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On the 10th of February 1918, in Sofia, the company of Angel Sladkarov started the professional operetta in Bulgaria with the premiere of "Marquis Bonelli" by Dellinger.

On the 10th of February 2018, a concert was held at the Musical Theater, celebrating the 100 years of this event. On the stage, excerpts of emblematic operettas and musicals that have been featured over the years were heard, Strauss's "Gypsy Baron", Lehar's "Merry Widow", and Kalman's "Gypsy Princess", Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats", "Kiss Me, Kate" byCole Porter and "Bulgarians of old time" by Asen Karastoyanov.

On the 11th of February, a granite slab was found in the central foyer of the Musical Theater in memory of Angel Sladkarov /1892 - 1977/, the father of the professional operetta genre in Bulgaria. Above it, there is a portrait painted by the painter Pavel Mitkov. The book "The Memoirs of Angel Sladkarov" was also presented. In the evening, the soloists, the choir, the ballet and the orchestra of the Musical Theater performed the Strauss's oeuvre "Gypsy Baron" in memory of Angel Sladkarov, in which he once played one of his emblematic roles as a soloist.

A little more history

The birthday of the operetta in Bulgaria is considered the 10th of February 1918, when Angel Sladkarov, a former soloist of the Shumen operetta fellowship, collected musicians and artists in the First Private Professional Operetta Corps and with it staged the Vienna operetta "Marquis Bonelli" by Rudolf Dellinger. Then he changed the more spicy scenes so as not to scandalize the then patriarchal mores. He also changed the original title of the operetta - the "Chanconette", because in urban jargon at that time it meant "a light woman".

According to the publications in the press, the audience expressed their enthusiasm with endless applause. All ten performances of the "Marquis Bonelli" operetta attracted full saloons in the then Odeon cinema, which had 800 seats.

At the dawn of the operetta genre in Bulgaria, Angel Sladkarov was not only a soloist, but also a theater manager and translator of the German operettas. In fact, he created several private operettas in the country before coming to Sofia.

On the 5th of December 1918, the overseas professional operetta theater, Free Theater, was opened. It raised the curtain with the immense masterpiece of Imre Kalman's New Imperial Operetta "The Gypsy Princess". After this famous premiere, the new genre was categorically and unappealingly imposed in Bulgaria to experience its golden decade in the 1930s.

In these years - the period between the two world wars - the so-called "golden generation operettas artists" - Mimi Balkanska, Angel Sladkarov, Asen Ruskov, Tinka Kraeva and many others were the ones to shine on stage. Some of them became legends during their lifetime. There were nine private operetta theaters in Bulgaria. Unlike the National Theater and the Opera /then Operetta Fellowship/, which were supported by the state, the opera theaters - a totally private initiative, were without any help. But in those old days of the 250,000 Sofia people, there were always two private operetta theaters that would perform at full halls.

In 1947, when the new power came, private theaters were established in the People's Operetta. Part of the classical operettas were in conflict with the new ideology and were declared to be decadent and petty bourgeois. The work of the father of the operetta Angel Sladkarov was doomed to oblivion.
Today, 100 years later, our national operetta pays tribute to the founder of the professional operetta genre in Bulgaria.

The material is provided by the "Public Relations" of the Music Theater.

Photos:

1 and 2. Moments from the opening of the granite slab in memory of Angel Sladkarov /1892 - 1977/ at the foyer of the Musical Theater in Sofia.

3. The Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers awarded the Crystal Glow to the Musical Theater for its outstanding contribution to the development of Bulgarian musical culture and the 100 years of professional operetta theater in Bulgaria.

4, 5, 6, 7 and 8: Memorable moments from the history of the operetta in Bulgaria.