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 Bulgarian Operas

portrait Pancho Vladigerov

13 March 1899, Zurich - 8 September 1978, Sofia

From 1910 to 1912, Vladigerov studied at the Sofia Music School. Thereafter, at the Berlin Hochschule, he attended masterclasses in composition. He won the Mendelssohn Prize in 1918 and in 1920 and worked for Max Reinhardt at the Deutsches Theater, Berlin, as a pianist, composer and conductor (1921-32) before returning to Bulgaria to teach at the Sofia Academy of Music where he remained until his retirement in 1972.

A spontaneous, expansive musician, Vladigerov composed in a wide variety of genres. His works are distinguished above all by a virtuosos compositional technique, and are high-spirited, colorful and lustrous, while yet abounding in pathos, and increasingly influenced by the rhythms, meters and melodic and tonal features of Bulgarian folk music.

Vladigerov wrote one opera, Tsar Kaloyan (to a libretto by Nikolai Liliev and Fani Popova-Mutafova), in which he enriched the tradition of Bulgarian historical opera of the 1930s and demonstrated a new approach to grand opera style. The action takes place in the 13th century in the old Bulgarian capital Turnovo. The main dramatic and lyrical episodes depict the victory of the Bulgarians over the Latins, the love story of Maria (Kaloyan's wife) and the death of Baldwin (Latin emperor), interspersed with scenes from the everyday life of the people. Tsar Kaloyan was first performed at the National Opera of Sofia on May 20, 1936.