Hamlet

An Opera By Joseph Summer

Joseph Summer composer

Release Date: April 22, 2022
Catalog #: NV6396
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Opera
Stage Works
Orchestra
Voice

Navona Records presents HAMLET from Joseph Summer. In this installment of the Shakespeare Concert Series, composer Joseph Summer brings us along to Elsinore with The Bard’s classic play in an all new setting complete with the lyric integrity of Shakespeare’s words in a contemporary musical arrangement. Performed by Bulgaria’s State Opera Ruse orchestra, choir, and selected Bulgarian soloists with nine international soloists singing the lead roles, the celebrated revenge tragedy bursts with a new modern flair while keeping the spirit and riveting narrative of the original alive.

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"this setting of Hamlet is [...] a masterpiece"

Art Music Lounge

An Inside Look

Joseph Summer gives an inside look into his early days of writing opera, and a few of the processes that led to the operatic adaptation of HAMLET

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
Disc 1 - Act 1
01 Prelude Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor 1:29
02 Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Evan Bravos, Claudius; The Choir of The State Opera-Ruse 5:26
03 And now, Laertes Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Evan Bravos, Claudius; Neal Ferreira, Laertes; Kevin Thompson, Polonius; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude 4:18
04 O, that this too too solid flesh Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet 5:18
05 Hail to your lordship Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Katherine Pracht, Horatio 6:55
06 My necessaries are embarked Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Neal Ferreira, Laertes; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia; Kevin Thompson, Polonius 6:17
07 Oh my lord, oh my lord Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia; Kevin Thompson, Polonius 8:36
08 And with his head over his shoulders Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia 1:53
09 By heaven, it is as proper to our age Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Kevin Thompson, Polonius 1:10
10 Interlude Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor 1:01
11 Angels and ministers of grace defend me Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; The Choir of The State Opera-Ruse 6:48
12 My liege, and madam to expostulate Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Kevin Thompson, Polonius; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Evan Bravos, Claudius 6:56
13 Welcome dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Evan Bravos, Claudius; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Kevin Thompson, Polonius; Dobromir Momekov, Rosencrantz; Teodor Petkov, Guildenstrern; Andrey Mitev, Child; The Choir of The State Opera-Ruse 4:50
Disc 2 - Act 2
14 Prelude Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor 1:45
15 I have heard that guilty creatures sitting at a play
Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet 1:34
16 Did he receive you well Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Dobromir Momekov, Rosencrantz; Teodor Petkov, Guildenstrern; Omar Najmi, Hamlet 4:09
17 Can you, by no brief circumstance Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra; Dobromir Momekov, Rosencrantz; Teodor Petkov, Guildenstrern; Omar Najmi, Hamlet 2:56
18 With all my heart Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra; Dobromir Momekov, Rosencrantz; Teodor Petkov, Guildenstrern; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Evan Bravos, Claudius 1:00
19 You are welcome Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Joseph Hubbard, Player King; Dobromir Momekov, Rosencrantz; Teodor Petkov, Guildenstrern; Evan Bravos, Claudius; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia; Kevin Thompson, Polonius 5:00
20 To be or not to be Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet 5:33
21 My lord, I have remembrances Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia; Kevin Thompson, Polonius; Evan Bravos, Claudius 5:56
22 Interlude Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Eftima Evtimova, violin; Plamena Velichkova, cello; Bozhena Petrova Ivanova, piano 2:09
23 The Mousetrap - How fares our cousin Hamlet Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Eftima Evtimova, violin; Plamena Velichkova, cello; Bozhena Petrova Ivanova, piano; Evan Bravos, Claudius; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Kevin Thompson, Polonius; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia; Miroslav Hristov, Prologue 2:52
24 So many journeys Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Eftima Evtimova, violin; Plamena Velichkova, cello; Bozhena Petrova Ivanova, piano; Melanie Forgeron, Player Queen; Joseph Hubbard, Player King; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Evan Bravos, Claudius; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia 12:45
25 He poisons him in the garden Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Eftima Evtimova, violin; Plamena Velichkova, cello; Bozhena Petrova Ivanova, piano; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Kevin Thompson, Polonius 3:04
26 Thoughts black, Hands apt Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Melanie Forgeron, Player Queen; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Evan Bravos, Claudius; The Choir of The State Opera-Ruse 2:07
27 What a Piece of Work is Man Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Jose Lopez, Solo French Horn 5:01
28 My lord, the queen would speak with you Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Kevin Thompson, Polonius; Dobromir Momekov, Rosencrantz; Teodor Petkov, Guildenstrern 1:47
29 He will come straight Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Kevin Thompson, Polonius; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude 2:05
30 What will thou do Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Kevin Thompson, Polonius; The Choir of The State Opera-Ruse 11:06
Disc 3 - Act 3
31 Prelude - To my sick soul Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia; Evan Bravos, Claudius 4:24
32 Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia; Evan Bravos, Claudius; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Katherine Pracht, Horatio; Neal Ferreira, Laertes; The Choir of The State Opera-Ruse 6:36
33 Well, not so secret Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Evan Bravos, Claudius; Neal Ferreira, Laertes; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia 4:35
34 This nothing’s more than matter Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Brianna Robinson, Ophelia; Neal Ferreira, Laertes 4:08
35 Interlude Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor 2:22
36 There is a willow Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Melanie Forgeron, Player Queen 5:21
37 Horatio, when thou shalt have overlooked this Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Katherine Pracht, Horatio; Evan Bravos, Claudius; Neal Ferreira, Laertes; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude 7:15
38 Interlude Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor 1:36
39 In youth when I did love Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Maria Anastasova, Will; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Katherine Pracht, Horatio; Joseph Hubbard, John, the Gravedigger 10:14
40 Lay her in the earth Joseph Summer ​​Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Neal Ferreira, Laertes; Emil Zhelev, Priest; The Choir of The State Opera-Ruse; MichelleTrainor, Gertrude; Omar Najmi, Hamlet 3:00
41 Hamlet, hamlet Joseph Summer ​​Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude; Katherine Pracht, Horatio; Evan Bravos, Claudius; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Neal Ferreira, Laertes<br /> 3:37
42 Windum, windum Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Andrey Petkov, Ivan Penchev, Radoslav Genkov, Dimitar Kyurkchiev, Teodor Petkov, Stoyan Stoyandzhov, Emil Zhelev - Norwegian soldiers 1:32
43 Give me your pardon, sir Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Neal Ferreira, Laertes; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Andrey Petkov, Ivan Penchev, Radoslav Genkov, Dimitar Kyurkchiev, Teodor Petkov, Stoyan Stoyandzhov, Emil Zhelev - Norwegian soldiers; Katherine Pracht, Horatio; The Choir of The State Opera-Ruse, Evan Bravos, Claudius; Michelle Trainor, Gertrude 10:10
44 Follow my mother Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor; Neal Ferreira, Laertes; Omar Najmi, Hamlet; Katherine Pracht, Horatio 3:21
45 I die, Horatio - Now cracks a noble heart Joseph Summer Ruse Symphony Orchestra | Leo Hussain, conductor 2:46

