Die Walküre in Sofia

A worthy second evening of the Sofia Ring. Some of the qualities described and reservations expressed in relation to Rheingold carry over. The orchestra and conductor Manfred Mayrhofer again disappointed. In contrast, I was even more impressed by Plamen Kartaloff’s production. In an age of perverse interpretations it was a relief to find a staging concentrating on story-telling and one which did so astutely. And it was not without originality. During the narratives of Siegmund and Wotan mimed representations of past events slid along the back of the stage, but not excessively, thus reinforcing but not detracting from the text. I liked too the reappearance of key images, most obviously the Ring but also, for example, the towers of Walhalla which became when inverted, and shunted around by extras, horses for Brünnhilde and the Valkyries. Given the excellence of Martin Iliev as Siegmund and Tsvetana Bandalovska as Sieglinde, the first act was undoubtedly the highlight of the performance, spoilt only by the audience in their understandable enthusiasm breaking into applause prematurely before the music had ended. I had high hopes of Iordanka Derilova, perhaps the only member of the cost with experience of singing Wagner in Germany – I recall that she was an excellent Kundry in Parsifal at Dessau – but her voice tended to spread when under pressure. Nikolay Petrov as Wotan earned admiration for his dramatic understanding of the role but he does not have the legato necessary for the lyrical passages and his articulation of the text left something to be desired.