Gregor Tassie in conversation with soprano Mariana Zvetkova

The Bulgarian soprano Mariana Zvetkova talks to Gregor Tassie about her career One of the most outstanding singers from the 2023 Ring cycle in Sofia was the distinguished soprano Mariana Zvetkova. She has enjoyed a major worldwide career over several decades and was cast in the first Sofia Ring cycle in 2013 and was Fricka in Das Rheingold in Plamen Kartaloff’s … Read more

Gregor Tassie in conversation with soprano Ayla Dobreva

Sofia Opera’s Woodbird Ayla Dobreva talks to Gregor Tassie

Ayla Dobreva

Apart from the stupendous production standards, a great deal of the acclaim for the 2023 Plamen Kartaloff Ring cycle was for the singers in the roles of Wotan, Brünnhilde and Hagen, but the coloratura soprano Ayla Dobreva as the Woodbird provided one of the most striking performances in Siegfried. Dobreva performed in all four operas of the cycle; firstly, as Woglinde in the opening scene of Das Rheingold singing when soaring on a trampoline, in Die Walküre, she was Helmwige mounted on one of eight red horses of the Valkyries, and finally challenging Alberich in the closing scene in Götterdämmerung. She was also one of the Flower Maidens in Parsifal, but it was her spectacular entry on a trapeze that made the biggest impression of all.

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Gregor Tassie in conversation with mezzo-soprano Gergana Rusekova

The Bulgarian mezzo-soprano Gergana Rusekova talks to Gregor Tassie

Gergana Rusekova

Among the outstanding performances of the 2023 Wagner Festival in Sofia were those of the Brünnhilde in Die Walkure and the Kundry in Parsifal given by the young mezzo-soprano Gergana Rusekova. In my review of Die Walküre, I wrote, ‘Immediately, we are aware of the striking vocal gifts and personality of Gergana Rusekova, ‘Vater! Vater! Sage, was ist dir?’ And a couple of weeks later, in Parsifal, she was even more impressive, ‘The Kundry of Gergana Rusekova was world-class in both singing and characterisation – every word was clear and beautiful at times when revealing her plight and in other scenes of her lustful desire.’

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Gregor Tassie in conversation with conductor Constantin Trinks

The German conductor Constantin Trinks talks to Gregor Tassie

Constantin Trinks © Marco Borggreve

The Sofia Opera and Ballet company’s Wagner Festival staged seven operas during July this year; six of which including the Ring cycle were conducted by Constantin Trinks, over just six days! This workload would break many musicians, yet Trinks took it all in his stride despite the often-intensive heatwave which hit Bulgaria this summer – often temperatures were touching 37ºC outside. Despite all of this, he directed outstanding performances achieving the maximum results from his singers, chorus and musicians.

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Gregor Tassie in conversation with soprano Iordanka Derilova

Gregor Tassie talks to Sofia Opera’s Iordanka Derilova about her career and her return to performing in Bulgaria

Iordanka Derilova

One of the highlights of the recent Sofia Ring cycle was the outstanding performance of the dramatic soprano Iordanka Derilova – both for her superb vocal talents and her complete characterisation as Brünnhilde. I had seen her Brünnhilde before in the Blu-ray recording of the first Sofia Ring in 2013of which I wrote, ‘Derilova as Brünnhilde displays extraordinary stamina and vocal strength, and acting make her the star of the show.’ I was surprised that I had not heard her before, yet the Kammersängerin – who is the leading soprano in Dessau, has been singing on some of Europe’s finest theatres since 1998.

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Gregor Tassie in conversation with tenor Daniel Ostretsov

Gregor Tassie talks to Sofia Opera’s Daniel Ostretsov about his career and opera in Bulgaria

Daniel Ostretsov

My first acquaintance with the singers of the Sofia Opera was watching films of the first Ring cycle from 10 years ago, and apart from the innovative and often sensational staging by Plamen Kartaloff, one of the singers that I noticed was in Das Rheingold. ‘Daniel Ostretsov’s Loge is brilliant in voice and acting with a suitably apt costume.’  I was recently fortunate to meet up with Daniel between his Ring performances and The Flying Dutchman, the concluding opera of the 2023 Sofia Wagner Festival.

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The revival of Plamen Kartaloff’s Tristan und Isolde is another triumph for the Sofia Opera Company

BulgariaBulgaria Wagner, Tristan und Isolde: Soloists, Dancers, Chorus and Orchestra of Sofia Opera and Ballet / Constantin Trinks (conductor). Sofia Opera and Ballet Theatre, 23.7.2023. (GT)

Sofia Opera and Ballet Theatre’s Tristan und Isolde (Act II)

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