Stage of the Centuries Summer Festival, Tsarevets

Stage of the Centuries Summer Festival is a unique open-air opera and ballet festival held on Tsarevets Hill in Veliko Tarnovo. The festival is organised by Veliko Tarnovo Municipality and Tsarevgrad Tarnov Municipal Tourist Agency. It is one of the emblematic cultural events held in Veliko Tarnovo.
The first edition of the festival was staged in 1985 on the occasion of the 800th anniversary since the uprising of boyars Asen and Peter against the Byzantine rule and the establishment of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185 – 1393). It was then when the opera “Ivaylo” written by composer Marin Goleminov (1908 – 2000) was performed for the first time on an open stage in Tsarevets.
The second edition of the cultural forum which was already given the name Stage of the Centuries took place in 1987. Its bill included six performances of the opera “Tsar Kaloyan” by composer Pancho Vladigerov (1899 – 1978), two opera concerts and three performances of the ballet “The Goat Horn” by composer Krasimir Kyurkchiyski (born in 1936).
The only such cultural event in Bulgaria was held again after a 21-year break in 2008 on the occasion of the centennial anniversary since the declaration of the Independence of Bulgaria. On 12 September 2008, the Stage of the Centuries was reborn with a spectacular staging of the opera “Turandot” by Giacomo Puccini. A special 6 m-high stage was built for the festival among the remains of the palace on Tsarevets. The stage area was in harmony with the authentic historical atmosphere of the place and over 1500 seats were arranged around the stage and at the foot of the Patriarch’s Church.
The second night of the festival was dedicated to the centennial anniversary since the birth of renowned Bulgarian composer Marin Goleminov. Fragments of his opera “Ivaylo” staged for the first time on Tsarevets Hill 23 years earlier were shown. Arabesque Ballet performed “Bolero” by Maurice Ravel. The festival ended on 14 September with a performance of the ballet “Zorba the Greek” by choreographer Lorca Masine in which stars of the Bulgarian National Ballet such as Yasen Valchanov, Dilyana Nikiforova, Sarah-Norah Krasteva, Nikola Hadjitanev, and Kiril Ivanov took part.
Over 6 000 spectators, 2000 of which foreigners from the Czech Republic, Greece, Rumania, Poland, Italy, and England, saw the shows performed during the festival in 2009. The fourth edition of the cultural forum took place between 7 and 16 August and it included three performances of the opera “Prince Igor” by Alexander Borodin and other shows.
At the fifth edition of the Stage of the Centuries Festival which took place in the period 30 July – 8 August 2010 three nights in a row Sofia Opera and Ballet performed the opera “Don Carlos” composed by Giuseppe Verdi. Some of the most famous Bulgarian singers participated in the show – Orlin Anastasov, Kostadin Andreev, Ventseslav Anastasov, Biser Georgiev, Mariana Tsvetkova, Radostina Nikolaeva, Elena Chavdarova-Isa, Olga Mihaylova-Dinova, etc. Arabesque Ballet performed “Crazy Wine”, “Duplicity”, and “Bolero. They also presented a new rendition of “Carmina Burana”, the remarkable composition by Karl Orff.
In 2010 for the first time, Tsarevets Hill in Veliko Tarnovo became a stage for historical recreations from medieval Bulgaria. During the festival recreations of a medieval fair and a road military camp from the 12th – 14th centuries were shown together with reenactments from the lives of medieval people, attractions, medieval music and demonstrations of archery, riding, fencing with swords, and combat skills without arms. Masters from the famous Samovodska charshiya (Samovodska Market) in Veliko Tarnovo presented the medieval traditions preserved by the Bulgarian crafts.
In the 2010 edition of the festival, it became possible for people with disabilities to visit the shows staged on Tsarevets Hill. Tsarevgrad Tarnov Municipal Tourist Agency provided special transport for them from the entrance of the fortress to the access to the viewers’ seats. Tickets for the fifth edition of the Stage of the Centuries Festival became available online and 40% of the spectators bought tickets for the shows over the Internet. The total number of people who came to see the shows performed at the Stage of the Centuries Summer Festival 2010 was 10 000. 4 000 of them were from Russia, Rumania, Great Britain, Span, Germany, Italy, France, and Japan.

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