CAST
Omar Najmi  Hamlet
Brianna Robinson Ophelia
Kevin Thompson Polonius
Evan Bravos  Claudius
Michelle Trainor Gertrude
Katherine Pracht  Horatio
Neal Ferreira Laertes
Melanie Forgeron Player Queen
Joseph Hubbard Player King & John, the Gravedigger
Dobromir Momekov  Rosencrantz
Teodor Petkov Guildenstern
Maria Anastasova Will
Andrey Mitev Child
Edward Vere Prologue
Emil Zhelev Priest

Mousetrap Scene Piano trio
Eftima Evtimova violin Plamena Velichkova cello Bozhena Petrova Ivanova piano

“What a Piece of Work is Man” Horn soloist Jose Antonio Higueras Lopez

Stage Director Plamen Byekov
Set and Costume Designer Denis Ivanov
Director of Ruse Opera Ivan Kyurkchiev
Assistant Conductor Viktor Mitrevski
Repetiteur and Vocal Coach Brett Hodgdon
Repetiteur Bojena Petrova Ivanova
Choirmasters Steliyana Dimitrova-Hernani, Svilen Dimitrov

Recorded June 9-14, 2021 at the Philharmonic Hall in Ruse, Bulgaria
Session Producer, Editing, Mixing & Mastering Jan Košulič
Additional Mastering Melanie Montgomery
Session Engineer Aleš Dvořák
Performance Photos Emil Kyostebekov
Piano Reduction Marcel Kozánek
Engraved Score and Parts Marcel Kozánek

This album was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Mattina R. Proctor Foundation.

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Production Director Levi Brown
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Production Assistant Martina Watzková

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Aidan Curran
Content Manager Sara Warner

Artist Information

Joseph Summer

Composer

Joseph Summer began playing French horn at the age of 7. While attending the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina at age 14 he studied composition with the eminent Czech composer Karel Husa. At age 15 he was accepted at Oberlin Conservatory, studied with Richard Hoffmann, Schönberg’s amanuensis, and graduated with a B.M. in Music Composition in 1976. Recruited by Robert Page, Dean of the Music Department at Carnegie Mellon University, Summer taught music theory at CMU before leaving to pursue composition full time.

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Leo Hussain

Leo Hussain

Conductor

British conductor Leo Hussain has established himself as a leading interpreter in his generation of Mozart, the second Viennese school, and great 20th century masterpieces, breathing life into new scores and bringing fresh perspective to programming the core romantic repertoire with his musical intellect and curiosity. He was formerly Music Director of the Opéra de Rouen and Salzburg Landestheater, and now conducts many of the world’s top orchestras and opera houses.

Highlights of the 2021/22 season include Cimarosa’s L’Italiana in Londra for Oper Frankfurt, Berg’s Wozzeck for Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, and on the concert platform, Delibes’s Lakmé for Teatro Real and Lortzing Der Waffenschmied at the Theater an der Wien. Most recently, he has returned to the Theater an der Wien to conduct Massenet’s Thaïs, made his house debut at Kungliga Operan for Bizet’s Carmen, and returned to The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden to conduct Die Zauberflöte, Strauss’s Salome at Theater an der Wien, the Hamburger Symphoniker, ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Oper Frankfurt, Gothenburg Opera, made his debut with the Norwegian National Opera, and conducted a new production of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt at Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, following his debut at San Francisco Opera. These follow performances with the Kammerakademie Potsdam, Wiener Symphoniker, Bamberger Symphoniker at Mozartfest Würzburg, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, DSO Berlin, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Prague Philharmonia, Gulbenkian Orchestra, and Royal Danish Orchestra. Outside Europe, he has conducted the West Australian and Tasmanian symphony orchestras and Auckland Philharmonia, the NHK Symphony Orchestra, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra at the Tokyo Spring Festival. He conducts most seasons at the Theater an der Wien, and in 2016 he made his critically acclaimed debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Enescu Oedipe, described by the Sunday Times as “a musical performance of overwhelming impact,” leading to an immediate re-invitation. Other notable operatic successes include Strauss’s Capriccio for Santa Fe Opera, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and productions at La Monnaie, English National Opera, and the Bavarian and Berlin state operas. He enjoys a strong relationship with the George Enescu Festival with recent concert performances of Berg’s Wozzeck and Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder.

Early success at the Salzburg Festival, where he assisted Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker, and Valery Gergiev and the Vienna Philharmonic, led to worldwide symphonic debuts and close working relationships with these and other conductors including Daniel Barenboim and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Hussain studied at Cambridge University and London’s Royal Academy of Music.

State Opera Ruse

Ensemble

State Opera Ruse is one of the most significant cultural phenomena in Bulgaria. Its creation was the result of a long cultural process that began in Ruse more than a decade before the liberation. A combination of the desire for artistic expression, a longing for beauty, and a thirst for high European culture has meant that the citizens of Ruse have imbued the opera with a formidable energy. This energy is still present today and, despite all the trials, the ups and downs of the city’s history and the turbulent history of the country, the people of Ruse will always seek beauty and never stop developing their skills and the talents of their children via the influences of Western Europe.

