Bulgarian opera diva Raina Kabaivanska is back in Bulgaria for her 16th international master class which includes fourteen young singers from Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, the Czech Republic, Chile, Korea and Puerto Rico. By a tradition it ends with a gala concert with their participation. This year there are two concerts – in Sofia on September 28 and in Plovdiv on September 29, together with the orchestra of the Sofia Opera house with conductor Naiden Todorov. In Sofia, Kabaivanska was given a standing ovation. Her first words here were: “Thank you for your love of young performers. When the audience give of their emotions, the artist responds in kind. That is something I have been aware of for a long time and something I cherish.” She added that for years she had had master classes in two countries – Italy and Bulgaria and will continue to seek out musical talents who carry the torch of art. Raina Kabaivanska granted bursaries to the best of her master class students.
A renowned singer from the famed Bulgarian singing school, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic, voted most popular person in Italy five times, Musician of the Year twice, holder of a “Career Oscar” at the International Opera Oscar Awards, as a pedagogue Raina Kabaivanska gives her students the support they need to go on with their education and carve out a career for themselves on the opera stage. During the rehearsals for the master class final concerts, Radio Bulgaria’s Elena Tsvetkova met with two of her students:
“My name is Daniela Nineva and I am from Stara Zagora, but have been living in L’Aquila, Italy for six years where I have been studying opera singing. It has been an old dream of mine to take part in a Raina Kabaivanska master class. I am so happy I made it into the class and I am very pleased with everything –with what I learnt and the friends I made, all of them nice and talented people.”
Marin Yonchev is also 26 and people in Bulgaria will remember him as the winner in the TV show Star Academy. At that time he was graduating the Music School in Plovdiv. Marin has been performing on stage since he was four, but he sang songs by Elvis Presley, Freddy Mercury and Whitesnake.
“It is only recently I started singing opera,” says Marin Yonchev. “I work mostly with Raina Kabaivanska and that is a great honour. Before that I studied at the Geneva Conservatoire. Of course my sister, Sonya Yoncheva who is an opera singer has been a great help to me. For many years I sang pop and rock, but opera is the love of my life – I am now entirely devoted to it. Last year I sat in as a listener at Raina Kabaivanska’s master class. In time she said we could work together more actively. I trust her entirely – if she says something must be done I know she is 100 percent right. There is so much we can learn from her, that is why we are here.”
The cultural programme is organized by New Bulgarian University and it includes an exhibition of art photographs of memorable moments in her career which opens on September 30. The photographs have been collected from the opera theatres where Raina Kabaivanska has performed – the Metropolitan, Covent Garden, La Scala. One series of photos shows the beauty of her roles on opera stages, another goes behind the scenes with some of the greatest names in opera – Karajan, Callas, Carreras, Domingo. The exhibition also features stage costumes designed especially for the prima.
The gala concert at Teatro Regio di Parma, Italy on October 25 is dubbed “In honour of Raina Kabaivanska”. The premiere of her biographical album-book is on December 16. But the high point in the programme, dedicated to Raina Kabaivanska’s 80th birthday will be the concert at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia on December 18 with students of hers with a world career performing in the charity event.
English version: Milena Daynova