Tuesday, 21 May 2024
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

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.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

The 10th edition of the International Opera Festival "Tino Pattiera" was presented at the press conference today that was held at the atrium of the Sponza Palace. This is the fourth time that the festival is organized by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra (DSO).

- Dubrovnik should be proud of this festival that started somehow "shy" and became what it is now. There is also our music director Noam Zur who brings very high quality singers that perform on the world's leading stages. We give them full support in the organizational sense, rehearsals have begun and the Orchestra will be ready - announced the Director of Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, Damir Milat.

Jelka Tepsic, Deputy Mayor of Dubrovnik, said that the festival is another ‘cultural pearl’ of Dubrovnik.
- This is a project that is important to the City of Dubrovnik and it lasts for a whole decade. That confirms the quality and I want to use this opportunity to praise DSO – said Tepsic while announcing a ‘culture calendar’ project that should ensure a better co-operation between cultural institutions and organizers of cultural events in Dubrovnik.


Director of the Tourist Board of Dubrovnik, Romana Vlasic, emphasized the importance of the festival, given that culture and heritage are a big part of Dubrovnik tourism. Armenian soprano and participant of the last and this year's festival, Liana Aleksanyan, expressed gratitude for being invited to participate in the festival. Music Director and conductor from Israel Noam Zur thanked for the support and stated that each concert has a special title for better organization.

The festival, which is named after and organized in memory of the world-famous Cavtat singer and tenor, will be held from 30 June to 4 July. The audience will have the opportunity to hear four operas aria concerts: Chansons d'amour, Seriously Romantic, Opera Buffalo and Guardi le stelle. Alongside Aleksanyan, performances will be performed by mezzo-soprano Ursula Hesse von den Steinen from Germany, tenor Xavier Moreno from Spain, bass Taras Konoschenko from Ukraine and Dubrovnik pianist Stefani Grbic.

The new season of the Festival Orsula is just around the corner. A plethora of international artists will perform in this iconic Dubrovnik amphitheatre and we caught up with one of the stars of the show – Bebel Gilberto. From modern jazz, bossa nova, flamenco music the American/Brazilian Gilberto will open up the festival tomorrow night, the 28th of June, with a spectacular concert.

What is it like to be a singer and songwriter in the world of bossa nova life today? Is it harder than before...to create the music?
It's funny but I don't really consider myself a true bossa nova artist, because my music is a blend of inspirations. I’ve been given that label and have to feel honoured about that, but I like to say that that “I’m drinking from the water of bossa nova”, and my music may have the same mood between my voice, the vibe and acoustic guitar. But I don’t call myself a bossa nova singer compared to artists like my father (João Gilberto), Astrud, and all the real bossa nova singers. I’m just kind of doing my own music that is partly inspired by my family background and being Brazilian, but is also influenced by my life in New York, and also by my some of my favourite pop artists, which is a very diverse list that includes artists like Prince, David Bowie, Chaka Khan, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bjork, Radiohead, etc. In fact, I have a new song that’s about to come out which is my interpretation of “Creep” by Radiohead. I’m currently doing this song in a very intimate style, with just myself and my guitarist, Masa Shimizu. So you will hear that song when we perform in Croatia. I’ve been doing this very intimate, somewhat stripped down version of my music all year, and we’ve created a wonderful semi-acoustic set of many of my most popular songs. It’s a very different vibe than when I play with a bigger band, and it’s been a very special and surprising experience for me. I am doing this with just my guitarist and my drummer, Magrus Borges, and this is the show you will see tomorrow.

