Accents in FOBA 2020
27 November – 10 December
The Festival of the Opera and Ballet Arts (FOBA) – Stara Zagora is the first specialized forum for opera and ballet in Bulgaria. It was created in 1967 as December Music Evenings and in 1973 it was renamed the Festival of the Opera and Ballet Arts. From 1974 to 1989, the National Review of the Opera and Ballet Arts was held within its framework. The social changes after 1989 and the fire in 1991 led to three interruptions of the Festival in 1990, 2010 and 2013. During the current 2020 FOBA, regardless of the complicated epidemic situation, will hold its 51st edition. Within the span of two weeks, from 27 November to 10 December, the connoisseurs of the opera will have the opportunity to enjoy diverse events: opera spectacles, ballet, concerts, film presentations and celebrating important anniversaries of respectable Bulgarian creators. For the purpose, the organizers have taken the necessary anti-epidemic measures. The capacity of the halls is limited within the regulated possibilities.
The opening of the Festival, on 27 November, with the premiere of “Un ballo in maschera” by Giuseppe Verdi, will be with the special participation of Zeljko Lukic – one of the leading world baritones, together with Kamen Chanev.
On the next day, beside the second spectacle of “Un ballo in maschera”, there will be a meeting with the opera prima Evdokiya Zdravkova-Horozova. In the established festival format “Meeting with an Autograph”, Svetlana Dimitrova will present the rich performance biography of the eminent Bulgarian soprano, illustrated with numerous opinions by respected music critics and video fragments of the participation of Evdokiya Zdravkova-Horozova.
On 29 November, on the Sunday afternoon, the guests to the Festival will visit two events under the sign of the Bulgarian intangible heritage, creative work and performing arts. The exhibition “The Bulgarian Woman and the Magic of the Traditional Crafts and Rites”, curator Irina Dilkova, presents unique images, preserved on glass photo plaques. A special highlight will be the 40-minute long author’s film “Treasures in the Heart”. And then the dance spectacle “The Song of the Planets” to music by Emelina Gorcheva, director Kalina Bogoeva, and the special participation of Valya Balkanska and piper Petar Yanev, will complement the suggestions with modern artistic projections.
In the year when the world marks the 250 anniversary of Beethoven, Vera Nemirova and Sonya Nemirova will share on 30 November in the hall of the Regional Library “Zahariy Knyazheski” their impressions from the meetings with the work of the great German composer. Some years ago, Sonya Nemirova debuted in Germany playing Leonore in the opera by Beethoven “Fidelio”. She has also many times performed the soprano part in the Ninth Symphony by Beethoven. Vera Nemirova, as a director, has completed two productions of “Fidelio” – in Graz and Prague. At the beginning of the year, Vera Nemirova won the award of the Public Radio of Germany in the competition “A Letter to Beethoven”.
This year as well, the Festival of the Opera and Ballet Arts – Stara Zagora will continue the several-year long tradition of including a participation by a foreign opera troupe. On 1 December the National Opera Theater of Belgrade will present as a concert the opera “Norma” by Vincenzo Bellini. The troupe will guest-perform in Stara Zagora with its best soloists in the performance of one of the best examples of the Italian bel canto. The concert format is imposed by the strict anti-epidemic restriction in Serbia, which allow public presentation of opera spectacles only in a concert form. Conductor will be Dejan Savic – one of the leading conductors in neighboring Serbia.
Another highlight in the festival program, which the organizers traditionally follow, is related to the Bulgarian music works. In 2020, we mark 80 years since the birth of Alexander Yossifov, who left us four years ago. On 3 December, in an exhibition jointly with the Museum for History of the Radio of the Sofia University, his varied work will be presented – an author of many musical and scenic works, as a long-time director of the Festival of the Opera and Ballet Arts and as a director of “Balkanton”. For the first time, there will be shown scenes with Boris Christoff during the recordings in the cathedral of “St Alexander Nevsky”. The memory of Alexander Yossifov will be completed with the presentation of an author’s film by Magdalena Manolova.
On 4 December, for the first time in Stara Zagora, bass Ivaylo Dzhurov and pianist Denitsa Petrova will present one of the climaxes of the vocal aesthetic music – “Winterreise” (“Winter Journey”) to music by Franz Schubert and lyrics by Wilhelm Müller.
Besides the anguish of the consequences of the epidemic, in 2020 the Ruse State Opera was struck by a heavy incident. The fire led to additional problems of the respectable opera troupe. Regardless of the obstacles, the Ruse citizens found the opportunity to accomplish one new premiere of an intriguing title with an international production team. “Gianni Schicchi” is the last part of the opera Triptych by Puccini “Il tabarro” and “Suor Angelica”. The plot is based on the 30th song of the poem “Divine Comedy” (1320) by the Medieval Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321). The author of the libretto, created with an agility to be envied and captivating with its graceful sense of humor is Giovacchino Forzano (1883 – 1970).
The closing of the Festival will be marked by the premiere of the masterpiece by Tchaikovsky “The Sleeping Beauty”. The scenic adaptation belongs to Andrei Bossov – performer and choreographer with an impressive career in Russia, the USA and many other countries. “The Sleeping Beauty” is the best classical ballet in terms of music and choreography. Marius Petipa manages to gather in one the whole lyrical gracefulness with the thrill of the dramatic actions”, says Andrei Bossov.