100 Years of Ljubljana National Opera and Ballet (Feature, Videos)

By , 12 Apr 2018, 20:46 PM Made in Slovenia
Postcard of the Opera and Ballet Theatre in 1910 Postcard of the Opera and Ballet Theatre in 1910 Wikimedia

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The Ljubljana SNG Opera and Ballet launched celebrations of its centenary on Thursday, remembering the year in which the first opera production premiered and the ballet got its professional ensemble. 

STA, 12 April 2018 - The centenary of the Slovenian opera theatre will be in the focus of this year's Slovenian Music Days, running from 12 to 19 April.

Apart from concerts, the festival will feature an academic conference at which more than 30 musicologists from 16 countries will discuss national opera theatres in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Conference head Jernej Weiss has told the STA that they will focus on the reasons for the current situation in Slovenia and abroad and on milestones in opera trends.

Borut Smrekar, a former manager of the Ljubljana Opera, complained about the poor situation in Slovenia, which is best seen in meagre funding and political staffing.

Smrekar said the funds opera theatre receives from the national budget amounted to approximately half the funds spent on drama theatre.

He said the country's "incompetent and irresponsible cultural policy" had pushed opera into a crisis several decades ago, preventing it to recover even if it had proved its vitality several times.

The ballet's centenary will be celebrated tonight with Ballet 100 - revivals of three short ballets staged by several acclaimed choreographers in the 1940-1986 period.

The new production will enable ballet lovers to get an insight into different periods and "into the backstage of the past", ballet artistic director Sanja Nešković Peršin said at a news conference earlier this week.

Lok (Bow), a dance suite by acclaimed Slovenian ballet couple Pia and Pino Mlakar, was put on stage in 1940, Žica (Wire) by choreographer Vlasto Dedović (1934-2013) in 1976 and Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony was first staged by Milko Šparemblek in 1986.

"Each of the selected choreographers was active on the international scene when they made the shows, and enriched Slovenian ballet with their experiences from abroad," said Nešković Peršin.

By engaging younger choreographers to put these ballets on stage for the centenary, the Opera and Ballet wants to make ballet aficionados to think about how they are perceived today, she explained.

Ballet 100, to be conducted by Marko Gašperšič, is only one in a series of events the Ballet House will organise to celebrate the centenary.

Slovenian opera, and ballet, witnessed a revival immediately after WWI, while there were no shows during the war on the Ljubljana opera stage.

With Slovenian lands part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until the end of the war, theatre was dominated by Germans.

The first opera production in Ljubljana premiered in December 1918. It was Bedrich Smetana's comic opera The Bartered Bride.

In late 1925, Mirko Polič was appointed conductor, a major milestone leading to what it seen as the golden age of Ljubljana opera until 1939.

Ballet was at first integrated into operas, but the first full-fledged ballet production - Jaromir Weinberger's Evelyn's Elopement - premiered already in April 1919.

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