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An Atlantide Prestige for the Plovdiv State Opera…

Gabriella Garcia

Gabriella with her Art Nouveau harp. Photo : Barbara Felgenhauer


Gabriella Garcia is a true European: born in Bulgaria, she grew up in Belgium and studied in Namur with Sophie Hallynck and Paris with Nicolas Tulliez. She’s now Principal Harpist with the State Opera of Plovdiv (incidentally, the first Bulgarian city to be named European Capital of Culture, in 2019). Like the Vienna State Opera, Plovdiv is a repertory opera house performing three different shows a week on no or little rehearsal – “so that was intense at the beginning!”, says Gabriella. “And we are also a symphony orchestra. That versatility allowed us to keep performing pretty well during the pandemic; we weren’t allowed in the pit for a long time, but solutions for orchestral concerts could be put into place more quickly.”

Other orchestral harpists will concur that plans of service often oscillate between periods of frenzied activity with the harp in everything, and time off with the chance to do other things. Gabriella makes the most of this, with several chamber music ensembles. Her longest-standing duo is with violinist Camille Bughin, and she also explores some unusual instrumental combinations. Her oboe and harp duo with Plovdiv colleague Giovanni Pistis came about because harp and oboe have so many passages together in opera, while her French horn and harp duo with Margaux Ortman is based back in Belgium. In both cases, Gabriella enjoys the repertoire research involved in programming for these two instrumental combinations: “We make arrangements, and find original music in archives that has not yet been played. I like to explore what I don’t yet know, and both the oboe and the French horn go really well with the harp, so it’s nice to expand their possibilities.”

The Plovdiv State Opera is also now enjoying expanded possibilities in the form of a new Atlantide Prestige harp, on which Gabriella gave its inaugural concert on November 8th. “In Western Europe, we take high-quality instruments for granted”, Gabriella reflects, “but this is not the case everywhere in the world. Many wonderful harpists’ daily work involves carefully disguising issues on harps that were made in different times. They never complain, but it can be complicated when conductors come from abroad who are not always aware of the situation. In any case, I sometimes brought my own Art Nouveau harp to work so that my colleagues and the management team could hear the difference. They understood immediately, and I’m very proud and admirative of their commitment to turning the idea of a new level of instrument into reality. Far from consigning the harp to a niche, as can still occasionally be the case wherever you are in the world, Plovdiv has broadened its horizons.”

Here at Camac Harps we are also very proud of both Gabriella and Plovdiv’s confidence in our harps. We hope we’ll soon have a chance to return to Bulgaria and hear the Atlantide in its new home!

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