­sion come true on 13 August 1886 in Bay­reuth. It means focus­ing on this dra­ma – 15 hours of music, which is a pains­tak­ing effort. My ambi­tion was to stage the Ring with Bul­gar­i­an per­form­ers alone. Any opera house around the world that would per­form the com­plete Ring Cycle with its own resour­ces faces a grave risk. I held seri­ous audi­tions and found the right sing­ers. I’d elab­o­rate that we have such a coach like Rich­ard Trim­born, head coach of the Bava­ri­an State Opera. He has worked togeth­er with such con­duct­ors as Karl Boehm, Wolf­gang Saw­al­lisch, Her­bert von Kar­a­jan, who have become a hall­mark of world oper­at­ic art. Ini­tial­ly, he doubt­ed Bul­gar­ia’s abil­i­ty to select such a set of per­form­ers, but com­ing here, he found that we were on the right track and he has been con­trib­ut­ing to the stag­ings for four years now. We staged an opera of the cycle every year: Das Rhe­in­gold (The Rhin­e­gold) in 2010; Die Walk­ure (The Ride of the Val­kyr­i­es) in 2011; Sieg­fried in 2012 and now Gott­er­dam­mer­ung (Twi­light of the Gods). I did not know that La Sca­la did the same: they will pre­miere Gott­er­dam­mer­ung on 17 May; while on 24 May they start show­ing the com­plete four-opera cycle. We will be the first in the Bal­kans to per­form the four oper­as on 22, 23, 26 and 29 June, i.e. the Ring is to be shown over four nights in a row, as Wagn­er intend­ed. – Will the vision of Gott­er­dam­mer­ung be brought up to date? – The vision of this pro­duc­tion will be a con­tin­u­a­tion of the con­cept of the pre­ce­ding three oper­as. We build up the com­plete epic of four oper­as using the same ele­ments. We add to or take away from the ring onstage depend­ing on the curse. The ring car­ries with it a cor­rupt­ing curse and has to be brought back into the riv­er, where it belongs and where peace and qui­et of the uni­verse is so as to com­plete the entire dra­ma proc­ess. We take great pride in our pro­duc­tion. ­ – How come you took to stag­ing Wagn­er, most of your pred­e­ces­sors focused on bel can­to, on Ital­ian, French and Rus­sian oper­as? – Wagn­er him­self dreamt of the force of bel can­to, that is of beau­ti­ful and express­ive sing­ing what bel can­to means. With Wagn­er we have melod­i­cism and con­ti­nu­i­ty of music lan­guage, which require agil­i­ty and sing­ing long lines, i.e. sing­ing with sus­tained full voice. Being a direct­or, I find grat­i­fi­ca­tion in the task to see Bul­gar­i­an oper­at­ic prac­tice brought clos­er at long last to the coun­tries boast­ing great tra­di­tions in the field of opera and Sofia to be priv­i­leged and respon­si­ble for tack­ling this mate­ri­al. We are fit for the most chal­leng­ing Wag­ne­ri­an rep­er­toire. All the three oper­as came to show that we relate to the best Wag­ne­ri­an mate­ri­al or so Aus­tri­an, Ger­man and now Rus­sian review­ers think. They even defined our pro­duc­tions as much bet­ter than those of opera hous­es with estab­lished Wag­ne­ri­an tra­di­tions. I do not feel flat­ter­ed and I am not pre­sump­tu­ous, but I am hap­py that Bul­gar­i­ans suc­ceed­ed in attract­ing atten­tion with these par­tic­u­lar pro­duc­tions for review­ers’ emo­tions are not biased in favour of a par­tic­u­lar nation. Tak­ing to Wagn­er’s oper­as, we com­bined our chil­dren’s naiv­ety and inno­cence with adult pro­fi­cien­cy. It was vital as until then Sofia Opera had been stu­pen­dous and nota­ble for its Rus­sian and Ital­ian rep­er­toire. Now, with the Wag­ne­ri­an rep­er­toire we expli­cat­ed anoth­er aspect with the same sing­ers, who sang in Japan Tos­ca, Caval­ler­ia Rus­ti­cana, Gian­ni Schic­chi, La Boheme, Don Car­lo, Rig­o­let­to, Oth­e­llo, La Gio­con­da, Turan­dot. But then we have Boris Christ­off, who sang Par­si­fal in La Sca­la. The best Wag­ne­ri­an sing­er, Spas Ven­kov is a Bul­gar­i­an. We have Anna Tom­owa-Sin­tow to men­tion just a few of the excel­lent Wag­ne­ri­an per­form­ers. Let then have a new gen­er­a­tion teach­ing a les­son of a the­a­tre of inter­na­tion­al sig­nif­i­cance! This project gains fur­ther inter­na­tion­al pres­tige for Bul­gar­i­an music cul­ture. – Should we expect Bul­gar­i­ans liv­ing abroad to sing in Gott­er­dam­mer­ung? – Yes, you should. I invit­ed all Bul­gar­i­ans, both resid­ing here and abroad to the audi­tion. A major sing­er is Mar­tin Tzon­ev, who plays Wot­an and lives in Bonn. But where would all we be with­out our Bul­gar­i­an sing­ers Kosta­din Andreev, Mar­tin Iliev, Mari­ana Tsvet­ko­va, Bla­go­ves­ta Mek­ki, Niko­lay Pav­lov, Niko­lay Pet­rov, Pla­men Papaz­ik­ov, Kras­im­ir Din­ev: they are all per­form­ers that deserve to be acclaimed both by me and the audi­en­ces. There are 48 solo­ists tak­ing part in the four-opera Wagn­er’s cycle, all of them Bul­gar­i­ans in the prime of their careers; with Ger­man con­duct­or Erich Vekh­ter we per­formed Sieg­fried at the third Minsk Inter­na­tion­al Christ­mas Opera Forum and had a great suc­cess. Until recent­ly we did a good job with con­duct­or Pavel Bal­ev, also liv­ing in Ger­ma­ny. The­a­tre design­er is Niko­lai Pan­ay­ot­ov, who lives in Par­is.

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