Varna Municipal Theater
The first professional troupe, the Varna Municipal Theater, was created in 1921 by the great Bulgarian actor Stoyan Bachvarov (1878 – 1949). As a manager-director (1921 – 1935 intermittently), he succeeded in creating one really modern city theater with a diverse repertoire. On 12 March 1921 the first season was opened with the play L’Instinct by Henry Kistemaeckers. The spectacles were performed in “Saedinenie” Hall, a wooden extension next to the Clock Tower, reconstructed later as the “Filial” Stage.
The Theater House
In the period 1912 – 1932, a modern theater building was built after many dramatic ups and downs due to the social and economic cataclysms. Its construction was a shining example of civil commitment. To achieve this goal, a special tax was imposed on purchases even of bread, a cinema ticket, a city entertainment event, baths, beach access etc.. Nikola Lazarov was its architect, who also designed the Evksinograd Residence (in partnership with Herrmann Meyer) and the University of Economics in Varna.
The building of the Drama Theater was designed in the Neo-Baroque style with elements of the fashionable Secession art at that time. The opening ceremony was held on 29 October 1932 with the performance of the comedy Boryana by Yordan Yovkov, directed by Stoyan Bachvarov. The mural paintings on the dome in the central foyer were drawn by artist Milko Bozhkov.
Varna People’s Opera
The basis of the Varna Opera consisted of an opera troupe and a symphonic orchestra, founded on 1st of April 1946. A year later, on 6 th of April 1947, the Varna Opera was created. Its first managing director was Stefan Nikolaev and its chief artistic director was the great Bulgarian tenor Petar Raychev (1887 – 1960). He was one of the first generation of Bulgarian singers with a world-renowned career. Having graduated with honors from the Moscow Conservatory, he improved his vocal technique in Italy. He performed at La Scala in Milan, the Vienna State Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.
The premiere of The Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana, conducted by his son Ruslan Raychev on 7 September 1947, marked the beginning of the professional opera art in Varna. The troupe was joined by Choirmaster Dimitar Mladenov and Ballet-master Asen Manolov, artists Asen Popov and Vladimir Misin, a soloist group, a choir and a ballet.
Till now the Varna Opera has staged over 200 productions, nearly 8,000 spectacles for an overall audience of almost three and a half million people. The repertoire is rich and diverse. It encompasses a significant part of the opera heritage of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as contemporary works. Among the works performed for the first time in Varna are: Cosi fan tutte by W. A. Mozart (1960), Cert a Kaca by A. Dvorak (1961), Betrothal in a Monastery by S. Prokofiev (1962), Albert Herring (1964) and The Beggar’s Opera by B. Britten (1982), Norma by V. Bellini (1972), The Golden Cockerel by N. Rimsky-Korsakov (1973), Ariadne auf Naxos by R. Strauss (1975), La cambiale di matrimonio (1977) and Il turco in Italia by G. Rossini (1988), Oedipus rex by I. Stravinsky (1995), ballets Spartacus by A. Khachaturian (1977), Arabian Nights by F. Amirov (1983), Le comte Oryby Rossini (2011) and many others.
Guest-performers in productions of the Varna Opera theater: Ghena Dimitrova, Nikolai Ghiaurov, Nicola Ghiuselev, Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Peter Glossop, Elena Nicolai, Zinaida Palli, Nicolae Herlea, Elena Obraztsova, Vladimir Atlantov, Emil Ivanov, Vesseliva Kasarova, Galina Savova, Krassimira Stoyanova, Boiko Zvetanov, Julian Konstantinov, Ivan Konsulov, Kaludi Kaludov, Orlin Anastassov, Ventseslav Anastasov, Nadia Krasteva, Kamen Chanev, Carlo Colombara and many others.
The Varna Opera includes in its repertoire operetta works as well, mostly by the classics of the genre – J. Offenbach, J. Strauss, F. Lehar, I. Kalman and Asen Karastoyanov. Modern musicals have also been staged and the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Theater and Music Production Center
In 2010 “Stoyan Bachvarov” Drama Theater and the Varna State Opera were united in the Theater and Music Production Center – Varna, whose spectacles have been performed on two stages – the Main Stage and the Filial Stage. Due to the thorough reconstruction and modernization in 2012, the Main Stage is able to offer modern conditions for creative work and comfort to audiences in accordance with the best European standards.
The Varna Opera and the Varna Drama Theater have played a key role in establishing the national and international prestige of the VARNA SUMMER International Music Festival (founded in 1926), the VARNA SUMMER International Theater Festival (founded in 1993), and the season Opera in the Summer Theater (since 2010), the Easter and Christmas Music Festival (since 2000), the Easter and Christmas Theater Weeks (since 2011).