Following the last year’s triumphal success and return of the Rijeka Opera in the Arena in Pula, the second Summer Classics Festival of the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc Opera is coming back to the antique amphitheatre in Pula with three exceptional performances, three musical and stage gems.
Verdi’s Aida, with Kristina Kolar in the title role, will be performed on 25th July under the baton of Ville Matvejeff. The famous Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony will be performed on 27th July under the baton of Yordan Kamdzhalov, who is also conducting Bizet’s Carmen, with Ivana Srbljan in the title role, to be premiered on 1st August.
Speaking at the press conference to announce this year’s Summer Classics of the Rijeka CNT, general manager and opera director Marin Blažević pointed out some of the unique features of these performances in Pula. In the first place, it is the very architecture of the Arena that is used as the stage set of the performances, adding that in Carmen, directed exclusively for the Arena, it is the first time that the typical stage space and the auditorium one will be interchanged. The opera will be performed on the stone stands, with a part of the spectators there as well. It is in this way that around two hundred spectators will be integrated into the performance, becoming thus its integral part, which is a guarantee of a unique experience.
“This festival is a great artistic challenge, but also an enormous undertaking. Around one hundred Rijeka Zajc Theatre employees will be commuting daily from Rijeka to Pula, some of them also staying there. However, we believe that, just as it was the case last year, all these efforts will bring about a great attendance rate, namely, more than six thousand spectators”, said Marin Blažević.
Speaking about Aida and Carmen, whose director, i.e., co-author of staging he is, Marin Blažević underlined that the title roles are sung by Kristina Kolar and Ivana Srbljan, two leading Rijeka CNT opera artists, who, next to Anamarija Knego, carry the Theatre repertoire. These roles seem to have been written for them as not only do Kristina and Ivana bring them to the stage singing but also acting with passion and power. Both of them will also perform as soloists in the Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Maestro Yordan Kamdzhalov, chief conductor of the Rijeka Opera Orchestra to conduct the Ninth Symphony and Carmen, announced a Carmen he has not ever seen so far, being certain that it will be a memorable experience for all the spectators. Announcing briefly Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, he said it is one of the highlights of symphonic music overall, with the message of freedom and peace that is highly needed in today’s world.
Kristina Kolar, soprano and national soloist of the Rijeka CNT, who has sung in the role of Aida in eight different Croatian productions and those from abroad, is coming back to Pula again as the heroine of Verdi’s “opera of all operas”. “Although I have actually sung Aida a number of times, this role is still growing and developing in me and over and over again I can find new emotions, new nuances of this character. Last summer, the reaction of the audience was magnificent so that I hope we can repeat that success also this year, the reaction of the audience being of primary importance for us artists”, said Kristina Kolar.
Ivana Srbljan, mezzo-soprano, who sang in the role of Carmen already in a students’ performance, for which she won the Rector’s Award, followed by the one un Split and in Rijeka, then also in Finland, said that the production of Carmen in Pula will be quite intriguing and interesting, she herself not having thought it possible in the beginning. “Although for such a staging and appearance you need to be in a much better shape than the usual one, I can hardly wait for us to arrive to Pula and appear on the stone stands of the impressive historical monument.”
Aljaž Farasin, tenor, who has already appeared more than once in the role of Don Jose next to Ivana Srbljan, thanked the opera director Marin Blažević for helping him discover some completely new dimensions of this character that have matured in him at a new and different level. “It is in Pula that Ivana and I will have the opportunity to show what we have achieved in the last ten years, ever since, as students, we first appeared together as Carmen and Don Jose.”
Petar Kovačić, director of the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc Opera, pointed out in the end that all Rijeka Zajc Theatre forces, both the performing and production ones, are directed to the return of the Rijeka Opera to the Arena in Pula, where in the past it used to be continually and traditionally present with its programmes.
Tickets for the Summer Classics Festival programmes are on sale via the Eventim.hr system, the Rijeka Theatre Box Office, also in Pula, at the Arena Box Office and Trg Portarata (Portarata Square). For all the spectators from Rijeka there is a possibility of the organised bus transport Rijeka – Pula – Rijeka for all the three Summer Classics programmes.
In the end, gratitude was expressed to all the sponsors, partners and friends of the Summer Classics Festival.