With the traditional grand ceremony and raising of the Libertas flag to the verses of the Hymn to Liberty the 72nd annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival will open on Saturday, 10 July at 9pm in front of the St. Blaise’s Church. During the 47 days of the Festival, audiences will be able to enjoy almost 70 drama, music, dance and other performances on some 15 stages and site-specific locations in and around Dubrovnik.
The ceremony will be directed by Hrvoje Korbar, with performances by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra under the baton of maestro Stjepan Vuger, the percussion quartet Percussion Club and the Linđo Folklore Ensemble. Also performing are the Festival Drama Ensemble who will be joined by drama and dance students of the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Arts. An EU digital COVID pass or other valid proof of vaccination, negative test results or having already recovered from the infection are needed to attend the ceremony. The grand opening will also be broadcast live on the first channel of the Croatian National Televison (HRT).
The rich Festival drama programme brings nine different productions, starting with premiere performances of ‘Beside Oneself’ on 13 July at Lazareti and Komarda. A project by Nataša Rajković, Ivan Penović and the play’s cast, this play is staged by the Festival as part of the Port of Dreamers project co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. It deals with migrations as an inevitable, unceasing social process and all the spaces we define, outline with migration or leave empty by our departure. The dramaturgy of the project is based on the form of previously held workshops for migrants, which enables different performative modes of expression which, in satirical, tragic and pseudo-documentary tone, expose all the pointlessness of attempts to contextualise the other and those who are different with bureaucratic language of European attitude to migrant experience. The audiences will also have the opportunity to see the productions of our project partners: the play ‘Celebration’ based on an Ivor Martinić text, directed by Jan Krmelj and produced by the Slovene National Theatre Maribor, and also the play ‘Under the Same Roof’, directed by Ivana Janošev and co-produced by the civil society organisation Kulturanova and Újvidéki Színház, Hungarian minority theatre from Novi Sad, Serbia.
The second premiere production at the 72nd Dubrovnik Summer Festival is ‘Lion House’ which portrays Dubrovnik as a place where burdened history and burlesque transition clash. The present-day bitter-humorous complications surrounding the purchase and restoration of an apartment in the historic city core are complemented with an interesting and engaging history of Dubrovnik, above which looms the grim fate of the Great Earthquake. The play is based on Ivan Salečić’s debut novel ‘Lion House’, adapted for stage by Marijana Fumić and directed by Aida Bukvić. The ensemble that will be performing on the playground under the Minčeta Fort on 20 August consists of: Amar Bukvić, Iva Kraljević, Jadranka Đokić, Dražen Šivak, Branimir Vidić - Flika, Maro Martinović, Doris Šarić-Kukuljica, Romano Nikolić, Marin Klišmanić and Gloria Dubelj.
To the audiences’ delight, reprise performances of acclaimed productions from previous Festival seasons are also a part of this year’s drama programme. In July, the Festival’s patrons will have the opportunity to enjoy Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ directed by Paolo Magelli with Dubrovnik’s own Frano Mašković in the lead role, which premiered at the 70th Dubrovnik Summer Festival, as well as Saša Božić’s ‘Mara and Kata’, in which Nataša Dangubić as Mara and Doris Šarić Kukuljica as Kata from St Mary’s Convent Courtyard take the audience on an absurd journey through Dubrovnik from the end of the 1990s until recent times. The latter play’s five announced performances are already selling out. The beginning of August once again brings Držić’s ‘Grižula’ directed by Saša Božić and Petra Hrašćanec to Gradac Park. The play was premiered last year as part of the Future Epics project co-funded by the European Union Creative Europe programme. It is performed by the always fantastic Festival Drama Ensemble consisting of Ozren Grabarić, Nataša Dangubić, Perica Martinović, Branimir Vidić and Boris Barukčić, with the participation of Dance and Acting students from the Academy of Dramatic Art, University of Zagreb. Last but not the least, let us announce the traditional performance held by Lero Student's Theatre with their newest piece ‘Jugo’ by author and director Davor Mojaš.