November 27, 2019 marked the 70th anniversary of the official nationalization and opening of the Ruse Opera. In 1999, the Ruse Public Opera and the State Philharmonic Orchestra Ruse were united as one institution, now known as the State Opera Ruse. Knowing the power of music and performance to change hearts and minds, they continue to work on bringing the people of the city together and encouraging them to create something beautiful. In recent years, the Ruse Opera has taken part in a number of productions and worked continuously with important figures, cementing its place in Bulgarian musical culture. The rich creative potential of the different staff — orchestra, choir, ballet, soloists, and art studios — as well their long-term collaboration with the most renowned names of the Bulgarian and world opera make the State Opera Ruse one of the leading avant-garde opera theaters in Bulgaria. The repertoire of the theater has a wide stylistic and genre range. Besides traditional pieces of world opera and ballet classics, a large number of contemporary Bulgarian and foreign titles were first introduced to Bulgaria over the years. The opera has received the Crystal Lyre Prize several times throughout the years, specifically in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2012, and 2014. In 2012, State Opera Ruse was honored with the Crystal Lyre Prize again for its production of the opera The Nose by Shostakovich. Thanks to the votes of listeners to Allegro Vivace at the Bulgarian National Radio in 2015, the opera was awarded with the Ensemble of the Year prize and Ruse Prize.

Ruse Symphony Orchestra

Ensemble

The Ruse Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1919 as a successor to the traditions of the symphonic work conducted in Ruse after the Liberation. The first concert of the Ruse Urban Philharmonic Orchestra took place on March 2, 1919. In the first 30 years of its existence, the orchestra underwent many metamorphoses, adapting to its funding opportunities and involvement in various organizations such as the Lyra Society and Opera Society. In 1947, the orchestra was nationalized and on January 4, 1948 performed its first concert as State Symphony Orchestra Ruse, conducted by Konstantin Iliev.

On its creative journey, Ruse Philharmonic has accumulated a rich repertoire, both classical and contemporary. Its premieres are traditionally of national importance. A number of works by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, G. Kancheli, Hindemith, R. Strauss, P. Hadjiev, K. Iliev, Kr. Kyurkchiiski, Jenkins, and Charpentier have been performed for the first time in our country. Over the past 70 years, the orchestra has worked with many of the most admired Bulgarian conductors, as well as a number of renowned foreign conductors.

Among them we see the names of Kurt Masur, Carlo Tseki, Dmitri Kitayenko, Kurt Sanderling, Evgeni Svetlanov, Valery Gergiev, and others. Soloists of the concert programs of the Ruse Philharmonic include Sviatoslav Richter, Rudolf Kerer, I. Oistrakh, Leonid Kogan, R. Richie, Vladimir Spivakov, Franco Petraki, Yuri Bashmet, Robert Cohen, and others.

One of the most memorable events in the orchestra’s history was its collaboration with Dmitry Shostakovich and the author’s performance of his second piano concerto and his Symphony No. 9 in 1958. In creative harmony with the Philharmonic Choir “Danube Sounds,” the orchestra is the initiator and host of the International Festival “March Music Days,” the festival “Winter Music Evenings,” and the newest summer music festival in Ruse “Scene/Stage by the River.” The musicians participated in prestigious national and international festivals: “Sofia Music Weeks,” “New Bulgarian Music,” “Varna Summer Fest,” and “Siena Music Weeks,” – Italy, where the orchestra worked from 1984 to 1991. There, the orchestra has worked with famous musicians such as Franco Ferrara, Carlo Maria Giulini, Katia Ricciarelli, Boris Belkin, Yuri Bashmet, and many others. From the end of the 1990’s until today, the Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra has been an annual guest of one of the largest festivals of symphonic and choral music in France “Coreades.”

The orchestra of the State Opera Ruse has completed a number of international tours, passing at a high artistic level in Germany, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and others. It has contributed recordings to the Golden Fund of the Bulgarian National Radio, the Bulgarian National Television, and the Berlin Radio, as well as recordings of records and CDs for various companies from Europe and the United States.

After merging with the State Opera Ruse in 1999, the ensemble performed its new tasks as an opera and symphony orchestra with its inherent high artistic level. It now maintains a rich opera repertoire, which includes over 50 operas, 30 of which are “active.” This means that, if necessary, they could be revived at any time and presented as soon as possible. The orchestra of the State Opera Ruse is regularly presented to the audience as well as a symphony orchestra: Ruse Philharmonic. It constantly maintains and develops its symphonic and cantata-oratorio repertoire.

Over the last decade of its career, the orchestra has toured these titles with great success in Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Romania. It has also participated in the opera festivals of Rhodes, Greece (2001-2003), in Cyprus (2004), on Palma de Mallorca, Spain (2001 and 2002), at the Classic Open Air in Solothurn, Switzerland (2008-2013), and at the International “Hunedoara Lyrics” Festival in Romania (2018, 2019). In 2003 the orchestra was awarded the “Crystal Lyre” award for the concert on the occasion of the opening of the “March Music Days” and for the final concert with works by Stravinsky. In 2014, the Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra repeated this great success, receiving the “Crystal Lyre” for the first performance in Bulgaria of The Armed Man by Karl Jenkins.

In 2015, the Ruse Philharmonic, as an orchestra of the State Opera – Ruse, received one of the most prestigious awards in its history, the prize “Ensemble of the Year.”

The Choir of the State Opera-Ruse

Ensemble

The Choir of the State Opera-Ruse dates back to 1949. In the years before, the choral parts in the first opera productions were performed by various choirs from the city of Ruse, known for its great tradition of choral art. It is significant that in the middle of the 20th century there were 28 functioning choirs in Ruse. Even today, one of the most famous Bulgarian choirs remains the Rousse mixed choirs “Danube Sounds” and “Professor Vasil Arnaudov.”

During its long existence, the Choir of Ruse Opera has gained a great amount of professional experience, creating and maintaining a very diverse repertoire spanning many different genres.

The ensemble is proud to perform more than 40 titles by foreign and Bulgarian composers, among which we distinguish the names of Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, Gounod, Saint-Saens, Wagner, Bizet, Glinka, Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Smetana, Gershwin, Shostakovich, Parashkev Hadjiev, Alexander Raichev, Simeon Pironkoff, and Maestro Georgi Atanasov.

In the cantata-oratorio genre, the choir of the Ruse Opera has achieved no less success. Some of the emblematic titles in the band’s concert repertoire are Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Verdi’s Requiems, Mozart and Router, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Alexander Nevsky’s Cantata, Prokofiev, and Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins.

The choir owes its high professional level to the long-term work of conductors Atanas Dimitrov, Tomina Sidova, Hristo Stoev, and Steliana Dimitrova-Hernani. Under the expert guidance of these professionals, the opera choir has earned applause and standing ovations from all across Europe, including Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Romania, and Russia.

