Zadnje novosti...
Uvjeti korištenja i pravila privatnosti
© Hrvatsko narodno kazalište u Varaždinu

Nataša Maričić, Glazbeno kazalište u Varaždinu

Nataša Maričić


Musical Theatre in Varaždin

Continuity of Trying and Giving Up


The entire history of the musical theatre in Varaždin could be placed in the gap “between desire and reality”, as Krešimir Filić titled his contribution in the monograph published on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the theatre building in Varaždin (Filić.1973:15). And if there is anything constant in that history, it is the change of efforts and giving up to build it. Music has been an important framework for dramatic performances ever since the presence of any form of theatrical activity in the town1 has been known, and parallel and independent of the theatre there was a musical life and various musical societies were formed over time, one of the first public music schools was founded in these spaces, which enabled, on the one hand, the professionalization of the practice of music, and on the other, an increasingly educated audience. Despite this, apart from short episodes, it has not been possible to build or maintain a permanent musical theatre in Varaždin.

Since the building of the Theatre was built, Varaždin has had its own, permanent musical ensemble on two occasions and, in this sense, continuous music and stage seasons2, in 1915 – 1922 and 1948 – 1963, while after obtaining the status of a national theatre in 2013, musical and stage activity tries to revive/maintain with one or two projects a year.


The First Permanent Musical Theatre

The first permanent musical theatre was started by Andro Mitrović3 when, with the support of the City, he founded the City Theatre as a permanent Croatian theatre in Varaždin in 1915. It was with musical performances that he began and concluded his work here: the performance of the operetta The Faithful Friend by Emmerich Kálmán, on December 11, 1915, opened the first season of his management, while he guested with the operettas The Rose of Stamboul and The Dance into Happiness in the Zagreb Music Hall, from June 1 to the end of July 1922, when his administration ended. The ensemble formed by Mitrović consisted primarily of dramatic actors who also sang in musical performances (e. g. Augustin Cilić, Zvonimir Rogoz, Josip Martinčević, Berta Bukšek, etc.) and, to a lesser extent, singers (Ančica Mitrović4, Evka Mikulić5, Margita Dubajić6) who acted in dramatic plays as needed. In the beginning, the orchestra was numerous and composed of musicians from the City Orchestra and amateurs, however, it quickly began to fall apart, due to the war conditions and fewer and fewer available musicians, and due to the decreasing financial support of the City proper.7 And yet, despite all the difficulties and occasional setbacks, in the 1917-1918 season. the musical theatre operated only partially, and in 1919-1920 musical performances were not given at all. Mitrović persisted in the musical theatre until the end of his administration in 1922, and immediately after the war, in the 1918-1919 season, he even staged more demanding musical and stage works: Flotow’s operas Stradella and Martha, thanks to the revived orchestra, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, Parma’s Ksenia and the 8th scene from Zajc’s Nikola Šubić Zrinski, in which he engaged professional singers, such as Henrika Korska, Ančica Mitrović, Milan Šepec, Ervin Vilković and Ilija Bagrov. In total, during his administration, i. e. in less than seven years, 29 operettas and vaudevilles8, 11 folk plays with singing9 and the aforementioned opera were performed on the stage of the Varaždin theatre. All musical performances were directed by Mitrović himself, only in the last season he occasionally left the conductor’s desk to Cyril Pecháček, and together with Zvonimir Rogoz, he most often directed them himself.


Permanent Musical Theatre – the Second Time

For the second time, Varaždin got a permanent musical theatre after the Second World War. Under the leadership of Franjo Nadaši10, the orchestra was assembled already in the fall of 1945, and the first performance was staged at the beginning of the year 194611. The orchestra is made up of professional musicians, however, they quickly give up, since they are expected to work without compensation, while the conductor Nadaši found a permanent position in the reactivated military orchestra. In the fall of 1947, Josip Vrhovski12 became the conductor of the Theatre Orchestra. He reunites musicians and manages to secure financial support from the City, so at the end of 1948 an independent theatre orchestra was founded, which operated until the musical part of the ensemble was abolished in 1963. The orchestra initially consisted of 22 musicians, and over time it was increased to 32 permanent members (Varjačić.2007:23) and sometimes, as needed, supplemented with musicians from the Military Orchestra of the then Yugoslav National Army. There is also a choir made up of part-time singers, and the soloists, along with occasional guests, the regulars: Ankica Opolski13, Regina Čanić14, Zinka Milinković15, Nada Kahn16, and Rudolf Ljubić17.