The varied music programme at the Festival will present top Croatian musicians and renowned international virtuosos. It opens with a percussion treat led by the excellent Ivana Kuljerić Bilić, accompanied on the stage in front of the St. Blaise’s Church by long-time colleague Nikola Krbanyevitch along with Francesco Mazzoleni and Luis Montealegre. Ivana Kuljerić Bilić will also hold a percussion workshop from 14 to 16 July as part of the Festival’s accompanying programme. Tomislav Fačini, the Festival’s Assistant Director for Music, will be conducting the Croatian Radio and Television Choir at this season’s first concert at the Rector’s Palace. Joining their performance of Boris Papandopulo’s Croatian Mass are soprano Darija Auguštan, mezzosoprano Martina Gojčeta Silić, tenor Stjepan Franetović and baritone Robert Kolar. Following that, the Rector’s Palace will host performances by the impressive young Croatian pianist Lovre Marušić and Russian soprano Julia Lezhneva with La voce strumentale, an ensemble founded in Moscow in 2011 by Dmitry Sinkovsky consisting of top musicians, winners of various international competitions. Young violinist Eva Šulić will also perform at the Rector’s Palace with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble, and additionally with kvARTet, an ensemble she is a member of alongside cellist Pavle Zajcev, violinist Đana Kahriman and violist Šimun Končić. Pianist Martina Filjak will hold a concert with Felix Klieser on horn and Andrej Bielow on violin. What’s more, the famous, award-winning American tenor Lawrence Brownlee, accompanied on piano by Vesna Podrug Kossjanenko, will surely wow the Festival crowd this summer.
Gathering an exciting ensemble of some of Dubrovnik’s finest musicians, with an unusual selection of instruments and distinctive personalities, ‘Dubrovnik on a Rock of Music’ will again be a part of the Festival’s music programme. This year’s concert soloists are saxophonist Lovro Merčep, pianist Marija Grazio and mezzosoprano Dubravka Šeparović Mušović. Guitarist Petrit Çeku, one of the Festival audience’s favourite artists, will perform at the 72nd Dubrovnik Summer Festival. He will also hold a guitar and chamber music masterclass in Dubrovnik from 18 to 25 July, focusing on interpretation, expressiveness and general artistic development of musicians. On the last day of the workshop, the attendees will hold a final concert in the Bunić-Kaboga Summer Villa. The Villa will also host a concert by the Harlequin Art Collective, made up by Marta Schwaiger, Dani Bošnjak, Šimun Matišić, Stjepan Vuger and Alan Bošnjak who make use of the voice, vibraphone and several other percussions, accordion, flute and trombone as their instruments. The Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra will hold a big concert in front of the Cathedral, conducted by Eduardo Strausser, with piano soloist Goran Filipec, renowned for his highly virtuosic, exceptional interpretations of Franz Liszt as well as classical and romantic repertoire. Filipec is a proponent of creativity and subjectivity in performance, observing it as co-creation of a musical piece. He is considered to have ‘three of the most important attributes that make a great pianist: artist, architect and acrobat’ (Gramophone, 2018). The same stage will see Richard Bona, a versatile artist called ‘the African Sting’ by his fans, perform alongside Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodríguez and the Croatian Radio and Television Jazz Orchestra, proudly sponsored by Mastercard. The honour of closing the Festival traditionally goes to the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra who will perform a grand closing concert under the baton of one of the Festival’s favourite conductors, Ivan Repušić. Alongside them will be the incomparable Diana Damrau, soprano Nicolas Testé, bass and Roko Radovan, tenor.