bebel 3

Once, you perfectly described the feeling of creating and listening to bossa nova: 'It’s like kissing and listening to the sea in the background with birds flying around.' Each day, you are extending the moment by experimenting with different genres - how and where do you find inspiration?
Well, since the beginning, since I was a kid I was obsessed with Michael Jackson. And in my teens, when I became more aware of other artists I fell in love with Chaka Khan and Prince. The first album I bought when I moved out from my parents and into my own home and I had my first sound system was Chaka Khan. And then I dived into Prince. My boyfriend at the time was a bass player, and we would listen carefully to all the Prince albums and then he played here and it was unforgettable. And I can’t forget Stevie Wonder. His album “The secret Life of Plants” is one of my favourite albums. More recently I’ve also experimenting with some new music that is returning to a more electronic vibe, more like I was doing on my album Tanto Tempo. Last year I went to Tulum and got turned on to all these new DJs who are sort of associated with Burning Man, and using more tribal sounds, including some Brazilian music. People like Acid Pauli, Felipe Torquato (a Brazilian who makes music using the name Spaniol) and Ocean vs Orientalis, who is a very interesting guy from Turkey. So I’ve been talking to some of these guys and working on some material that will hopefully have some of them involved, or doing something in a similar vibe.

What do you think about the venue - Park Orsula, or Dubrovnik in general? Have you ever been to Dubrovnik before?
I have never been to Dubrovnik, and I'm super excited to visit. I also hear that the Park Orsula is very, very beautiful, and I really love playing music outdoors, so I'm really looking forward to the show. One of my favourite videos, for the song “So Nice”, was partially shot outside, and I also recorded a live DVD a few years ago that on the beach in Brazil. So I definitely feel like my music goes well in an outdoor setting, whether I'm playing with a band as we did on the beach, or doing a more intimate set as a trio, like we will do for Park Orsula.

You are into music since your childhood, and from that moment you came to 'Tudo', everything. What was that road like?
I mentioned a minute ago some of the music I listened to as a child – not just Brazilian music, but also the pop music I've loved and been influenced by over the years. In terms of my own musical journey that lead to how I made my albums, a lot of that happened from meeting other interesting musicians or being involved in different projects. For example: When I moved to New York I was invited to do this project about Carmen Miranda with David Byrne, Arto Lindsay, Laurie Anderson and all these cool and interesting artists. Then I moved to London and I met Amon Tobin and started working with him. So by the time I came back to New York City, after Tanto Tempo came out, I started working with Thievery Corporation, and all these other DJs and electronic music producers who I’d never heard before. And many of these people ended up doing remixes for my album. So that was a very interesting time for me and had a big influence on how my music evolved.

bebel gilberto

When you are home alone, you do you enjoy listening to? Are you familiar with Croatian music perhaps?
I listen to Spotify, and make my own playlists. My taste is very eclectic so I listen to a lot of things, but right now I’d say there’s a lot of great music coming from those DJs I mentioned earlier. I’m not familiar with any specific Croatian artists, but one of the first producers I worked with when I started doing my own material was this amazing producer named Suba, who I worked with on Tanto Tempo. Suba was Serbian, and during that period when we were spending time together he used to play a lot of music from that region, which I enjoyed a lot. Maybe when I’m there for this upcoming visit I will get to hear some of the newer Croatian artists.

The iconic Hotel Excelsior was officially opened last night in a gala ceremony. After months of reconstruction work the totally renovated Hotel Excelsior now has a new shine and a modern new look.

With 158 luxury rooms, including 19 suites and 139 double rooms, the Dubrovnik hotel saw root and branch reconstruction works this winter, the first major investment on the hotel since 2008.

The owner of the Adriatic Luxury Hotels group, the company that has Hotel Excelsior in its portfolio, Davor Lukšić thanked everyone for assisting and praised the fact that this hotel with great traditions now has a contemporary look. And Dubrovnik's Mayor Mato Franković addressed the guests. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government of the Republic of Croatia, he welcomed every such contribution to investment in tourism.

