Meyerbeer's L'Africaine dazzles in Sofia

Deutsche Oper Berlin and Stara Zagora State Opera present a breathtaking production by Vera Nemirova

The unique coproduction of Giacomo Meyerbeer's L'Africaine by Deutsche Oper Berlin and Stara Zagora State Opera, whose shows were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will make its Sofia debut on 6 October at Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture. The incredible new production is the brainchild of world-renowned Bulgarian director Vera Nemirova and will make its Sofia stop in its full splendour with a magnificent cast that features Ivaylo Mihaylov (in the role of Vasco de Gama), Daniela Dyakova (Selika) and Besa Llugiqi (Ines). The show will be conducted by Maestro Ivaylo Krinchev.

Meyerbeer's L'Africaine was first brought to Bulgarian as well as other stages in the Balkan region at the end of last year. It received rave reviews, starting with its historical first show in the town of Stara Zagora. The prominent German outlet DAS OPERNGLAS covered the event in its first edition for January of this year, giving high marks for the show and the overall trend in the development of the Stara Zagora State Opera over the past few years. L'Africaine - a generous gift by Deutsche Oper Berlin - was met with great enthusiasm and positivity from its opening moments. The show is striking in its musical quality thanks to the great composer Giacomo Meyerbeer, and in the remarkable cast of soloists, choir and orchestra, but also in Vera Nemirova's unique directorial take, which captures the imagination, engages, motivates and inspires until the very last scene of this aesthetically pleasing and powerful production.

The so-called grand opera genre, which emerged on the stages of French musical theatre in the 1820s and 1840s, reached its crescendo in Meyerbeer's works. The mastermind of this particular project is Vera Nemirova, who has built a stellar career with some of the most prestigious European opera houses. She also did a production of L'Africaine for Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2015. The story told by the opera follows the travels of Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama and the cultural clashes he encounters. He is faced with a difficult personal choice: between Ines back in Portugal and Selika, an Indian princess. Selika is the only personage who is not hostile or prejudiced towards people of different nationality and religion, and she falls victim of her unrequited love for Vasco. Vera Nemirova's production seeks contemporary projections in the story, especially when it comes to religious extremism. The production design of Jens Kilian is centred on decorative screens and a circular map of Vasco de Gama's exploits.

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