To all lovers of dance, one of the highlights of this year’s dance programme will be ‘Lulu’, a project by former principal dancer of the Croatian National Theatre of Zagreb Ballet Ensemble, talented director, choreographer, dramaturge and set designer Staša Zurovac. In a strong interaction of two souls, one speaking body and the other speaking music, to the music of Alexander Balanescu, the piece will be performed by Brazilian dance artist and performer, former lead dancer of Staatstheater Darmstadt and Musiktheater Linz Andressa Miyazato and violin virtuoso and founder of the world-famous Balanescu Quartet, Alexander Balanescu. The 72nd Dubrovnik Summer Festival’s dance programme will also feature the award-winning project ‘Together’ by dance artist Petra Hrašćanec, a collaboration between six young dancers premiered at the Zagreb Dance Centre last October. Croatia’s rich folk dance and music heritage will be presented again by the Linđo Folklore Ensemble, as is Festival tradition.
As part of the accompanying Festival programme, on 11 July in the Sponza Palace atrium the group exhibition titled ‘Fortune Teller’ will have its opening night. Featuring all-female artists, Selma Hafizović curates the works of Rebecca Ribiccini, Marianna Mauritzio, Iva Laterza, Dubravka Lošić and Jagoda Buić. Honouring the legendary Croatian costume designer Ika Škomrlj Ajki is the Festival exhibition ‘Without compromise’ by Ivana Bakal and Martina Petranović, at Lazareti, opening on 17 July. Partners of the ‘Port of Dreamers’ project, Dubrovnik Summer Festival, Slovene National Theatre Maribor and Novi Sad’s Kulturnova organization will be presenting their final project publication edited by Benjamin Virc. Priest, music historian, musicologist and conductor Miho Demović will be presenting the newest, fifth volume of his book ‘The Great History of Dubrovnik Music, Vol. V’ while award-winning Croatian writer and poet Ivana Bodrožić will hold a literary evening at the Bunić-Kaboga Summer Villa with author Diana Matulić. To celebrate Croatia’s Year of Reading, the Festival prepared a unique programme – ‘The Mediterranean as It Once Was’ – in which the Festival Drama Ensemble will be reading Croatian Mediterranean-themed prose at the Gusto Giusto bistro. Once again, the Festival has partnered with Dubrovnik Cinematographers Society to bring its audiences the award winning Croatian film announced at the Pula Film Festival, which will be screened at the Jadran open-air cinema.
The children’s programme is an indispensable facet of the Festival programme and this year the Festival is happy to announce two treats for our youngest audiences: a musical play for children featuring popular young American pianist and electronic music composer Evan Shinners at the Rector’s Palace and Poco Loco Theatre’s fairy tale to go entitled ‘Little Red Riding Hood, Wolf and Grandma’. In this unusual theatrical event, both young and older audiences will be wearing earphones and enjoying music as they follow the storyline and walk through the wood on Lokrum Island. They will be taken for this merry walk by Little Red Riding Hood, Wolf and Grandma, and the children will have the opportunity to actively participate by completing creative and educational tasks. Additionally, beloved writer Sanja Polak will be reading to children at the Bunić-Kaboga Summer Villa, where a ten day musical-theatre workshop “From Story to Play“, led by Ivana Đula will also take place toward the end of August.
Tickets for all programmes at the 72nd Dubrovnik Summer Festival are available for purchase at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival website www.dubrovnik-festival.hr or via www.ulaznice.hr ticketing service, and at the box office of the Festival Palace (Od Sigurate 1) every day from 9am to 9.30pm. Tickets will also be available on location two hours before the start of the performance. Ticket prices remain significantly reduced due to the economic situation being impacted by the pandemic, up to 50% lower as was the case last year. Purchases made with Mastercard® and Maestro® cards receive a 10% discount while all purchases and orders over 500HRK offer payment in instalments.
As for financial planning, the budget of the 72nd Dubrovnik Summer Festival is more than 1 million euros, which is higher than the last year's budget, while almost 30% of the budget will consist of Festival’s own income, including sponsorships, donations and tickets sales.
All 72nd Dubrovnik Summer Festival programmes are certified as safe gatherings, meaning the events will be organised according to current rules and recommendations by the national and local Civil Protection Headquarters and the World Health Organization, according to which maintaining physical distance of one seat with compulsory face masks has been deemed sufficient for audiences at low-risk events and the attendees are not obligated to present their EU digital COVID pass.