One review from a member of the foreign press reads: “The choir in ‘Nabucco’ surpassed the soloists — the choir was at a particularly high level and without exaggeration we can say that he was the star of the evening.” — Middelburg, the Netherlands.

In 2006, the Ruse Opera Choir was awarded the Crystal Lyre Prize for their performance of Handel’s Messiah at the opening of the International Festival Sofia Music Weeks.

Omar Najmi

Omar Najmi

Tenor

Praised for his “clarion, luxuriously Italianate voice,” tenor Omar Najmi enjoys a versatile career in opera and concert. A regular favorite at the Boston Lyric Opera, Najmi has been featured in over 15 of their productions including appearances as Nick in The Handmaid’s Tale, Vanya Kudrjas in Katya Kabanova, Beppe in Pagliacci, Goro in Madama Butterfly, Reverend Harrington in Lizzie Borden, and more. Recent and upcoming appearances include the title role in the world premiere of Hamlet (State Opera Ruse), Tito in La Clemenza di Tito and Rodolfo in La Boheme (Opera Steamboat), Alfredo in La Traviata (MassOpera), San Giovanni in La Resurrezione, and tenor soloist in St. John Passion (Emmanuel Music).

Najmi has also appeared with Opera Colorado, Annapolis Opera, Odyssey Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Saratoga, American Lyric Theater, Opera Maine, Opera Fayetteville, and more. Najmi made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2018 as the tenor soloist in Mark Hayes’ Gloria. He has since returned as the tenor soloist in Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living, and as a featured soloist in Talents of the World Inc.’s Caruso Tribute Concert.

Najmi has been a recipient of the Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Fellowship from Emmanuel Music, the Stephen Shrestinian Award from Boston Lyric Opera, and the Harold Norblom Award from Opera Colorado. Also active as a composer, Najmi premiered his first opera, En la ardiente oscuridad, in 2019.

In 2021, Najmi was a recipient of Opera America’s New Work Exploration Grant and The Boston Foundation’s Live Arts Boston Grant, which he will use to produce a workshop of his newest opera, This is not that dawn. He recently served as Boston Lyric Opera’s first Emerging Composer, where he premiered his song cycle My Name is Alondra, a collaboration with Boston’s youth poet laureate, Alondra Bobadilla.

www.omarnajmi.com

Brianna J. Robinson

Brianna J. Robinson

Soprano

Brianna J. Robinson, soprano, is a native of Ravenna OH. Recently, Robinson was named a finalist in the 2021 Benjamin Matthews Vocal Competition with Opera Ebony. She has been a Jane and Steven Akin Emerging Artist with the Boston Lyric Opera since 2018. During her time with BLO, she has performed the role of Lucy in Spears’ Fellow Travelers, and covered three principal roles in The Handmaid’s Tale. In Boston, her most recent work includes singing the role of Florence Price in Florence Comes Home by Francine Trester with Shelter Music Boston, and being a featured soloist in the Boston Landmarks Orchestra 2020 and 2021 summer seasons.

Previously, she was a Rising Artist with Pegasus Early Music, performing in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. Robinson performed the title role in Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’Isola d’Alcina with the Baroque performance ensemble, Collegium Musicum. She has participated in international programs including the Berlin Opera Academy and Opernfest Prague. She made her international debut in Ruse, Bulgaria in 2021, creating the role of Ophelia in the world premiere of Joseph Summer’s Hamlet. In January 2020, Robinson was awarded first prize at the 6th Getting to Carnegie Competition at Carnegie Hall, New York City. Robinson is a proud graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Eastman School of Music.

Evan Bravos

Baritone

Marked as a “young talent to watch” by the Chicago Tribune, Baritone Evan Bravos has received critical acclaim for his “lovely lyric baritone” (Opera News) in interpretations of opera, oratorio, and art song repertoire. Bravos performs the role of Hannah Before in Laura Kaminsky’s groundbreaking As One with Opera Santa Barbara in 2022. With Chicago Opera Theatre, he played El Dancaïro in Carmen and “sang winningly” (Opera News) as Clay in the world premiere of Matthew Reccio and Royce Vavrek’s online opera The Puppy Episode.

Other recent roles include Cascada in The Merry Widow (New Philharmonic Opera); Manfred Lewin in Jake Heggie’s Two Remain (Chicago Fringe Opera); George Jones in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene and Masetto in Don Giovanni (Virginia Opera); the title role in Don Giovanni (Hawaii Performing Arts Festival); Inman in Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain (Music Academy of the West); and Tom Joad in the Chicago premiere of The Grapes of Wrath.

Bravos has performed with Sarasota Opera, Opera on the James, San Diego Opera, Central City Opera, and the Aspen Music Festival. With Opera Theatre of St. Louis, he created the roles of Pvt. Johnson and Sgt. Brown in the world premiere of Huang Rao’s An American Soldier, and in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s “Lyric Unlimited” series, played and covered Enrique in the debut of Jose “Pepe” Martinez’s Mariachi opera El Pasado Nunca se Termina.

Bravos has sung in concert with the Symphonies of Santa Fe, Milwaukee, Madison, and Colorado, with whom he toured Fauré’s Requiem in Paris, Strasbourg, and Munich. An avid recitalist, Bravos has sung Patrice Michaels’ Notorious RBG in Song, was a 2018 Vocal Fellow at Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute, and has been featured in art song initiatives, the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, and the Horto Music Festival in Pelion, Greece.

Michelle Trainor

Soprano

Versatile singing actress Michelle Trainor is known for her “powerful, penetrating soprano” (Wall Street Journal), and as both a “comic genius” and “vocal treat” (Boston Globe). A favorite in the arena of contemporary opera, Trainor recently premiered the roles of Helen McDougal in Julian Grant’s The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare and La Madre in Omar Najmi’s En la Ardiente Oscuridad; and performed the role of Miss Lightfoot in Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers and Ofglen in Ruder’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In standard rep like Macbeth, Barber of Seville, and Threepenny Opera, she was described by Berkshire Fine Arts as “an ebullient comedian” who steals “every scene she is in with her pure joie de vivre.” She was nominated by ArtsImpulse for Best Female Performer in an Opera in the title role of Suor Angelica with MetroWest Opera.

