RAINA KABAIVANSKA – “THE DIVINE ONE”
One of the century’s biggest opera voices – the Bulgarian prima Raina Kabaivanska celebrated her 50-year star career. The name of the Bulgarian soprano is an integral part of the 20th century opera art history.
She made her international début in 1959 in Puccini’s “Il Tabarro” (The Cloak) in the Opera Theater in Vercelli, Italy. Two years later she appeared in the world’s most famous opera house – La Scala, Milan.
Raina Kabaivanska made her debut on the stage of the London’s Covent Garden in 1962, and in the beginning of the 60s of the past century she was the world opera theaters’ most sought-after soprano.
Her performance’s magnetism is in the fact that Kabaivanska is a rare combination of a signer and an actress at the same time.
She received the most prestigious honors, which could be given to an opera singer – the Belliini, Puccini, Golden Verdi, Monte Verdi, the Medici Academy honors. She has played over 100 roles for the 50 years of her entering the opera stage. People tell legends about her characters Tosca and Madame Butterfly.
Her most honorary title however is the recognition given by the audience – it called her “Lа Diva” – the Divine One.
Raina Kabaivanska told ChergaBG about herself and about the future of the opera art.
Mrs. Kabaivanska, please accept ChergaBG magazine and its readers’ congratulations on your amazing work anniversary. After these 50 years passed yet is there any question the answer of which you are still looking for?
People constantly search answers and constantly ask questions. When one has a work like mine – connected to pressure, concert by concert, rehearsals, hotels, magnificence, but also loneliness – then you try to answer the questions quickly, to avoid leaving things to be solved later – later today or later in life. But today, sometimes I ask myself – if there really is something divine in the music as sometimes it rises up to God.
The world changes every day, and the opera is the art of the good taste and culture which seem to be left behind. What do you think about the future of the opera in these times of quick rhythm and high tech?
There will be people for the opera. It has always had audience and not just an ordinary audience but devoted, private one. But the world is really changing and I have said many times that the technologies are something scary. On the other hand however – each time has its things. The opera blossomed in the post-wars years, and today the Internet and the computers are fashionable, we have sites, we watch TV… The opera however carries on and I think it will survive as it excites people.
You have the wisdom of an artist with a golden career – what do you think of the young opera singer that take you way now?
The road is very hard. The glory shines a lot, but the things need also a lot of work. Just a voice is not enough, you need a technique – to provide this voice and to keep it. The young people today think that the voice is everything. In my master class in the New Bulgarian University I try to show them the technique, as just a talent is not enough. I think that more discipline is needed. And also I think that the art will always be on the top, it will survive and win. Once I started from a small, closed country to go to the big opera, because secretly I had heard on the radio Callas singing. Today the world is opened – there is no Bulgaria, Greece, Italy – and this will make the road of the young people easier. They have more information and more opportunities to draw on the others’ experience, to travel, to see how the others make opera.
It was the 7th time in Bulgaria to be held a master class managed by you. You have master classes abroad too. What is the satisfaction from your pedagogical activity and is the delight from your students’ success different?
I worry about my students as much as about you. I am anxious while each of them sings at the concert we make after the master class. I take really personally the education of the young people as I have put myself the target to give them the knowledge given to me by my teachers – Zita Fumagalli Riva, Rosa Ponselle. Many of my colleagues keep in secret their knowledge, but in a way to continue the art, it shall be given to the young people. This is the aim of my master class in the New Bulgarian University.
Who and what do you think of with the biggest love?
I admire each audience and each thing related to music I remember and think of with love. My favorite stage is probably Arena di Verona, as it has significance, magic. And the image and the nature of Karajan, together with whom we made a brilliant performance in the Vienna opera in 1978 – will be some of the most interesting moments in the career.
Could you choose one of your roles, you feel mostly like yourself?
No. But probably Tosca and Butterfly are my best parts. Now I play the Countess in Pique Dame (Queen of Spades), which we play in Toulouse. Very interesting show. Sometimes people ask mew if I miss Tosca, but I don’t think so as now I prepare young actresses to play this role. So that I am Tosca all the time but through the young people.
What is the mission of the “Raina Kabaivanska” fund?
To help young people studying opera singing. The scholarships are internations and national and each year we allocate them in the end of my master class in NBU. We have over 20 scholarship students. The big writer Blaga Dimitrova, who was also a friend of mine, was the one to give me the idea about the fund. We started with a foundation which developed into a fund. And the loveliest thing is that our work is effective and the last class was visited by the directors of two operas – the Prague and Riga ones who listened to our singers to offer them to perform in some shows. I am proud when the signer we have provided scholarships to, make a success. Such are Veronica Simeoni, the Bulgarian Plamen Kumpikov and others from all over the world since we have scholarship students from Argentina, South Africa, Lebanon, Italy, Australia, and Turkey.