photo: Rusalen Mihailov

The musical as a genre is still a new concept for the Bulgarian theater scene, despite more frequent attempts by well-known authors and titles. Up to this point, I had not watched a well-performed musical at the same time singing, dancing and mostly theatrical.


The complexity of putting on a musical in Bulgaria comes from the fact that jazz dance and jazz singing are poorly developed. Our artists lack sufficient preparation for this typically American style, which, by the way, is not at all as easy to perform as it seems. For a classical dancer, for example, it takes a lot of time and work to break the movements of his body, make them free, playful and master the art of rhythm and getting out of it, which is a key element in jazz. The same goes for singing. In addition, Bulgarian directors think of the performances as either operatic or dramatic, which implies that either singing will be a major element of the performance and the theatrical play will simply be a transition from one aria to another, or vice versa.


However, on November 19 at the National Theater, the audience saw something radically different. The musical "Kiss Me, Kate," by Cole Porter (a big name in the genre, unfortunately not well known in our country) at the Burgas State Opera, was a perfect combination of singing, dance and theatrical play, with real Broadway sound. The director-director Alexander Tekeliev made a remarkable performance for a short time, which did not leave the audience indifferent. What I liked most was that the soloists, the choir, and the ballet played equally - neither of them was at the expense of the other, all the artists played at a high level. The performance was staged so that there were no bright stars and minor roles - the whole team was one. The individual scenes were flowing, without pauses or interruptions, and the artists showed enviable talent in their transformation from one role to another.


For the uninitiated reader, I must make it clear that the musical enters into itself two storylines at the same time - that of actors and spouses in the life of Fred Graham and Lily Vanessa (Alfred Lunt and Lyn Fontane of the movie "Shrew", who are the actual inspiration for the musical) and the one by Petruccio and Catharine from William Shakespeare's Tame the Weasel - the performance they rehearse. Marcho Apostolov and Edelina Kaneva in the lead roles skillfully jumped from two radically different styles of play and transferred us either to Broadway or to the English Shakespeare Theater. The very complicated game that not everyone is comfortable with, they executed with ease requiring respect. The audience appreciated their play and especially the applause of Marcho Apostolov's bows, who once again showed that he brilliantly manages the theatrical play and is at least as good an actor as a singer. The young conductor Tsanislav Petkov, who delivered with an extremely precise sense, mood and lightness, gave me a very pleasant impression, which gave the musical that finish, which is inherent only in performances at the highest level.


To tell us more about the show and its work on it, I introduce you to Marcho Apostolov, who once again confirmed his name as a great artist.

photo: Rusalen Mihailov

"Kiss Me, Kate" is a big title in the musical genre. What does Fred / Petruchio's role mean to you?


A happy discovery and a great gift from fate - six of the Totto!


First of all, it is a complex and multi-layered character whose image presents serious human problems. I rarely come across such a rich image, a major character who is both a resonator and a commentator on all events in the action. The author's perspective presents him in dramatic and comical situations - some banal, others unusual, which allow the deployment of a vast, almost unlimited toolkit of acting skills and gadgets. Such an opportunity satisfies that eternally insatiable cast, and since the vocal task is respectable enough, it additionally brings to the singer within me the professional satisfaction that I have been striving for since I got on stage 25 years ago.


Such an effect, of course, cannot be achieved without the "right" director, conductor, choreographer, artist and colleagues whose talented "company" I owe my meeting to Fred Graham and his Petruchio, and to whom I am truly and utterly grateful. Perhaps this is the most friendly and positive work atmosphere in which this performance was born, to me, is the strongest and most significant circumstance in it.

photo: Rusalen Mihailov

The show sounds and looks quite Broadway. Style and choreography are definitely beyond the scope of "Bulgarian". How long did you work on it?


The deadlines were absurd in comparison with world and even Bulgarian standards. From the day of our first meeting until the date of the premiere, there were exactly 36 calendar days. They include weekends and holidays ... The sound and visual result, however, are the result of the remarkably accurate hits in the selection and manner of production of the production and production team.


The real responsibility and, accordingly, the great credit goes to Alexander Tekeliev - director of the Bourgas Opera and director of the show, as well as to Edelina Kaneva, who is the inspirer of the project. She has made and administers contact with the London-based music house, which owns the copyright of Europe on Cole Porter's works, is a translator of the musical text and is the title artist. For the first time in my work, I saw a real symbiosis between director, choreographer, conductor and artist. Everyone was ready to give up their original idea for the sake of the constructive, and common decisions and corrections only improved the result while at the same time more and more motivating all participants. From the sarcastic smiles in the early days of rehearsals, at least because of the claim of the genre's "big bite" and the lack of sufficient routine in the Burgas opera ensemble in the stylistics of the great "musical" form, I witnessed unprecedented enthusiasm for the premiere and subsequently . He also accompanied us to the performance at the National Theater in Sofia.