Trainor has performed roles with companies including Michigan Opera Theatre, Boston Lyric Opera, Odyssey Opera, Tuscia Opera Festival, IlluminArts, and Enigma Chamber Opera. She can be heard on recordings of La Reine de Saba with Odyssey Opera, Haroun and the Sea of Stories with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and Clemency with Boston Lyric Opera. The Boston Musical Intelligencer called her recording on the BIS label of a staged version of Schubert’s early song Hagar’s Lament “spell-binding.”

As a concert soloist, she has sung in Mozart’s RequiemMass in C Minor, Solemn Vespers and Missa Brevis in B Flat; Mahler’s Second Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis, and Vaughn Williams’ A Sea Symphony. Trainor made her Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Canterbury Choral Society.

Katherine Pracht

Mezzo-Soprano

Singing the role of Horatio is mezzo-soprano Katherine Pracht, who made her debut with Joseph Summer’s The Shakespeare Concerts singing the role of Ariel in the world premiere recording of The Tempest for Albany Records.

Pracht’s 2021 season also included a role debut as Miss Jessel in a multimedia presentation of The Turn of the Screw with Miami’s IlluminArts, and a reprisal of the title role in Elizabeth Cree with West Edge Opera, earning rave reviews from Joshua Kosman in the San Francisco Chronicle: “In the title role, Pracht combined lustrous singing with a quicksilvery theatrical temperament as she cycled through Elizabeth’s rapid shifts in character,” and Georgia Rowe in Opera News “Pracht was an agile, intelligent, and well-sung Elizabeth, her shapely mezzo-soprano registering with clarity in each scene.”

Operatic role debuts in the 2019 season include Princess Linetta in Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges in Opera Philadelphia’s O19 Festival; Ottavia in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea with Jory Vinikour conducting from harpsichord at Florentine Opera; Countess Charlotte Malcolm in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music for Madison Opera; and Kate Julian in Britten’s Owen Wingrave with Little Opera Theater of New York. In concert in 2019, Pracht sang the mezzo solos in Duruflé’s Requiem with Christopher Bell conducting The Washington Chorus; Voices of Light by Richard Einhorn (film by Carl Dreyer) presented by National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale; and Messiah with the Toledo Symphony. More biographical information can be found at katherinepracht.com.

Neal Ferreira

Neal Ferreira

Tenor

Praised for his “rich, powerful voice” and “bravura-filled stage presence,” Neal Ferreira is a nationally recognized lyric tenor known for his cultivated vocalism and eloquent expression. Dubbed a “Boston mainstay” by the Boston Globe, he recently appeared with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall as Tamino in The Magic Flute, with Emmanuel Music as Macheath in Benjamin Britten’s version of The Beggar’s Opera, and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood as Parpignol in La bohème under the baton of Maestro Andris Nelsons.

A much sought after interpreter of new music, Ferreira made his European debut in the spring of 2021 as Laertes in the world premiere of Joseph Summer’s Hamlet with State Opera Ruse, Bulgaria. Ferreira’s successful performance as the Visitor in Boston Lyric Opera’s production of Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony was called “poignant” by the Wall Street Journal and “perfect” by Opera News. The tenor has also been featured on the premiere recordings of Charles Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories (BMOP/sound), Joseph Summer’s The Tempest (Albany), Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s The Importance of Being Earnest (Odyssey Opera), and James MacMillan’s Clemency (BIS Records).

Ferreira has also appeared with Florida Grand Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, Opera Colorado, Virginia Opera, Anchorage Opera, Syracuse Opera, American Repertory Theatre, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and Guerilla Opera.

Ferreira is currently an Assistant Professor of Voice at Berklee College of Music and also serves on the voice faculty of his alma mater, Providence College. He holds a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, and he is a proud student of internationally renowned tenor, Frank Lopardo.

Melanie Forgeron

Mezzo-Soprano

Mezzo-soprano Melanie Forgeron has enjoyed a rapidly growing career in Europe and Asia. Theaterkrant hailed her “gorgeous, dark voice, and convincingly gloomy demeanor” in a recent performance as Ulrica in Verdi’s Ballo in Maschera with the Opera Zuid (Netherlands). Forgeron performed the roles of Playerqueen and Luciano in the world premiere of Joseph Summer’s Hamlet in a collaboration between the State Opera Ruse, PARMA Recordings, and the Shakespeare Concert Series.

Forgeron was an established member of the Theater Aachen ensemble from 2005 to 2010, where she made her debut in roles which included Annius in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, Nerone in Handel’s Agrippina, Charlotte in Massenet’s Werther, Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo, Muse/Nicklausse in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, and Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin.

Forgeron has performed with the Theater Lüneburg as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, the Summer Festival in Eutin as Mercedes in Carmen, and the Staatsoperette (performing arts theatre) in Dresden, both as Orlofski in Die Fledermaus and the title role in Carmen, a role she later reprised with the Landestheater Detmold. In 2017, Forgeron sang the role of Frau Mary in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer at the opera festival in Heidenheim.

In August 2015, Forgeron made her debut at the Kioi-Hall in Tokyo, where she sang The Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, Annina in Der Rosenkavalier, and Kundry in Parsifal. From 2010 to 2015, she was a member of the ensemble at the Theater Bielefeld, where she celebrated successes as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, Page/Giovanna/Maddalena in Rigoletto, Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and in the title roles in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Handel’s Xerxes.

Joseph Hubbard

Bass

Joseph Hubbard, bass, has performed over 30 different operatic roles ranging broadly from early 17th century to new premieres. He was recently cast in the world premiere of Joseph Summer’s Hamlet at State Opera Ruse in Bulgaria as both John the Gravedigger and Player King; in a joint production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Second City as Morgan/Wotan (cover) in Longer, Louder, Wagner; as Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Larkens in La Fanciulla del West with Virginia Opera; Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Henry Mosher in Picker’s Emmeline, Bass/Allen Ginsberg in Glass/Ginsberg’s Hydrogen Jukebox, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Mother in Weill/Brecht’s Seven Deadly Sins with Boston University Opera Institute; Colline in La Bohème and Orazio in Faccio’s Amleto with Opera Southwest; Seneca and Littore in L’incoronazione di Poppea with the Aldeburgh Festival Britten-Pears Programme (UK); and Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte with the Aspen Music Festival.

Other operatic roles performed include Chucho in the world premiere staging of Bolcom’s Lucrezia; Sup. Budd in Albert Herring; Horace in Regina; Publio in La clemenza di Tito; Micha in Prodaná Nevĕsta; Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro; Don Alfonso in Così fan Tutte; Doc Gibbs in Our Town.