Almost half a million Kuna was invested in every room of the Hotel Excelsior and all of the interior spaces have been renovated. The hotel was originally created on the foundations of Ville Odak, built in 1913, which was a luxurious and glamorous hotel. The idea of the reconstruction is to recreate this look and the new look Hotel Excelsior is a revival of the splendid era of the Hotel Excelsior. Over the years many world famous celebrities, national politicians, stars of the silver screen and kings and queens have stayed in the Hotel Excelsior and the new look Excelsior is once again a highlight of Dubrovnik’s tourism.

excelsior opens

hotel excelsior reopens

reopen hotel dubrovnik

Photos - Tonci Plazibat 

Iran's economic delegation headed by the Iranian Minister of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Affairs Ali Rabel will attend the Croatian-Iranian economic forum in Zagreb on the 27th of June.

''Despite business obstacles, the relationship between our businessmen is good and perspective. We are cooperating for mutual benefit. The fact that Croatia has never been visited by such strong Iranian economic delegation, confirms it. Improvement of cooperation has a great potential in the automotive industry, oil and gas sector, electro energy sector, railway industry, food industry and shipbuilding'', commented Luka Burilovic, the president of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK).

The Iranian delegation consists of representatives of companies and institutions from the petrochemical industry, agriculture, railway industry, pharmacy, metal industry, electro energetic industry, and shipping.

Last year a total value of Croatia's trade with Iran was $5 million, which was an increase in comparison to 2015.

The Paris Agreement dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance came into force in Croatia on the 23rd of June 2017.

All member countries of the European Union have committed themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for at least 40 percent by 2030 in order to mitigate effects of global warming and stop a further rise in air temperature.

''Croatia will dedicatedly fulfil its obligations from the Paris Agreement as well as other member countries of the EU and the world that have ratified this extremely important document. We are aware of the consequences of global warming that occur in our region as well'', commented Tomislav Coric, the Minister of Environmental Protection and Energy while referring to floods and longer periods of drought in the country.

Representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris signed the agreement and adopted it by consensus on the 12th of December 2015. As of June 2017, 195 members of the UNFCCC have signed the agreement, out of which 150 of them have ratified it. Croatia is the 147th country, which has ratified the agreement.

The main goal of the agreement is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, said the Ministry.

According to climate models and scenarios, experts estimate that by 2100 temperatures in Croatia will rise from 2.4 to 4.9 Celsius degrees. A general trend of extreme droughts and floods is also present and is disastrous to all human activities. Global climate change also effects sea temperature and salinity thus changes structure and functioning of the ecosystem.

A long coastal line makes Croatia very vulnerable to sea level rising. Coastal sensitivity to sea level rise has also been observed in historic cores of cities and towns such as Nin, Zadar, Sibenik, Split, Stari Grad, and Dubrovnik. However, the valley of the River Neretva is also vulnerable to sea-level changes, said the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Energy.

A trend of recreating old photos has been around for years and we must say that we are quite fond of it. It’s simple – same person goes to the same place and takes the same position – showing how much they changed through years.

However, photo that we bumped into  is a bit different. Apparently it shows a daughter, who took photo on Dubrovnik City Walls, at exactly same place like her mother did 40 years ago.

Old City of Dubrovnik it looks quite the same (beautiful as always), with just couple of differences. A great idea for sure!



What could be more beautiful than spending Sunday away from the crowds? Lokrum is like an oasis, with beautiful nature, rocks and sea that is so inviting that you just have to jump in. And many did jump, relax, swim and walk - and inspired photographer Zeljko Tutnjevic to make beautiful photos.

Take a look at photo gallery and feel Lokrum magic.

The International Day of Yoga was marked on Saturday in Dubrovnik. On the tranquil island of Lokrum various yoga associations from the city joined together for a session of yoga surrounded by peacocks and glorious Mediterranean nature. It was a day of yoga and meditation and breathing exercises in the Dubrovnik sunshine.

The Ambassador of the Republic of India in Croatia, His Excellency Mr. Sandeep Kumar, and the special representative of the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Miho Katušić, also attended the celebration of yoga on Lokrum.

According to the UN around 2 billion people around the world practise yoga, the International Day of Yoga was introduced on the 11 December 2014 following a decision from the UN.

yoga dubrovnik lokrum

lokrum yoga


The Voice of Dubrovnik


Find us on Facebook