During fifteen years, the ensemble was led by eight conductors. Apart from Vrhovski, Teodor Romanić (1952 – 1955) and Davorin Hauptfeld (1956 – 1961)18 left the deepest mark in designing the repertoire and working with musicians. The others operated in transitional periods or as replacements: 1951-1952. Karlo Radinger19 and Petar Fabijančić took turns at the conductor’s desk, Ćiro Ernoić conducted the promenade concerts in 1952 – 1955, and Nikola Jambrošić20 was the deputy conductor in 1948 – 1955. In the penultimate season, 1961-1962, the conductor was Zdenko Peharda21. The repertoire is operetta. An exception is Rossini’s opera The Barber of Seville, staged in 1955-1956, with the participation of soloists from the Zagreb Opera directed by Nando Roja, and Weill & Brecht’s The Threepenny Opera in the 1961-1962 season directed by Tomislav Durbešić. A total of 23 musical performances were staged, of which 21 were operettas22. The directors of the operetta were Rudolf Opolski, Đuka Trbuhović, Vid Fijan, Slavko Andres, Milan Drašković, Janko Marinković, Vladimir Gerić, Rudolf Posavec, Janko Žganjar, Borivoj Šembera, Mladen Feman and Slavko Midžor.


Operetta “Helps Support the Theatre”

The declarative agreement of the city authorities with the musical theatre and, on the other hand, the reluctance to provide funds for a permanent musical ensemble – the orchestra in the best times had about thirty musicians, and there were mainly two permanent professional singers, the rest were performed either by guest singers or by actors who also sing – in those two periods, the creation of a serious musical theatre was impossible. This is the form that was promoted both during Mitrović’s administration and after the Second World War, when the musical part of the theatre ensemble – the operetta – was renewed. As a lighter, entertaining genre, operetta is a means of attracting audiences, but also, in Mitrović’s time, a means of raising money for serious projects.23 Mitrović will explicitly write this in his farewell booklet: “I mainly insisted on drama, and operetta only to the extent that it helps support the theatre. In the third and fifth seasons, I actually tried to work without the operetta – but it didn’t work out and I had to – because the need arose – turn to it again. (1922:3)” And further: “… I could not always satisfy my artistic taste, but I had to – struggling with various difficulties – make various concessions: sometimes to the money, sometimes to the taste of the broadest masses, which I wanted to attract to the theatre. (1922:4)” Jerko Gržinčić24 wrote similarly in the early 1950s: “Operetta generally means the decadence of musical art, but we cannot deny it, especially since it attracts a wider audience and thus creates a wider circle of theatre friends. (Filić. 1972:115)”


Rich Musical Life of the City

It was the presence of a permanent theatre music ensemble that stimulated an intense and rich musical life in the city. As far as his financial circumstances allowed, Mitrović had already organized concerts and guest appearances by prominent domestic and visiting musical artists and ensembles.25 The same practice was taken over by the Theatre after 1945. Independently and partly in cooperation with the Society of Friends of Music26, the Theatre organized a number of chamber concerts and solo recitals from the end of the 40s to the beginning of the 60s27.

Whether it organized a musical program or provided a performance space, the Theatre thus additionally contributed to the creation of a lively and rich musical life of the city in which numerous top artists participated, where, in addition to the most prominent local artists, extremely interesting foreign musicians28 also appeared on the concert programs. In addition to all that, the Theatre Orchestra, united with the Military Orchestra of the Yugoslav National Army in the Symphony City Orchestra at the National Theatre (Filić. 1972:113), from 1950, in addition to the regular music and stage season, also had a concert season with three to seven concerts a year. Concert programs usually consisted of a shorter orchestral piece (most often an overture), a solo concert or concert/opera arias and a symphony that does not require a large orchestra. The orchestra was accompanied by a number of prominent Croatian and foreign soloists such as violinists Ivo Kvirigin, Josip Klima, Branko Pajević, Vladimir Marković and Jean Fournier, singers Nada Puttar Gold, Marijana Radev, Dragica Martinis, Mirjana Dančuo, Regina Čanić, Tugomir Alupović , Noni Žunec, Drago Bernardić and Josip Gostić, pianists Melita Lorković, Pavica Gvozdić, Dora Gušić, Ivo Maček, Darko Lukić, Jurica Murai, Stjepan Radić, Krešo Pascuttini, Zlata Feller, Peter Frankl, Marjorie Mitchell, Theodor Lettvin, Ranko Filjak, Zorka Loos-Depolo, Fred Došek and Vladimir Krpan, cellist Marijan Jerbić, flautist Vladimir Kondres, hornist Stjepan Rabuzin and harpist Rajka Dobronić. Soloists were also musicians from Varaždin, then teachers at the Music School, Desa Jovanović, Mira Radej and Čedomil Vrbos, and the orchestra was often conducted by Vladimir Ščedrov in the second half of the 1950s. Sometimes the concerts were devoted to a special theme. Such, for example, was the concert dedicated to Franz Schubert on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of his death. Then, under the direction of Teodor Romanić, his 5th and 8th symphonies and the Rosamunde overture were performed with an introduction by Jerko Gržinčić. Likewise, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, a series of concerts were held, and at one of them his Requiem was performed, entirely with local musicians30. There were also extensive projects such as concert performances of Verdi’s operas Rigoletto and Traviata with the participation of Zagreb and local soloists.