Hubbard has performed as a concert soloist with organizations such as the Washington National Cathedral, Beth Morrison Projects, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Met Museum Cloisters, The Art Institute of Chicago, Morgan Library and Museum, Mountainside Baroque, Ars Lyrica Houston, Duke University, Dartmouth College, Newberry Consort, North Carolina Historically-Informed Performances Festival, Madison Early Music Festival, and Boston Early Music Festival.

Joseph Hubbard holds degrees from the University of North Texas (B.M., Vocal Performance) and Northwestern University (M.M., Voice Performance and Literature), with a Certificate from the Opera Institute at Boston University.

Dobromir Momekov

Dobromir Momekov

Bass

Dobromir Momekov graduated from the National Academy of Music “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” in 2001. He specializes in the Accademia di alto perfezionamento per giovani cantanti lirici at the Arena di Verona under the direction of the world-renowned opera performers and pedagogues baritone Leo Nucci and soprano Raina Kabaivanska.

Momekov specializes in the private class of the Bulgarian bass Nikola Gyuzelev and debuted in the roles of Figaro from The Barber of Seville and Georges Germont in La Traviata in Bitonto, Italy.

Momekov has visited dozens of theaters in Europe and the United States, including the Festspiele in Salzburg, the National Opera of Albania in Tirana, and the Sofia National Opera.

Momekov’s repertoire is diverse in genre and style. His rich list includes central roles in operas by Verdi and Puccini. Momekov has been part of the soloists of the State Opera Ruse since 2015, and before that, as a guest, he toured the Ruse stage dozens of times.

Teodor Petkov

Teodor Petkov

Bass

Teodor Petkov graduated from the National School of Music and Dance “Hristina Morfova” – Stara Zagora with a degree in Oboe and Classical Singing. In 2015, he graduated from the National Academy of Music “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov.” He also participated in the master classes of Bruno Balioni, Veselina Katsarova (2018), and Nikolay Motsov (2019). Winner of the Third Prize of the International Youth Competition “Slavic Bell” – Varna (2019), the repertoire of the young singer includes central roles from the operas of Mozart and Puccini, as well as many contemporary roles. He has toured in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Romania, and Northern Macedonia.

Maria Anastasova

Maria Anastasova

Soprano

Maria Anastasova was born in Ruse, Bulgaria. She is a graduate of the National School of Arts “Prof. Veselin Stoyanov” in Ruse with piano and classical guitar degrees. She studied the art of classical singing in the private class of the Bulgarian baritone and pedagogue Ventseslav Anastasov. In 2020 she graduated from the New Bulgarian University – Sofia with a degree in Animation Cinema. She has participated in master classes of the Japanese soprano Noboru Aomori, of the Bulgarian opera singers and pedagogues Gabriela Georgieva and Krassimira Stoyanova. She has been a soloist at the State Opera Ruse since 2020, where she played the roles of Oscar in “Un ballo in maschera,” Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Serpina in La Serva padrona, Lila in Bulgarians of Old Times, and Will in Hamlet.

Andrey Mitev

Andrey Mitev

Treble

Andrey Mitev was born in 2012 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. At the age of seven, he began studying the flute and actively participated in concert programs and musicals staged by the Department of Performing Arts at his school. In 2020, he moved to Ruse, Bulgaria where he continued his flute training. He is the winner of the Second Prize of the National Competition “Sava Dobroplodni” in Shumen. Mitev sings treble in the children’s choir “St. George The Victorious” of Ruse.

Emil Zhelev

Emil Zhelev

Soloist

Emil Zhelev graduated from the National Academy of Music “Prof. P. Vladigerov.” In 2000 he settled in Italy, where he worked for the next decade. He specializes in Evgenia Dundekova and Claudio Desderi. He is a laureate of the international opera competitions “Umberto Giordano” (2000) and in Ruffano (2001, Lecce).

Since 2004, he has been an annual guest at the festival in Martina Franca (Italy), where he performs in central roles, which have been recorded and released by Dynamic for distribution in Europe, Asia, and America.

In 2007, Zhelev was engaged in a large-scale tour of the soloists of the Colon Theater (Argentina) in the countries of Central and South America. He has performed on the stages of opera houses in Bulgaria while being a member of the troupe of the Sofia National Opera. He has made numerous recordings for the Bulgarian National Radio and for the Bulgarian National Television. He has toured in opera productions and solo concerts in France, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

Since 2012 Zhelev has been a soloist of the State Opera Ruse. In his repertoire, he maintains central roles by Italian, French, and Russian composers.

Eftima Evtimova

Eftima Evtimova

Violin

Eftima Evtimova graduated from National School of Music “Prof. L. Pipkov” and National Academy of Music “Prof. P. Vladigerov” in the class of Professor Elisaveta Kazakova, and for her master’s degree she worked with Professor Mario Hossen. At the same time, she attended the masterclasses of Professor Vanya Milanova, Mincho Minchev, and Stoyka Milanova. She has won prizes in competitions. Evtimova’s professional career began in the Vratsa Philharmonic, continued in the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra – Pernik and in the orchestra of the State Musical Theater “Stefan Makedonski.” Since 2019, she has been the concertmaster of the orchestra of the State Opera Ruse.

Plamena Velichkova

Plamena Velichkova

Cello

Plamena Velichkova graduated from National School of Arts “Prof. Veselin Stoyanov” in the cello class of Alexandra Elenkova. In 1996, she defended her master’s thesis at the National Academy of Music “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” in cello in the class of Professor Anatoli Krastev and Chamber Music in the class of Professor Ventseslav Nikolov. Since 1997, she has been working in the Ruse Philharmonic. In 2012, after a successful competition, she was the leader of the cello group in the orchestra of the State Opera Ruse. At this moment, she is also a cello teacher at National School of Arts “Prof. Veselin Stoyanov.”

Bojena Petrova

Bozhena Petrova Ivanova

Piano

Bozhena Petrova Ivanova graduated from the National Academy of Music “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” in the piano class of the pedagogue and the outstanding concert performer Professor Yovcho Krushev. She has won awards from national competitions and the First and Special Awards of the Second International Piano Competition “Albert Russell” in Sofia. She has repeatedly performed as a soloist in all Bulgarian philharmonic orchestras, as well as the Shanghai Philharmonic. Petrova collaborated at the New York Harlem Theater with the opera Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin on tour in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Japan. Since 2002, she has been a pianist and soloist of the symphony orchestra of the State Opera Ruse. At the same time, she is one of the leading accompanists of the opera house, performing as an accompanist in numerous chamber programs, as well as in educational concerts organized by the Ruse Opera. Petrova is a music teacher at the Ruse Children’s Opera.

