The conductor of impressive gestures and a warm heart has left us

8 March 2021

Maestro Miroslav Homen, the long-time chief conductor of the orchestra of the Opera of the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc and director of the Rijeka Opera for the 1992/1993 season and the 1993/1994 season, has died. He left us forever at the age of 81 years in Kotor.

Many people from Rijeka vividly remember the plays and concerts he performed, a whole series of opera and ballet performances; in addition to symphonic concerts, he also conducted many commemorative and educational concerts. He held his last performance in Rijeka at the end of 2015 when, as in the previous year, he conducted the New Year’s concerts with his son Robert.

The renowned conductor was born in Dubrovnik in 1940. In 1966, he graduated from the Sarajevo Music Academy’s Department of Composition and Conducting. The same year, he became conductor of the Sarajevo Opera and Ballet. From 1971 he served as a part-time associate of the Academy of Music for choir and choral singing, and starting in 1986 he was an associate professor for the study of opera roles and opera rehearsal. He was a regular guest conductor of the Sarajevo Philharmonic and the RTV Sarajevo Orchestra. From 1988 to 1990 he was director of the Sarajevo Opera and the Sarajevo Philharmonic. For thirty years he was conductor of the student choir Slobodan Princip Seljo from Sarajevo, with whom he won first prizes at international competitions in Italy and England. As a guest conductor, he performed in all theatres of the former Yugoslavia and in many European countries.

In 1992, during the war, he came to Rijeka, to the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc where he took over the job of conductor. He was director of the Opera for two seasons, and chief conductor until his retirement in late 2006.

“I share the enthusiasm of the orchestra and the entire ensemble of the Rijeka Opera for the fact that Maestro Homen, an artist of great renown, is with us at this difficult time. As soon as he left war-torn Sarajevo, we offered him the position of conductor in Rijeka, knowing that the arrival of such an artist, with great experience and temperament, was precious for Rijeka,” said the then intendant Drago Crnčević on Maestro Homen’s arrival at the Rijeka CNT.

In 1998 he received the Milka Trnina Award for conducting the operas Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi and Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, both produced and performed by the Opera of the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka.

Verdi’s Rigoletto, which he conducted in 1996, is one of the most award-winning performances in the history of the Rijeka National Theatre and one of the most award-winning opera performances in Croatia in general. Regarding that performance, music critics wrote of Maestro Homen: “The show was expertly conducted by Maestro Homen, a conductor who always realizes the beauty of Verdi’s melodies,” and “Miroslav Homen, a conductor of great experience, impressive gestures and a warm heart, especially for romantic opera and choral art, is well credited with both the integrity and the musical highlights of the performance.”

With the revival of Rigoletta at the beginning of 2006, he also marked the 40th anniversary of his artistic activity when he emphasized that despite invitations from other cities, he never regretted coming to work in Rijeka.