Abolition of Musical Theatre – the Second Time

With or without musicians from the Military Orchestra, the Theatre Orchestra also participated in the evenings of popular arias from operas and operettas, held promenade concerts, then concerts in working collectives, special concerts for city and state celebrations, and sometimes with special programs (such as an evening of baroque music) performed in a reduced composition as a chamber orchestra.

Constantly maintaining a balance between entertaining musical theatre and occasional concerts on the one hand, and more and more serious and demanding concert programs on the other, the Theatre Orchestra has strongly grown into the musical life of the city. The Association of Opera and Symphony Musicians of Yugoslavia awarded it a prize of 600,000 dinars for such work in 1960 and declared it the best orchestra in the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia that year, and music critic Đorđe Šaula in 1962 in the Varaždin News equated the wealth of the city’s musical life with musical life of larger cities – the musical life of Varaždin is in miniature the musical life of Zagreb (Varaždinske vijesti. 1962). None of this helped, however, when in the fall of 1963 the City abolished the musical part of the theatre ensemble. With the disbanding of the Theatre Orchestra, the intensity of other musical events also dropped quickly. In the following few years, they were reduced to rare guest performances of opera and operetta performances, as well as occasional concerts of chamber and choral music and solo recitals.


Varaždina – a Musical Reference Point

Nevertheless, although the void created by the abolition of the orchestra, which had grown into the city’s everyday life, has not disappeared, and the absence of a structured musical life is still a sore point of the city today. Based on the legacy of the Theatre Orchestra, a number of musical institutions, events and ensembles have developed and grown out of it, which will significantly define Varaždin on the musical map of Croatia and beyond. Thus, for example, the close cooperation between the School of Music and the Theatre Orchestra – the school’s teachers were often also members of the orchestra, and their students filled in the orchestra parts if necessary – encouraged the opening of pedagogical programs that trained the profiles of orchestral musicians who were missing in the orchestra, so among other things, accordingly, in 1952, the Ministry of Education approved the opening of a high school of music in Varaždin, which enabled its continuous growth, through which it has educated an impressive number of professional musicians and created a cultured musical audience. Based on the legacy of the rich musical life that the Theatre Orchestra carried and the need for its fullness that created it, the Varaždin Baroque Evenings were started in 1971. At one point, at the end of the 70s and the first half of the 80s of the last century, on the wave of musical professionalization and specialization, the jazz scene flourished in the theatre, and the jazz trio The Impulses, whose musicians were Mario Jajetić, Nenad Šimunčić and Mladen Bregović, worked inside the theatre, not only with his improvisational skills, but also with his original music, significantly enriched domestic jazz production. On the tradition of orchestral music that was built by the Theatre Orchestra, the Varaždin Chamber Orchestra was founded 30 years after its abolition as an artistic association with its seat and centre of activity in the Theatre’s Concert Hall, where it regularly holds a season of five concerts. In relation to its origin, each of these musical institutions, manifestations or repertory-profiled and specialized ensembles, is a step further in performance skills, creating in Varaždin a musical point of reference in terms of performance, education, repertoire and authorship. Many male and female singers, conductors and orchestral musicians from various backgrounds worked here in both periods of musical theatre. For many, the Varaždin theatre was the starting point or a place of maturation for their later respectable careers, and their presence, their work, their professional standards and criteria created the basis on which the present-day musical life of the city rests in all its aspects. In the fissure “between desire and reality” in which the artistically questionable repertoire of musical theatre, already quite anachronistic in the 50s, limited by the expectations of the environment and the modesty of material resources, gradually and almost imperceptibly began to appear, other forms of musical existence, creating a tradition that after the musical part of the theatre ensemble was cancelled again, it was no longer possible to cancel it. In the dynamic period of construction and demolition, new cracks were created through which it would break through and germinate in completely unexpected places and in unexpected forms, always a step more clearly profiled and more professionally positioned, relying more and more on the musicians it raised herself, meeting the audience it created and pampered itself.