Jose Antonio Higueras López

Horn Soloist

Jose Antonio Higueras López was born in Picassent, Valencia in 1991, beginning his musical studies at the Musical Artistic Society at the age of 8 with Professor Juan Bautista Soria Medina. Since 2007, he has been studying with Jose Chanzá, horn soloist of the Spanish Radio Television Orchestra. In 2010, he began his higher studies at the Salvador Seguí́, Superior Conservatory of Music in Castellón.

From 2013 to the present, he has assiduously collaborated with professional orchestras, such as the Spanish Radio Television Orchestra (ORTVE), participating in prestigious festivals such as the Paloma O’shea de Santander international piano competition, the Castilla y León Symphony Orchestra (OSCyL), the Orquesta de Chamber of Spain (OCE), Philharmonic Orchestra of Spain (OFE), Santa Cecilia Classical Orchestra of Madrid, State Opera Stara Zagora, State Opera Ruse, City of Guadalajara Orchestra and Choir, Castellón Lyric Orchestra, Cuenca City of Music Orchestra, Orchestra Symphony of the XXI century, Camerata “Die jungen musiker”, and the Roma Tre Orquesta, among others.

In 2019, he belonged to the cast of the musical The Young Frankenstein and the musical Billy Elliot in the GranVia in Madrid. In January 2020, he performed as a soloist in the main theater of Burgos, with the Young Symphony Orchestra of Burgos. In February 2020, he moved to Bulgaria winning a place for horn at the Stara Zagora State Opera. In February 2021 he obtained the position of Solo Horn of the State Opera of Ruse. Since September 2021, he has been the solo horn of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra.

Plamen Beykov

Plamen Beykov

Stage Director

Plamen Beykov (ARCM, M.Mus.) studied opera singing at the Royal College of Music in London with the English bass-baritone Steven Roberts and the famous Italian soprano Grazziella Sciutti. He specialized at the Accademia di Arte e Cultura in Rome with Bulgarian bass Boris Christoff.

As a singer, the concert repertoire of Beykov contains Missas and Oratorios which he performed in Italy, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Spain, and Great Britain, including prestigious Auditorio Nacional – Madrid, Palau de la Música Catalana and Teatro Liceu – Barcelona, Mozart Hall – Zaragoza, Tchaikovsky Hall and Svetlanov Hall – Moscow, The Great Philharmonic Hall – Sankt Petersburg, The Symphony Hall – Osaka, etc. Vocal Chamber Concerts and Recitals are regularly with different programs (vocal cycles by Mussorgsky, Grechaninov, Shostakovich, Brahms, Mahler). Opera repertoire includes the over 30 roles performed in Еurope, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

In October 2016, Beykov started his education in opera stage directing faculty at National Academy of Music “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” in Sofia, Bulgaria, and in 2020 he defended his Master’s degree.

As a stage director, Beykov prepared La voix humaine (Poulenc, 2016 and 2019), Il Maestro di Musica (Pergolesi), The Flames on the Night’s Sails (Giorgos Minas), Maria Dessislava (Hadzhiev), The Soldier’s Story (Stravinsky), Kaffeekantate (Bach), and Il Ballo delle ingrate (Monteverdi) for the Sofia Baroque Festival in December 2019, Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart), and the world premiere of Hamlet (Joseph Summer) for Ruse State Opera.

Since December 2006 Beykov has been a soloist, and since 2018 has also been a Dramaturgist at the Ruse State Opera House in Bulgaria.

Viktor Mitrevski

Conductor

Coming from a family with a long musical tradition, the young Macedonian conductor Viktor Mitrevski began his music education at the age of 7 with the violin. In 2005, he picked up the baton and started studying orchestral conducting at University St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. In 2008m he received an invitation from Alessandro D’Agostini to assist him at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and the Teatro Comunale di Bologna. In 2009, he was accepted by the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, where he obtained Master’s Degrees in both Choral Conducting in 2014 with Professor Erwin Ortner and Orchestral Conducting with Professors Simeon Pironkoff and Uros Lajovic in 2015.

In his home country, as early as in 2012, Mitrevski made his debut at the Macedonian State Opera with Haydn’s Lo Speziale with the Macedonian Philharmonic in 2019.

Since 2017, he has been working with the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, preparing it for many opera and concert projects with renowned conductors including Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Claudio Abbado, Rene Jacobs, Cornelius Meister, Simon Rattle, Leo Hussain, and more. In December 2020, he was awarded the “Erwin-Ortner-Preis” for his work with the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, an annual award given to young artists for an outstanding contribution to Choral Music. As well as working with the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Mitrevski has been standing in the pit of the Theater an der Wien and conducted the famous Kinder an der Wien productions of operas for children, including Wir Befreien Eurydike, Papagena Jagt Die Fledermaus, and Figaro und die Detektiv*Innen. In addition to the work at the Theater an der Wien, from 2017 until 2019, he took on the role as music assistant and conductor at “Oper Rund Um” in Waidhofen an der Ybbs (Austria), where he conducted Don Giovanni, Entführung aus dem Serail, and Le Nozze di Figaro.

His latest projects include a concert with the orchestra Skopski Solisti in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, and in June 2021 he was an assistant conductor to Leo Hussein for the world premiere of Joseph Summers opera Hamlet at the State Opera Ruse in Bulgaria.

Steliyana Dimitrova

Steliyana Dimitrova-Hernani

Choirmaster

In 1994, Steliyana Dimitrova-Hernani graduated from the Music School in Ruse with a degree in oboe, and in 1999 from the Plovdiv Academy of Music and Dance with a degree in music pedagogy and piano. In 1997, Steliyana joined the “Danube Sounds” choir as a chorister, and a year later, she became a member of the choir of the Ruse Opera. She is a graduate and follower of the renowned Bulgarian conductor Mihail Angelov. In 2011, Steliyana became the conductor of the “Danube Sounds” choir, and since 2012 has been the choirmaster of the State Opera Ruse. In 2013, she graduated with a master’s degree in choral conducting from the New Bulgarian University.