I do not want to sound like a final instance and evaluate each of the members of the production team, but my impressions are excellent and the result itself speaks for their high level. Perhaps, if I have to comment on my comfort with regard to plastic image construction, I would like to express my great pleasure in working with the director Mr. Tekeliev and in my long awaited creative meeting with Zhelka Tabakova. Both proved to be remarkable masters in their work and true connoisseurs of the specifics of plastic-spatial expression in music-stage genres!

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Did you find it difficult while working on the show and what was it?


If I can talk about difficulties at all, they would be related only to the above mentioned short deadlines, the unbearable heat in Burgas during the working period, and mainly to my efforts to keep myself healthy, because I was rehearsing myself for the role and the fatigue was great. As for the objective complexity of the task, without too much modesty, I think it turned out to be the exact "glove for my hand". Of course, not everything has been clarified and given to me from the first moment, but it is the normal process of our work. There are probably many more undiscovered and unrealized shades of the image. I continue to deepen my relationship with my character. However, I believe I have passed the conditional Rubicon because I feel "in my skin" like Fred, or he just looks like Marcho.


For a singer, it is usually most important to show his voice on stage. Does your singing ego suffer when the performances you participate in require more theater play than singing?

Lately I've had a lot of appearances in chamber vocal concerts, which are something new to my practice. I have found that, even in this purely singular expression, the actor's "component" is decisive, but in the name of the "complex" of qualities. In fact, "pure vocalization" in front of an audience does not exist. When it comes to forcing a singer to play only spoken roles or a dramatic actor to perform vocal tasks that are incomprehensible to his skills, the negative reaction is first and foremost from the audience. The works that I have been privileged to play on stage in the last 25 years do not suggest such dissatisfaction. For a long time, I realized this peculiarity of synthetic genres and learned that satisfaction in acting and singing did not have a specific proportional dimension. The task is always both singing and acting. The important thing for an artist is to do what he or she feels capable of doing, and to decode the audience objectively. As long as there are, of course.


Did you notice a difference in the response of the audience in Sofia and Burgas?


Each audience is different and it is interesting to explore its reactions, given the difference in knowledge of the traditions of the respective genre. The level and preparedness of the audience should not be underestimated because it is our direct addressee and a real corrective. At the beginning of the performance in Sofia, the audience was more frugal in their reactions than the Burgas, which gave us a heartfelt response from the first scenes, but the final approval was equivalent.


You have worked on many titles, which are bigger and more respectable. What did the "Kiss Me, Kate" musical teach you?

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Teach me that there is always more to learn. As knowledge of both the profession and life and myself, if you will. Jazz in itself is a breakdown of stereotypes, pleasure of pleasure, fun of fun. Life and existence in the theater are valuable when you realize that ripple beyond ripple and learn to appreciate it. I am grateful for this lesson!


Who is your biggest critic?


Family, teachers and friends.


What is your biggest success?


Family, teachers and friends.

Is there a role you wanted to play but didn't yet?


Yes. The one that fate decided to offer me. I learned to trust providence. I don't remember wishing for roles. I count on his choice. My dreams were related to roles in the opera repertoire, and mostly not suitable for my voice type. It happened that I discovered the operetta and the musical in an extremely unpredictable way. I think, if I have another go on stage, I will continue the same way…


Tell us some curious funny story from the preparation of the musical! I know every theater is full of them.

Photo: personal archive

The rehearsals were in Burgas throughout the month of August and at every free time with my colleagues we were on the beaches. The most fun was when we went to the famous Burgas salt pans and covered ourselves with the famous healing mud.


You teach at the Music Academy "Prof. Pancho Vladigerov ". Does teaching help give you feedback on your own singing, successes and failures, if any?


Undoubtedly, this is a different view of a process that you perceived as already well known and routinized in it (in the bad sense of the word). The sobering influence of the new point of view gives you a different stability and a sense of different personality that you have yet to consolidate. Starting something new on a relatively stable life status is a special gift of a lifetime. Instead of fading into your own self-delusion for some pseudo-level, you grow again! And yes - it helps! Definitely!


How do you define your career? Are you satisfied with the achievement?


I'm a professional lucky guy! I dreamed of singing on stage - singing on stage. I dreamed of playing in big and complex performances - playing. I dreamed of learning from great artists - the scene met me with such. I dreamed of meeting bright acting and music talents and working together - meeting. To be honest - even the vague contours of my professional dreams come true and in my realization reveal my exact parameters. I expected nothing more from myself.


What would you like to learn about future Bulgarian singers?


To sing and celebrate music for the privilege of touching the truly valuable in life. To be motivated not by their own or others' success or failure, but by the infinite purpose and the unattainable perfection.

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