21 July 2020

The “Nessun Dorma” gala concerts featuring the most beautiful opera arias and duets and the premiere of a new version of Händel’s opera, “Julius Caesar in Egypt – Anew” were announced at today’s press conference with much joy on the part of the performers. The opera soloists of the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc eagerly anticipate reuniting with the orchestra to perform once more for the audience, while still carefully adhering to anti-epidemic measures.

The “Nessun Dorma” concerts, led by Italian conductor Beatrice Venezi, will be held at 9 PM on Thursday, July 23 and Saturday, July 25, 2020, on the Square of Rijeka Resolution. Alongside the Rijeka Symphony Orchestra and the Rijeka Opera Choir, the principals of the Rijeka Opera – Kristina Kolar, Anamarija Knego, Ivana Srbljan, Aljaž Farasin, Domagoj Dorotić and Robert Kolar — and other soloists will perform, as well as special guest Diana Haller, honorary member of the Rijeka Opera ensemble.

As intendant Marin Blažević said at the press conference, “concerts with a somewhat different program will demonstrate all the strength of the Rijeka Opera, and will show that the things the Rijeka Opera has achieved in the past five years have not been accidental, but part of a development and progress strategy. […] The Rijeka Opera Ensemble can independently perform the entire mainstream program of opera literature with a fascinating range of titles, from Mozart, Verdi and Puccini to Mascagni’s verismo. In regularly performing French and German works, and even the repertoire of the 20th century, the ensemble of the Rijeka Opera has established itself as one of the strongest in the wider region.”

Maestro Beatrice Venezi, one of the most prominent conductors in the world of Italian opera, expressed her particular happiness that she can finally perform in front of the orchestra again after several months, especially in Rijeka. In addition, she stressed that these concerts will send a special message, namely one of reunion: the reunion of the soloists with the orchestra, the reunion of the performers with the audience, and the reunion of human beings in general and the restoration of at least part of the dimension we have lost over the last few months.

Mezzosoprano Diana Haller, also speaking in regards to the quarantine period caused by the pandemic, pointed out how important it is for opera singers to perform with the orchestra in front of an audience, though with strict adherence to safety measures and recommendations.

“After not working for three months, these concerts are especially important to us. We could, admittedly, practice on our own, but that’s like running without a goal. We are especially happy that the concerts, with extremely careful measures, will be taking place outdoors, on the Square of Rijeka Resolution, where the acoustics are spectacular. I am sure that the audience also feels the need to return to the theatre and the opera, as was especially evident in Italy.”

To conclude the part of the conference concerning the upcoming “Nessun Dorma” concerts, Rijeka soprano Anamarija Knego stated how we “need to let music speak, since that is what we all need most now.”

Announcing the premiere of a new version of Händel’s “Julius Caesar in Egypt,” dramaturge and director Marin Blažević promised the audience a visual spectacle and aesthetic pleasure.

“The special conditions were the impetus for changes in scenography and lighting, and more important is that the four years that have passed since the first premiere have influenced the concept of the play so much that it is ultimately a new, rather than a renewed, play, especially in the dramaturgical and directing segment,” Blažević said. He then explained that the new version of the opera is the “Savonlinna Version,” which was actually created for a guest appearance at the prestigious European Savonlinna Opera Festival, which has been postponed to next summer due to the pandemic, where the opera will be performed in a lakeside castle.

The roles of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra will be performed by Diana Haller and Anamarija Knego, and the soloists will be joined for the first time by Dubravka Šeparović Mušović in the role of Cornelia and Michaela Selinger in the role of Sesto. Maestro Villa Matvejeff will conduct the performance.

The press conference concluded with an announcement of the promotion of the international CD “Nikola Šubić Zrinjski” performed by the Opera of the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc and published by Classic Produktion Osnabrück (CPO) taking place on Saturday, July 25 at 7:30 PM on the Square of Rijeka Resolution, where it will be presented by musicologist and music critic Bosiljka Perić Kempf.


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