Robert le Diable comes to life in Sofia
Didier Talpain, Director of the French Cultural Institute in Bulgaria conducts the famous opera performance
14 January, 2012
Robert le Diable (Robert the Devil), an opera in five acts by Giacomo Meyerbeer, was staged for the first time ever in Bulgaria. The premiere of the Bulgarian-French co-production is slated for 20 January at the National Opera and Ballet, Sofia. Robert is impersonated by Georgi Sultanov, principal tenor at the Burgas Opera, and by French tenor Philippe Do (guest principal). Martin Conev, a contract principal artist at Bonn Opera House and Svetozar Rangelov sing Bertram. Tenors Daniel Ostretsov and Nikolay Pavlov have been assigned the role of Raimbaut, a minstrel. Diana Vasileva and Irina Zhekova perform Isabelle.Director of the production is Wissam Arbache, a graduate from the Orleans Conservatoire (France) of French-Lebanese origin. Conductor Didier Talpain is Councillor for Culture, France's Embassy and Director of the French Cultural Institute, Sofia. After his studies in flute, bassoon, chamber music and analysis, he conducted his first concert at 18 and studied conducting at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris and at the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation. In 1985 he won the prize of the Menuhin Foundation and in 1995 the Perrenoud Foundation prize at the Fourth international conducting competition in Vienna. He has been chief-conductor of a number of chamber orchestras in France performing a wide range of works from baroque to classical music to romanticism. Robert the Devil was premiered on 21 November 1831 at the Paris Opera, and was the work that brought Meyerbeer international fame. It was commented by Balzac and George Sand, Walt Whitman and Heinrich Heine composed poems about it. Edgar Degas painted two versions of the famous scene from the third act of the opera, known as the 'Ballet of the Nuns'. Russian painter Mikhail Vrubel executed a bronze sculpture of the same scene using his own face and that of his wife, opera singer Nadezhda Zabela to portray the images of Robert and of one of the nuns. In The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas devotes a whole chapter to the mysterious Count at the premiere of Robert le Diable accompanied by his beautiful slave in the box of the Russian ambassador. The legendary premiere was once again mentioned in The Phantom of the Opera.
Photo: Sofia Opera
The bill of the first performance of the opera, 1831.
The 'Ballet of the Nuns', a bonze by Vrubel.