Monday, May 7, 2018

Opera at the Bulgarian Music Society

Opera on stage at the Embassy of Bulgaria/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Neighbors north of Massachusetts Avenue not far from the Cosmos Club may have wondered if the Washington National Opera was presenting an outdoor concert Friday night since stars came out to sing opera at the nearby Embassy of Bulgaria.
Sonya Argiro sings at the Embassy of Bulgaria, accompanied by pianist Ivo Kaltchev/Photo by Patricia Leslie

A principal artist for Metropolitan Opera, native-born Bulgarian bass, Valentin Peytchinov, sang a mixture of classical and popular music for the concert series of the Bulgarian Music Society with two sopranos, Sonya Argiro and Katrin Bulke, all performing solos and all accompanied by pianist Ivo Kaltchev.
 Katrin Bulke at the Embassy of Bulgaria/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Mr. Peytchinov sang Mephistopheles Serenade from Faust (Charles Gounod, 1818-1893), Richard Rodgers' (1902-1979) "This Nearly Was Mine" from South Pacific, and, at the end, an encore from the Barber of Seville.

Ms. Argiro, who began her musical career in Bulgaria,
sang "I Mustn't Think of You" by Gheoghi Zlatev-Cherkin (1905-1977), "Don't You Sing, My Early Bird" by Dimitar Petkov (1919-1997), and the Odabella aria from Attila by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901).
 Valentin Peytchinov sings Faust at the Embassy of Bulgaria/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Ms. Bulke's program included The Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and the Guiditta aria from Giuditta by Franz Lehar (1870-1948).

Mr. Kaltchev is the co-director and co-founder of the Washington International Piano Festival.
 From left, Valentin Peytchinov sings an encore from the Barber of Seville while Katrin Bulke and Sonya Argiro listen at the Embassy of Bulgaria/Photo by Patricia Leslie

All four performers are international stars who have starred in productions around the world, winning prizes and competitions.

Mr. Peytchinov said Bulgaria has more classical musicians per capita than any other country in the world (although an audience member, perhaps Finnish, took exception, whispering that honor belongs to Finland).
From left, Ivo Kaltchev, Valentin Peytchinov, Katrin Bulke, and Sonya Argiro celebrate their performance at the Embassy of Bulgaria/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Preceding the entertainment was the screening of a film by Elena Dragostinova and Yordan Boychev, Making Dreams Come True, about the renowned Bulgarian opera star, Boris Christoff (1914-1993) whose former home in Sofia is now a cultural center, museum, and studio for opera students and other artists.  
In front of the Embassy of Bulgaria is a bust of Vasil Levski, 1837-1873, a Bulgarian hero who led a revolution to rid his nation of Ottoman rule/Photo by Patricia Leslie

In addition to opera and a film, photography was also featured at the embassy with a new exhibition by Svetoslav Tchoulin, a native of Sofia. 

Mr. Tchoulin photographs city life, and, in his pictures at the embassy, omitted people so that viewers may connect more deeply with the subjects, a speaker explained. According to program notes, his photographs "turn the trivial into original."

The performance was presented by the Bulgarian Music Society, the Embassy of Bulgaria, the Museum Boris Christoff, Concert Evenings in New York, and Vocal Productions NYC Corporation.

This fall marks the beginning of the Bulgarian Music Society's tenth year in Washington.

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