Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
The music and stage programme of the 68th Dubrovnik Summer Festival features the premiere of Georg Friedrich Handel opera Orlando subtitled Metamorphoses and directed by János Szikora, on Friday, 28 July, beginning at 9.30 pm. The opera, which will take place in the magical ambience of the Benedictine Monastery Cloister on the Island of Lokrum, has been announced today, at the press conference held in the performance venue. Under artistic directorship of the conductor David Bates, the ensemble consists of a superb team of soloists: the British countertenor Owen Willetts in the role of the knight Orlando, Ivana Lazar in the role of Angelica, Renata Pokupić in the role of Medoro, Marija Kuhar Šoša in the role of Dorinda, and David Oštrek in the role of Zoroastro. The music will be performed by the Orlando Award winning Croatian Baroque Ensemble led by its Concertmaster Laura Vadjon.
The opera's libretto was adapted from Carlo Capeci's 16th century text of Orlando furioso for the lost opera of Domenico Scarlatti of a similar name, based on an epic poem depicting the fight between Christians and Saracens. The story of both operas revolves around the invincible knight Orlando torn between his love for Princess Angelica and his military duty. Handel's version changed in many ways Capeci's original, including the adding of a new character, the magician Zoroastro. Although originally shown only ten times and warmly received by critics rather than by audience, the opera is nowadays considered a masterpiece. The original length of the opera score, which lasts around three hours, has been shortened for its Lokrum performance in several ways: a number of recitatives from all three acts and instrumental sections from the first and third acts have been left out, while some of the musical numbers have been only slightly shortened.
János Szikora explained his understanding and re-interpretation of Handel's Orlando in the following words: „They say that if you want to understand an opera, you should turn directly to the music. The best instructions are in the music. When I first heard this opera, it seemed very strange to me that in this story there were two men and two women but no masculine voices in the score! No tenor, no baritone, no bass. What is the secret of this opera? I have found the solution of this secret in metamorphosis. Human beings always like to change their forms and they like to play with them. I hear and see this opera as a story in which people play with their sexual characteristics. Our version completely detaches from the opera's original mythological story and focuses entirely on the relations between man and woman. Orlando is just a name for us. We don’t know all of his mythological relations, but know very well that life is - as is the case in our play - a labyrinth, which gives no straight directions and often confuses people who try to find their way“.
János Szikora is a highly influential person in the contemporary Hungarian theatre art and one of the most outstanding directors of his generation. His artistic oeuvre in the theatrical world has extended over three decades and is characterized by performances created with unique vision, breakthrough visualisation and in-depth analysis. He considers himself an artist who strives for “intellectual and sensual synthesis”. János Szikora has served as director of several major theatres. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music in London, David Bates is considered one of the most exciting directors of Baroque music and as a figurehead for a new performing generation. In addition to numerous projects and engagements, Bates currently works in France as musical assistant and chorus master at the Festival d’Aix en Provence and Opera de Paris. The Croatian Baroque Ensemble is Croatia’s most distinguished ensemble specialized in the historically authentic interpretations of music from the Baroque and similar style periods on original instruments and their quality replicas. The ensemble has won a large number of prizes and accolades, including the Orlando Award for its performance at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival in 2014.
Boat transfer to and from the Island of Lokrum is included in the ticket price. Departures from the Old City harbour are at 8.30 pm and 8.45 pm. Tickets for the three opera shows on 28, 29 and 30 July are available online on the Dubrovnik Summer Festival web site www.dubrovnik-festival.hr and at box offices in the Festival Palace (Od Sigurate 1) and at the Luža. The Dubrovnik Summer Festival gratefully acknowledges the longstanding support of the Lokrum Nature Reserve in the realisation of this project.
The beach of Lapad is still not open to swimmers as the security fences remain in place. The Sunset Beach was planned to be opened at the end of June but that deadline has long since passed and by the looks of the latest photos it will be a few days yet.
Swimmers have been spotted ducking under the fences and enjoying the beach but the rest of the facilities on the beach are still being finished. When completed the beach area will be three times larger than the old beach and will include cafe bars, restaurants and shops. The sun loungers and sun umbrellas have arrived but they will have to wait a little bit longer for their first customers.
''The country only just gained independence in 1991, whilst Croatians are truly free, with a well-deserved sense of national pride. Therefore, steer clear of calling them Yugoslav'', wrote Travel Channel advising potential visitors to Croatia.
Globetrotters often seek information about destinations they want to visit on the British Travel Channel website, and now they can pick up some tips for proper behaviour while in Croatia. Therefore, here is a bit shortened version of the article published by Travel Channel.
1. Don’t Be Afraid of the Bus – ‘’Unlike other European countries where hitting the rails is a no-brainer, Croatian train travel is not always the easiest way to get around. Although Croatian Railways, the national train company, does connect many cities, there is no service in the south, for example from tourist-heavy Split down to Dubrovnik, arguably Croatia’s most popular travel destination. The public transportation solution? Hop on the bus!’’
2. Do Drive With Care (And Don’t Talk on Your Cell) – ‘’If you want to zip around more freely, rent a car. Almost all Croatians drive a manual transmission, so if you prefer automatic, let the rental car company know when you make the reservation. Also, don’t drive and talk on your cell phone -- it is illegal in Croatia, and strictly enforced’’.
3. Do Take Ferries and Charter a Boat – ‘’If you are visualizing many paradisiacal swims in clear blue waters, then the Croatian islands are calling your name. Most of the residents of Croatian islands have their own small boats to travel between islands and the coast -- it’s the easiest way to get around. Public ferries in Croatia are another common way to island hop. If you need more flexibility, look into chartering a boat’’.
