For those who love culture, visiting Sofia Ballet and Opera can be one of the most unexpected and pleasant ways to discover Bulgaria’s capital.
DISCLOSURE: As part of Sofia Opera and Ballet's collaboration with bloggers, I was invited to attend one of their shows for free. For me, it was an opportunity to speak and promote something that I already knew and love.
It always amazes me how ballet succeeds to tell a story without words. The performance that defines the meaning of “finesse” and “elegance” is transforming emotions and influencing people without a single word.
Ballet is an experience that offers moments of feeling like a melting human shape flowing down the velvet-lined chair. At least to me it is.
The ballet I chose to see for this collaboration with the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria was The Lady of the Camellias. It is a classic adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas son, and the music is by Giuseppe Verdi, adapted for dance by the Russian composer Sergey Onsoff.
Sofia Ballet and Opera
It was not the first time I have watched a ballet or opera. I have been to the Milan La Scala too. I prefer watching these classic performances in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. These are my reasons why.
The Ballet and Opera in Sofia is a classic-style theatre with circles and lodges, chairs lined with velvet in bold red colour. It feels cosy and it is small enough that you feel in contact with the artists and what happens on the scene feels much more intimate.
It is a classic style ballet. The beauty is still here. I did see ballet once in La Scala in Milano. Came back utterly disappointed by the modernized show with costumes like uniforms from concentration camps and duo-colored in brown and grey decors. The pleasure of watching ballet is in the aesthetic beauty of the performance. Take that away and you are left with bitter disappointment.
The Lady of the Camellias
In The Lady of the Camellias performed by Sofia Ballet and Opera, the most surprising for me was the bold and colourful stage decor. You can see a little bit of them in the photos provided by the Opera. Understandably, we could not take photos during the show. The decors are in red and violet and represent gigantesque camellias on a semi-transparent black net. The play with the lights makes this décor a surprising and amazing addition to the whole great performance.
If the décor is not very important to you, I’m sure you will love the costumes that are both classical and somewhat modern.
I’m not an expert on ballet but I know when a performance pleases me. It was delightful to watch the prima ballerina. When she dances, it looks like the movements come from her very core.
A very special character in The Lady of the Camellias of the Sofia Ballet and Opera is the … Death, played by Matthew Whittle. His performance was very convincing and yet somehow sympathetic.
The end of the show brought me to tears. Something that hasn’t happened until then at a ballet performance. Not sure if it was the storyline or because of the well-directed end accompanied by gripping music.
To make your experience even better, you can include a visit to the Viennese Café you will find at the corner of Rakovska and Moskovska streets, just not far from the National Opera and Ballet building.