The repertoire of the young choirmaster of the Ruse Opera during her work in the most active Bulgarian opera theater is extremely rich and is constantly expanding.

Steliyana has prepared the premieres of many operatic productions including “Falstaff” (International Festival “March Music Days”, 2013), “Les contes d’Hoffmann” (March Music Days 2014), “Katerina Izmailova” (March Music Days, 2015), “Der Fliegende Holländer,” “Maria Dessislava” (“Danube Sounds” Choir), “Fidelio” (“Danube Sounds” Choir), “Hymn of the Nations” by G. Verdi, and many others.

Steliyana Dimitrova’s repertoire also includes operas with substantial choruses such as Don Carlo, Aida, Nabucco, Otello, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Norma, Carmen, Tosca, Turandot, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, the oratorio Die Zauberflöte, Carmina Burana, Stabat Mater by Rossini and Pergolesi, the cantata Alexander Nevsky, as well as the requiems by Verdi and Mozart and so on. Most of the works were presented not only on the Ruse stage, but also at the festivals in Solothurn, Switzerland and Oderzo, Italy.

Svilen Dimitrov

Choirmaster

Svilen Dimitrov was born in Ruse. He graduated from the National School of Arts “Prof. V. Stoyanov” in Ruse with a violin degree and the National Academy of Music “Prof. P. Vladigerov,” where he studied choral conducting with Prof. Lilia Gyuleva and opera and symphonic conducting with Prof. Ivan Marinov. Since 1997, he has been working with the children’s choir “Danube Waves.” He is the conductor of the choirs and the orchestra of NSA “Prof. V. Stoyanov,” which has won awards at a number of international festivals and competitions. He conducts concerts and operas with the Ruse Opera. He is the conductor of the mixed choir “Prof. Vasil Arnaudov” in Ruse, and since 2017 he has been the conductor of the Ruse Children’s Opera. Dimitrov is the author of orchestrations of concert programs and productions of Ruse Children’s Opera.

Photos

Studio Journal

Joseph Summer on his Hamlet Opera

Early one morning in Ruse, Bulgaria, I ventured out from my hotel room in the city’s central square, Svoboda, pondering the ramifications of the Hamlet project, one day after the first orchestral rehearsals. Why was I here in Bulgaria, with my Hamlet opera; my four hour long, three act grand opera? Was this a mistake? Had I overreached? Was this the right locale for the premiere, the recording? Why here and now this enterprise of great pitch and moment?

What I wanted — as I began my early a.m. ambage — was a cigar and an augury. I wandered the narrow labyrinthine side streets of Ruse for a little more than an hour before heading back to Svoboda square, unresolved; when finally I was delivered a sign, in the form of a gargantuan yogurt drum. It stopped me in my tracks, this absurdly outsized yogurt container, the size of a garbage bin, adorned with an indecipherable — to me — image of a verdant mountain peppered with boulders in the midst of some gaping glacier. On top of the yogurt barrel, three feet above the ground, was the beginning of a magical message: the word “Divine,” though slightly misspelled. The mountain, the glacier, the conjuring of the divine; combined to compel my eyes upwards where was revealed, in golden majuscule and Bulgarian alphabet this:

ЗАСТРАХОВК

I read that as “Three Act Pax, Obey!” And “Pax” I transliterated first as “Peace,” and then “Piece.” The Brobdingnagian Yogurt Cup was telling me that I must be at peace with my three act piece; that I must obey the K. (PK was the abbreviation I used in the Hamlet score for Player King, so “K” meant “King” as is abbreviated in chess shorthand, though it could be argued that “PK” also means the King’s pawn.) Could this be right? A small sign adjacent to the portentous yogurt vat assured me, in English, that this mystical letter was delivered expressly to me by “my courier.” And yet, there was another message, mocking me, as another sign declared that it found my discernment of meaning in the ambiguous gibberish surrounding me to be laughable. The sign stated, “Snickers! I scream.” I took a picture of the scene, so I could ponder it later.

The titanic yogurt receptacle, the Golden Symbols, the sneering snickers comment, the flamboyant letters; they seemed to cast doubt on an oracle I’d chanced upon near a cemetery in Prague more than two decades prior to this enormous bin of bacterial haruspex.

My first experience in Eastern Europe for the purpose of a recording session – as well as my first visit to Eastern Europe, as well as my first recording session – was in Prague in 2003. MMC Recordings was running a project to record several of my Shakespearean settings for voices and chamber ensembles. I would speak at length about this triumphant catastrophe, but that’s a tale for another time. The event, if I can call it that, about which I was reminded yesterday morning (May 17, 2021) was a seemingly supernatural and oracular watershed moment — like the recording session itself — which to this day I endeavor to logically apprehend with a persistent lack of success.

I founded The Shakespeare Concerts and began the climb towards public performances and recordings in the early 2000s. Unbeknownst to me, the MMC company was eventually subsumed by the incipient PARMA, and – if I recall correctly – within the year of its establishment I received a call from PARMA’s founder, Bob Lord, who let me know that he had obtained the rights to the unpublished MMC catalog, and he wanted to release the music recorded in Prague earlier, that I had assumed was no longer in existence. I did not want the disc to be released, and I agreed to meet with Bob at his new offices in New Hampshire. I didn’t know what I would do to dissuade him from releasing the music.Sitting across from Bob, listening to him discuss the “positives” in the recorded material, I bethought an escape. I blurted out that I wanted to launch a series of discs with PARMA, but not start with the 2003 Martinek studio material. Bob and I came to an agreement, and began a long and rewarding collaboration that has included nine of The Shakespeare Concerts albums with PARMA, live performances at PARMA festivals, and now: HAMLET.

Beginning with a somewhat failed project in Prague and the birth of The Shakespeare Concerts; a sojourn backwards in time to Prague in the new PARMA offices which spawned a decade of collaboration between PARMA and The Shakespeare Concerts; to arrive at another eastern European city, sporting an ominous can; I am prepared to accept the call to arms. I defy Hamlet’s claim that “conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of Resolution Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought, And enterprises of great pitch and moment, With this regard their Currents turn awry, And lose the name of Action.” Quite the contrary, it’s time to act. And not just to act, but three acts.

— Joseph Summer

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Studio Journal Part I

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Studio Journal Part II

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Studio Journal Part III

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Studio Journal Part IV

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Libretto

Act I

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Act II

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Act III

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