Here I am in Bulgaria, a country not widely known about. However it is joining the European Union in 2007 so it may be in for something of a transformation of the kind that has been experienced by Latvia and Lithuania.
I have been to Sofia on a number of occasions over the years. This is the first time since 2001 when I last did the Neue Stimmen auditions here. However, we had especially good relations with the Bulgarian opera world at Glyndebourne where a wonderful man, Michael Hadji Mischev, did a couple of splendid productions in the late 1960s - most notably Eugene Onegin with Elisabeth Soderstrom as Tatiana in 1968. This is a production with a Chicago connection in that Andrew Davis conducted it in 1975 - and the title role was taken that year by Richard Stilwell who is still active as a singer but is also an important member of the CCPA Voice Faculty at Roosevelt University.
So I have been here on the search for singers half a dozen times. Bulgaria has produced a remarkable number, for such a small country, of distinguished singers. Notable are the basses Boris Christoff and Nikolai Ghiaurov, and the remarkable dramatic soprano Ghena Dimitrova who died earlier this month. So I am hoping that a new generation of stars will turn out for my auditions tomorrow. I will keep you posted.