Already as a boy, he sang in the school choir, and when he served in the army, and sang in a
choir again, his voice was discovered, and he studied with Hristo Brambarov in Sofia – only briefly, as he was soon
considered a "complete" singer.
In communist Bulgaria, singers couldn't decide on their own careers. Bonev was assigned to the opera theater of Ruse, which
was the second-best Bulgarian address after Sofia. He made his debut in 1955 as Gastone in La traviata. His next role was
already Rodolfo, and he was a big success. He went on to sing Don José, Cavaradossi (his signature role), Calaf,
Dick Johnson and Radames. He became quickly a star in Bulgaria, and outdid Ruse's first tenor Ivan Dimov; he made guest
appearances in Sofia, Stara Zagora and Gabrovo, and also abroad (once he made a six-month tour to China). In 1965, he was
offered a contract with the opera theater in Bern.
But it was not meant to be. He had to sing very much in Bulgaria, often two performances a day, one in the afternoon and one in
the evening, so he was constantly overstressed. Before leaving for Bern, he suffered a stroke on stage in Ruse during a
performance of Turandot, and that put an
end to his promising career: he never fully recovered, although he came back several years later in two-sentence parts like
Giuseppe in La traviata.
Reference and picture source