Obituary: Bulgarian Tenor Kamen Tchanev Dies of COVID-19

By Francisco Salazar

Tenor Kamen Tchanev has died at the age of 56.

The Bulgarian tenor died from COVID-19 at the age of 56 on Nov. 26, 2020. His death came three weeks after performing the title role of “Otello.” The tenor was undergoing treatment at a hospital in Stara Zagora and there had been an appeal for blood plasma for him.

Tchanev was born in Sliven and studied at the French language school in his home town. He went on to study performing at the Bulgarian State Music Academy “Pancho Vladigerov” where he graduated in 1991. He went on to study at the Boris Hristov Academy of Music and Arts in Rome where he worked with Alexandrina Miltcheva, Ghena Dimitrova, and Leone Magiera.

Following his studies, he started working at the Sofia National Opera where he made his stage debut as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s “Rigoletto” and in 1994 he was laureate in the Jussi Björling international competition.

Five years after establishing himself in Sofia, he moved to Prague where he became a frequent guest of the Prague State Opera and went on to make debuts in Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Canada, USA, and South Korea.

Tchanev went on to work with some of the most important conductors including Ricardo Muti, Lorin Maazel, Nicola Luisotti, Paolo Carignani, Donato Renzetti, and  Philippe Auguin.

The tenor was known for having performed a number of lyric roles such as Gounod’s “Faust,” Massenet’s “Werther,” Alfredo in Verdi’s “La Traviata, and Edgardo in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor.” He later transitioned to the dramatic repertoire performing Cavaradossi in “Tosca,” the title role of “Andrea Chenier” and and Calaf in “Turandot.”

Here is a recording of his final role.