Four ministers from the caretaker government attended the premiere of the Sofia Opera and Ballet on Friday night – Rossini’s opera The Woman from the Lake, which opened the new summer stage near the Pancharevo Lake Rowing Base and launched the second summer festival “Muses on the water. “
The Minister of Economy Kiril Petkov, the Minister of Finance Asen Vassilev and the Minister of Transport Georgi Todorov, who came with their wives, as well as the Minister of Tourism Stella Baltova, who came with her two deputies, honored the Prime Minister, although Asen Vassilev and Kiril Petkov left. in the intermission.
Businessman Georgi Spasov, who is the main sponsor of the permanent summer stage, said in greetings before the show that “for 12 years a minister had not set foot in the opera, and now five came at once,” although this is not entirely true. While he was Minister of Culture, Vejdi Rashidov visited one of the performances of Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelung” during a tour of the opera in the German city of Füssen, and once attended the opera “Prince Igor” in the Sofia Opera House, but both times he left before the performances were over.
With the premiere of “The Woman from the Lake” begins a festival, which provides almost every night until early September on the shores of the lake to play opera and ballet performances and musicals. The audience will also see “Eugene Onegin”, “Madame Butterfly”, “Carmen”, the long-played “Village Honor” and “Gianni Skiki”, as well as the ballets “Swan Lake”, “Don Quixote” and “Tango” and the musicals ” Mama Mia ”and“ Shrek ”.
The new tribune was imported from Italy, has a capacity of about 1,100 seats and will remain in place permanently, and the local mayor’s office will use it for other cultural events. Especially for the Sofia Opera Festival, the municipality has built two new parking lots in addition to the existing ones, and a special shuttle minibus transports the audience from the last metro station to the place.
Rossini’s “Woman from the Lake” based on Andrea Totola’s libretto is staged for the first time in Bulgaria and is played relatively rarely around the world. It is a romantic opera based on Walter Scott’s poem of the same name, about battles and complex love and political affairs at the court of King James V of Scotland, long before Scotland became part of the United Kingdom. Like most of Rossini’s operas, it is spectacular to set, but extremely difficult to sing. The director, Acad. Plamen Kartalov, made a show intended only for an open stage – with fireworks, the arrival of the main character by boat from the lake itself, mechanical fairy-tale monsters and complex mechanized sets.
The musical part was entrusted to the Italian conductor Francesco Rosa, who is a relatively frequent guest of the Sofia Opera. The main role in the premiere performance – Elena, was played by the young Bulgarian opera singer Maria Radoeva, who in recent years has reaped a lot of success on Italian stages, mainly in Rossini’s repertoire, but is a soloist at the Opera House in Earl, Austria. Last summer, she shone like Eurydice in Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice on the stage of the Ancient Theater in Plovdiv, staged by Francesco Prodi, which was highly praised. Radoeva is one of the most prominent students in Raina Kabaivanska’s master classes, her voice is a rare combination of the strength and power of a mezzo-soprano and the lightness and grace of the highest sopranos (see more about Maria Radoeva here). The performance features two other young singers who went through the school of Raina Kabaivanska – the Venezuelan tenor Reynaldo Droz and the Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Vessela Yaneva, who has recently been among the soloists of the Sofia Opera.
The curious thing about this Rossini work is that in it the roles of both protagonists – Uberto and Rodrigo, are for high lyrical tenors and musically are so difficult to sing that they border on the impossible and this is probably the reason why it is rarely staged. At the premiere, the Argentine Francisco Brito and the Chilean Diego Godoy dealt with both parties.
Violeta Radomirska was Malcolm – according to the libretto Elena’s lover, whom she eventually married, and as a musician – a mezzo-soprano role. Since last season Violeta Radomirska is a soloist at the Sofia Opera and Ballet, before that she worked in Switzerland. She advocates a very diverse repertoire – Carmen, Olga in “Eugene Onegin” and other mezzo-soprano roles. At Friday’s premiere, he drew a lot of applause with Malcolm’s two main arias.
One of the favorites of the Sofia audience, although known from a completely different repertoire – Peter Buchkov, was Douglas, Elena’s father. Buchkov is the winner of the Crystal Lyre Award for 2018 for his role of Georgi Groznyk in “Ioannina’s Nine Brothers”, which is one of his strongest incarnations in recent years.