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 Bulgarian Operas


Pipkov Momchil

Sofia National Opera in Moscow - 1953 - Konstantin Iliev (c)

Character    Artist
Momchil    Dimitar Uzunov
Sabo    Georgi Genov
Elena    Katia Georgieva
Efrosina    Jordanka Dimcheva
Hubavela    Ludmila Maksimova
Raiko    Traicho Vatashki
Batul    Kosta Getzov
Holahoida    Atanas Tashev
Emil    Nikola Dikov
Boliarin    Boris I. Christov
Diado Kuzman    Vladimir Jeliazov


Momchil is a name widely used in Bulgaria. It was held by several leaders of important Bulgarian public riots, one of whom lived during the Ottoman rule (which lasted almost five centuries, ending in 1878). Another (the hero of the opera) was the leader of one of the "groups for self-defense" against the gradual conquering of the Balkan Peninsula by the Turkish armed forces during the second half of the 14th century. During this time, Byzantium, Bulgaria, and Serbia went through a difficult period of division. The different regions were under the sovereignty of boyars (counts and dukes), who governed as they wish. One of these boyars (according to the libretto) rapes Momchils sister and thus provides the basis for the plot of the opera. The major characters are the Boyar Momchil; his sister Efronsina, a nun; and Subo, an older comrade-in-arms. There is documentation that such a person did indeed exist, perishing in battle with the Turks. He had been typical of those rulers, who perceived the invasion as simply another inflow of barbarian tribes, not as the massive force which was to conquer all of Eastern Europe in the coming century, reaching as far as the walls of Vienna.

The libretto was written by the Bulgarian poet Christo Radevski. based on the novel "Den posleden, gen gospoden" (Last day, God's day) by S. Zagorchinov.

Premier 24 September 1948 - Sofia

The opera as playlist


Scene 1

During a night in the forest the brave hussar and the thief Momchil meet with close friends to plan attacks on the merchants and boyars. Together they plan a dangerous attack on the wedding ceremony of the King. In the wedding party of King Alexandar is the young Boyarka Elena. Her father, the Boyar Petar, had earlier violated Efrosina, the sister of Momchil. Momchil is determined to kidnap Elena to avenge his sisters disgrace.

Scene 2

As the party of the king stops at the tavern of Hubavela, Momchil's adopted brother Subo secretly approaches Elena. He gives her the ring of Boyar Dragshan as a symbol of his love and tells her that Dragshan will visit her that evening. Elena, in love with Dragshan, is unaware that he and Momchil are the same person. Overcome by love, Momchil discloses his real name after which Elena goes into a violent rage with her father's enemy. Calling for help she is captured by Momchil's hussars and taken to the Saint Irina Monastery. The servants and associates of the king, while fighting the hussars, wound Sabo.

Scene 3

Early in the morning at the edge of the forest under the branches of an oak tree Subo lies dying. He asks Momchil to marry Elena and tells him of a place to hide his treasures and use them for good purposes. Momchil should begin an honest life creating a new kingdom in the Rhodope Mountains without boyars and serfs, where the people would be happy. As Subo dies he asks Momchil to swear to fulfill his request. Momchil, seeing the approaching warriors, sets fire to the forest as the wind blows towards the approaching troops. He retreats with his comrades and heads toward the Monastery of Saint Irina where his sister Efrosina has become abbess.

Scene 4

Elena accuses Afrosina of seducing her father the king and causing her mother to die of grief. As the monastery fills with pilgrims coming for the religious holiday, Momchil appears with his hussars and asks Elena to join him in the mountains. She refuses and asks to be freed to join her father. Only then can she join Momchil. Momchil refuses and orders Hussar Batul to announce everywhere that Elena was kidnapped to avenge her father. Afrosina, not wanting to disgrace Elena announces that she seduced Elena's father and that he is dearer to her than her brother.

In a rage, Momchil condemns his sister and frees Elena. He fires up his personal revenge to concentrates on his main wish, to avenge boyars as a whole. Momchil leads his hussars and followers to his kingdom in the Rhodope Mountains. Elena loves him and decides to follow.

Scene 5

Building his kingdom in the mountains Momchil receives bad news: the Turks have invaded. After saying farewell to Elena, Momchil leads his warriors to battle.

Scene 6

The Turks have defeated Momchil's army, ravaged the country, set fire to the villages and killed the people of Bulgaria. With Efrosina trying to encourage the people, the hussars arrive bringing the wounded Momchil and Elena. Dying, he tries to inspire hope in his friends and followers. Elena and his follower Raiko lead the battalion to avenge their leader against the Turks.