4. Don’t Walk the Walls With the Masses – ''If you plan to travel to Croatia during the peak months of July and August, you might have to buck some trends to avoid the crowds. For example, the No. 1 tourist activity in Dubrovnik is to walk atop the famous City Walls that run for over a mile around the Old Town. But take a cue from the locals -- stay away from the walls during the middle of the day in the summer when it can be very hot and crowded''.
5. Do Watch Your Step – ''If you tend to venture off the beaten path, beware of unexploded minefields in inland areas like Eastern Slavonia, the Brodsko-Posavska County, the Karlovac County, areas around the Zadar County and in more remote areas of the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Up to 2 million mines were laid during the war of the early ’90s, and Croatia is not expected to be mine-free until 2019. The mines are not in tourist spots and chances that foreigners would visit many of these places are slim. If you do happen to travel in these areas, stay on cultivated paths and look out for warning signs''.
6. Do Remember the Patron Saint – ''According to the last major census, almost 90 percent of Croatians are Catholic. So keep in mind that each village and town has a patron saint whose feast day will be celebrated with processions and ceremonies and probably a day off from work. Croatians are especially devoted to the Virgin Mary, whom they call "Gospa."
7. Don’t Call It Yugoslavia – ''Croatia has long grappled with invading forces and external governments: Hungarian, Habsburg, Ottoman, Venetian, Serbian and Yugoslav. The country only just gained independence in 1991, and immediately thereafter was thrust into the devastating Bosnian War of the early ’90s. Now, Croatians are truly free, with a well-deserved sense of national pride. Therefore, steer clear of calling them Yugoslav''.
8. Do Call It Croatian - ''Linguists say the Croatian language is almost identical to Serbian, except that Croatian is written in the Roman alphabet, while Serbian is written in Cyrillic. Nonetheless, always call their language “Croatian,” and not “Serbo-Croatian,” as it has sometimes erroneously been called in the past; comparisons to anything Serbian can still be a touchy subject for some''.
9. Do Watch Where You Go Topless! – ''If you’re tempted to go European and drop the bikini top, feel free. Plenty of travellers sunbathe topless on beaches in northern and central Croatia -- and go totally nude in specified areas-- but you may need to be more discreet in the south, where values tend to be more conservative. And if you happen to find yourself on the island of Krk, know that this is the birthplace of numerous Croatian bishops and a very religious community to boot -- so, keep your clothes on''.
More than a month ago, the Israeli police posted a video on its Twitter profile on the Croatian Air Force Canadair CL-415 planes to express their thrill with the Croatian Air Force fire fighters.
Just to remind you, upon invitation of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu in November last year, Croatia sent two Canadair CL-415 planes with 14 crew members and aeronautical-technical staff as an air assistance in fighting forest fires that broke out in northern and central Israel.
Recently Israelis have posted a new video to thank Croatia and to show their enthusiasm with the Croatian Canadair planes and their pilots who have once more confirmed that they are true heroes.
In addition, after successfully putting out huge fires that broke out across Dalmatia last week, the Croatian Air Forces were also helping the neighbouring country of Montenegro, which was also caught in fire.
According to the data from the Croatian Ministry, 612,819 passengers crossed the borders on Saturday, while 562,299 left – reports Poslovni.hr.
Most of the passengers crossed the border with Croatia on the road- 579,755 of them. Busy Saturday was marked with huge traffic jams and long queues.
According to registered data, 164,994 cars, 4542 freight vehicles and 1559 buses came to Croatia on Saturday. On the same day, 148,871 cars, 4398 trucks and 1362 buses left Croatia.
HEP ODS d.o.o. Elektrojug Dubrovnik plans to perform sound insulation measurement tomorrow, July 25th, at substation Sv. Klara which is located in the Old City of Dubrovnik, in the street ‘Iza Roka’.
This procedure is done on the request of the sanitary inspector, and for the purpose of meeting all the conditions for obtaining the license to use this substation.
Works are planned in the period from 11 am to noon or 12:30, when they will simulate a noise of considerable strength, which may cause discomfort to all those located in the surrounding area. The noise will not be simulated during the total measurement and should not last longer than 30 to 40 minutes.
French folklore group ‘’La Mentonnaise’’ will perform in Dubrovnik on Thursday, July 27th at 3:30 pm in front of the St. Blasius Church. The event is organized by Dubrovnik Tourist Board.
‘’La Mentonnaise’’ has been founded back in 1945 and is a member of National Confederation of French Folk Groups. The group consists of 35 people who sing and dance and their performance is often described as ‘lively’.
Post Office Travel Money has recently published the annual report on the cheapest destinations in Europe for family holidays. And a destination from Croatia has also found its place on this list.
The criteria for selecting the 13 cheapest European destinations are the prices of a cup of coffee, a beer, a glass of wine, Coca Cola, a family lunch and a family snack. According to the total amount of these prices, European cities were selected and ranked on the top list by Business Insider. The Croatian city of Porec in Istria has been declared the sixth cheapest destination in Europe for family vacation.
Here is the list in detail:
13. Nice, France - £138,13 ($179,28)
12. Corfu, Greece - £116,91 ($151,74)
11. Palma Nova, Majorca - £100,70 ($130,70)
10. Paphos, Cyprus - £88,35 ($114,67)
9. Marmaris, Turkey - £83,71 ($108,65)
8. Limassol, Cyprus - £82,06 ($106,51)
7. Crete, Greece - £81,39 ($105,64)
6. Porec, Croatia - £80,55 ($104,55)
5. Sliema, Malta - £79,40 ($103,06)
4. Costa Blanca, Spain - £78,41 ($101,77)
3. Algarve, Portugal - £61,62 ($79,98)
2. Costa del Sol, Spain - £58,15 ($75,47)
1. Sunny Beach, Bulgaria - £35,73 ($46,38).