Sofia National Opera

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sofia National Opera


the major musical theater of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. The theater opened in 1908. In 1910 it staged the first Bulgarian opera, E. Manolov’s The Beggar Woman. Originally called the Bulgarian Opera Society, the theater was taken over by the state and assumed its present name in 1921.

The Sofia National Opera was founded by several figures in Bulgarian music, including progressive D. Kazakov, I. Slavkov, and A. Bukoreshtliev, and by the prominent Bulgarian vocalists K. Mikhailov-Stoian, I. Vul’pe, and B. Giuzeleva-Vul’pe, who had all worked in Russia. The theater had a high-quality opera company as early as the 1930’s. It staged Bulgarian operas, as well as Russian and Western European classics. In 1937 it staged the first Bulgarian ballet, Kh. Manolov’s The Serpent and lana.

The Sofia National Opera has played an important role in the development of a national school of singing. Notable Bulgarian vocalists who have performed in it include Kh. Brumbarov, M. Vasileva, P. Dimitrov, I. Dimcheva, G. Donchev, S. Makedonski, N. Karova, Kh. Morfova, M. Popov, P. Raichev, K. Stoianova, Ts. Tabakova, A. Todorova, and B. Khristov (Christoff). After World War II (1939–45), the theater received considerable help from the Soviet directors B. A. Pokrovskii and E. N. Sokovnin and the Soviet choreographers N. A. Anisimova and N. S. Kholfin, who staged many works of Russian and Soviet composers.

By the early 1960’s, the Sofia National Opera had won fame as one of the world’s best theaters. Its wide repertoire includes many Bulgarian operas, for example, Vladigerov’s Tsar Kaloian (1936), Stoianov’s Salammbô (1940) and Cunning Peter (1958), Pipkov’s Momchil (1948) and Antigone 43 (1964), Goleminov’s Ivailo (1959), and Khadzhiev’s The Madman (1960). Bulgarian ballets in the theater’s repertoire include Raichev’s The Haiduk Song (1953), Vladigerov’s Legend of the Lake (1962), and Sa-gaev’s The Hungarian Horseman (1964).

Singers of the younger generation include N. Afeian, L. Bodurov, Iu. Viner, N. Giaurov (Ghiaurov), R. Kabaivanska, N. Nikolov, K. Popova, and D. Uzunov. A. Naidenev, People’s Artist of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria, has been principal conductor since 1946.

Since 1953 the theater has occupied a new building, with seating for 1,400. Since 1961 it has helped organize the Sofia International Competition of Young Opera Singers, the final round of which is held in the theater. The company has toured many European countries, including the USSR (1953,1969).


50 godini Narodna opera: lubileen sbornik. [Sofia, 1959.]
Opera v Bolgarii. Sofia, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
catalogue, a good lean performance by the Sofia National Opera on Monitor) uses Rimsky-Korsakov's version of the opera; the Met, to its credit, uses Shostakovich's more faithful realization of the unfinished piano score.