4 August 2020

The promotion of the international edition of the Nikola Šubić Zrinjski CD by the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc was held on the Square of Rijeka Resolution on July 25. Participants included music critic and musicologist Bosiljka Perić Kempf, intendant of the Rijeka Theatre Marin Blažević, conductor maestro Ville Matvejeff, as well as the soloists of the Rijeka Opera: Robert Kolar, the holder of the title role and principal of the Rijeka Opera; national opera principal Kristina Kolar, who played the role of his wife; and Rijeka Opera principals Anamarija Knego and Aljaž Farazin, who performed the roles of Jelena and Juranić.

Marin Blažević began by explaining the context and significance of the Theatre’s repeated collaboration with the renowned production company CPO, while the soloists shared their impressions with the audience of their work on the opera, pointing out the peculiarity of recording CDs during the performance itself, when particular emotional strength is required. The premiere of the opera under the direction of Dora Ruždjak Podolski took place on October 17, 2018 in the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc, and was met with high critical praise and audience enthusiasm.

Below is a review by music critic Bosiljka Perić Kempf on the CD of Nikola Šubić Zrinjski by the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc:

“As the latest result of the cooperation between the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc as the recording company CPO (Classic Produktion Osnabrück), a double-sided CD featuring a recording of Zajc’s opera Nikola Šubić Zrinjski was presented to Rijeka’s cultural public. It was created using live recordings of three performances of Zrinjski on the stage of the Rijeka Theatre between October 17 and 22, 2018.

A great advantage of this CD release is the use of live recorded material, which preserves the best of the above mentioned performances: the overall high performance standard, refreshed by the immediacy of expression and emotional charge of the vocal performers.

In combining the best performing forces of the Rijeka Opera, this Zrinjski reveals itself as a quality production: through a fine sensibility for drama, yet also for the lyrical side of Zajc’s score, conductor Ville Matvejeff brought to life the romantic, heroic atmosphere of the Battle of Siget. The main protagonists, Zrinjski (Robert Kolar), his wife Eva (Kristina Kolar), their daughter Jelena (Anamarija Knego), and Aljaž Farasin as Lovro Juranić, captivate with the beauty of their singing achievements. Particularly striking is Robert Kolar’s thoughtfully studied interpretation of his truly enthusiastically portrayed character of Zrinjski.

Although the audio recording only reveals the musical side of the interpretation, it is sufficient to feel the performance’s charge of positive energy. This certainly overshadows the few imperfections, which in principle are irrelevant in live recordings, and unimportant given the overall impression of this excellent recorded production. Among the soloists, it is worth mentioning Luka Ortara in the role of Suleiman the Magnificent, Giorgio Surian Jr. in the role of Mehmed Sokolović, as well as the excellent choir (conducted by Nicoletta Olivieri) and symphony orchestra. On the side of the record company, the CD is signed by Peter Ghirardini as producer and sound engineer. The booklet contains an extensive, highly informative text about Zajc and his time by musicologist and Germanist Davor Merkaš, written in German with an English translation. Also included are the full text of Badalić’s libretto, also with an English translation, as well as selected photographs from the performance. The cover of the booklet includes a detail of a painting by Johann Peter Krafft: Zrinjski’s Charge from the Fortress of Szigetvár, which is now kept in the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest.

Recommendation: Be sure to listen! This is a quality edition of a CD by a renowned German record company, featuring the most beautiful and most successful Croatian opera of the 19th century.”

The Rijeka audience will be able to once again see and hear the opera Nikola Šubić Zrinjski by Ivan pl. Zajc in the new 20/21 season!


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