The Minister of Culture of the Republic of France Frédéric Mitterrand will bestow the title of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic (Commandeur a l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres) on Raina Kabaivanska. The ceremony will take place on December 9 (Friday) in Villa Medici in Rome.

France decided to award the highest grade of the Order of Arts and Letters to Raina Kabaivanska for her significant contribution in the propagation of the culture and music of France throughout the world.

During her career that spans more than 50 years, the great Bulgarian soprano has triumphed many times in the biggest French opera theatres – Grand Opera in Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, Aix-en-Provence, among others.

For more than 50 years Raina Kabaivanska has interpreted on the world stages all great composers – from XVIII century (Spontini and Gluck) and the melodrama of the XIX century, to contemporaries such as Janáček, Poulenc and Rota.

The title Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters has been awarded through the years to such individuals as Thomas S. Eliot, Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, Václav Havel, Umberto Eco, Rudolf Nureyev, Meryl Streep, Elton John.

In Bulgaria, Raina Kabaivanska has been conducting a Master Class in Opera singing and interpretation at New Bulgarian University for 12 years now, where she established a fund for providing bursaries for young opera singers to cover their tuition in Bulgaria and Italy.

Her students will appear in the lead parts in the opera La bohème by Giacomo Puccini at the Sofia Opera and Ballet on December 10 and 11. The performance is part of the project “Raina Kabaivanska presents her students on the international stage”, a joint initiative between New Bulgarian University, Sofia Opera and Ballet and Teatro Comunale “Luciano Pavarotti” in Modena. In January 2012 the production will be staged also in Modena, Italy. For a third year in a row, the main sponsor of the “Raina Kabaivanska” fund has been the “America for Bulgaria” foundation.

Raina Kabaivanska also holds the most prestigious awards of Bulgaria (Order of “Stara planina”) and of Italy (Cavalier of the Great Cross of the Order of the Republic of Italy).