Bulgarian professional operetta celebrates its centennial

“Chicago”, by Bob Foss, staged in Bulgaria’s Music Theater for the first time in 2013
Photo: musictheatre.bg

Sofia’s Music Theatre will mark on February 10and 11the 100th anniversary since the first professional operetta show in Bulgaria. On 10 February 1918 former soloist of the Shumen Operetta Society Angel Sladkarov gathered in the capital the first professional operetta troupe. He presented with it Rudolf Dellinger’s Die Chansonette. Being aware of the patriarchal times that he lived in, Sladkarov was clever enough to change the title to Marquise Bonnelli. Literally on the eve of the opening night he invited Petar Konstantinov Stoichev to become the director. The show had huge success and the hall of the former Odeon Cinema, situated on Maria Luiza Blvd. was full through all the 10 nights.

Mimi Balkanska in The Csárdás PrincessLater on Angel Sladkarov participated in shows with the Sofia-based Free Theatre. He would also remain in history as a figure greatly engaged with cultural activities who built up major cultural relations between Bulgaria and Germany. He also brought from there numerous audio items and organized the recording of gramophone records in Bulgaria. His work in the sound recording sphere was inherited by the Balkanton state-run company after 1944 (the introduction of the socialist regime). Sladkarov also discovered some of the stars of the Bulgarian operetta stage, Mimi Balkanska among them. He established several private operetta troupes through the years, but unfortunately those all went bankrupt.

The son of Angel Sladkarov gives us curious details about his father’s personality:

“His charisma was incredible. The artist who painted his portrait restored the honor and memory of my father, since a portrait of his can be seen at the Friedrichstadt-Palast in Berlin, but we don’t have it here… Thanks to the understanding of the new director of the operetta theatre, the commemorative plaque and the portrait are now ready. Pavel Mitkov is the artist and he said: I have painted Levski, but it is really challenging with this person here: the charisma is very strong!”

The artists of the Free Theater on tour - 1920

Angel Sladkarov in The Gypsy BaronOn Sunday, February 11th the memory of Angel Sladkarov will be honored for the first time via the solemn placing of a commemorative plaque and his portrait in the Music Theatre in Sofia. His son will present a second, supplemented edition of his father’s memoirs. The event will continue with a concert in tribute to the memory of Angel Sladkarov. The theatre’s actors will play The Gypsy Baron – the operetta that will remember his emblematic participation as the major character.

The night before a festive concert marking the centennial of Bulgaria’s professional operetta is to take place. The program includes again fragments of The Gypsy Baron /Strauss/, but also fragments of Lehar’s The Merry Widow; The Csárdás Princess of Kálmán; Cats of Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Kiss Me, Kate of Cole Porter and Old Time’s Bulgarians of Asen Karastoyanov.

“February 10th was the date of Marquise Bonnelli’s opening night and that had been considered the first operetta show ever in Bulgaria since then. In the following period up to the establishment of the Music Theatre in its current format there have been other nine private operetta troupes. There were even nights prior to their unification under the Music Theatre that we know, when the same play was presented simultaneously by different formations and the halls were full…” Head of Sofia’s Musical Theatre Mariana Arsenova says

So, over two consecutive days the operetta actors and the fans of their art will recall the roots of the genre in Bulgaria and will celebrate the centennial here of the ‘most positive music stage art’ – as Mrs. Arsenova classifies it.

English version:
Zhivko Stanchev


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