The Third Attempt to Create Musical Theatre

Encouraged by the status of a national house that the Theatre received in 2013, the third attempt to create a musical theatre arose from the same dynamics. Admittedly, without an attempt to establish a permanent orchestra, without the involvement of permanent soloists and choirs, as well as in the case of dance performances without permanent dancers. Together with research into the repertoire and forms of musical theatre that would best suit the possibilities of this theatre and at the same time profile it, the project of gathering of musicians from show to show, i. e. putting already finished shows under the auspices of the theatre company, as in the case of co-production dance and dance-drama performances, resulted is performances of various and diverse forms, types and genres ranging from dramatic performances whose inseparable part is musical numbers32 or in which more extensive adapted musical and dance numbers are integrated based on certain music-dramatic forms of the past33, through dance performances34 or dance-drama performances in which music is an inseparable, but mostly secondary, supporting element35, to musical performances – musical36, operetta37 and opera38. But, compared to the first two periods, with a strong turn towards artistic musical theatre.  Of the sixteen plays that were created in this last period of the revival of the Varaždin musical theatre, seven of them belong to musical theatre in the narrower sense, of which four are operas, the last two from the contemporary repertoire. With two exceptions (Countess Maritza and the musical The Music of My Heart, which in that part were not the responsibility and at the expense of the Varaždin’s Croatian National Theatre), all musical performances are based on small instrumental ensembles and a few soloists. The core of the author team is usually the same: the conductors are Stjepan Vuger and Matija Fortuna, and the director of the largest number of musical performances is Ozren Prohić. The performing ensemble, on the other hand, in each new project is made up of other musicians, most often soloists and members of instrumental ensembles – connected to Varaždin by education, residence or both. Although the project approach is not the most successful solution for creating a stable ensemble, and then repertoire continuity and, consequently, shaping a recognizable musical and stage aesthetic, and although the Varaždin musical theatre has not yet been definitively profiled in this sense, the latest performances point to the establishment of a contemporary chamber music theatre anchored in the musical community of their own environment.


From Anachronistic to Contemporary Musical Theatre

In the first version of the project for the theatre building, the concert hall was not planned (Filić. 1955:26). Only after a public discussion, the desire of the citizens to have a redoute hall in the theatre was respected, and it was added to the project, and it was made so that it could instantly become a concert hall, which is what it is used for today. Although nothing special – similar multi-purpose buildings were being built at that time and elsewhere – this detail is interesting for two reasons. The first refers to the future importance and interweaving of musical theatre with the entire musical life of the city. The second is on the ambivalence of the environment’s relationship to the theatre building, which defines it not only as a centre of art, but also as a place of entertainment. At the same time, we should not forget the historical and economic context, the fact that part of the tradition that was created in that part of Europe where musical theatre originated and where it quickly took root, the history of musical theatre is missing in our area. Because opera is a form born out of intellectual leisure and unimaginable wealth. The debates, experiments and solutions of the Florentines at the end of the 16th century would have remained just a note in the history of European music if Claudio Monteverdi had not transposed them with his marvellous musical imagination into a performance for Vincenzo Gonzaga’s carnival court ceremony. Supported and performed in the extremely rich surroundings of the Gonzaga Palace in Mantua in 1607, with this Monteverdi’s favola in musica – and it is, of course, LOrfeo – opera was created as a strange, magical form, the form of an extremely and exclusively spoiled and demanding aristocratic class. And it remained like that until the beginning of the 18th century, when finally the obstinacy of its musical-content resistance began to melt before the democratization that began with the opening of public opera houses in the 1730s in Venice. And while in its splendid form it continued to be nurtured through court operas that would be transformed into state operas in the 20th century, its younger offshoot, with themes adapted to the demands of the civil audience, had to be satisfied with the economic power of that same audience, which means simpler stage solutions and more modest musical performance requirements. And the only such could have been the repertoire of the traveling Italian and German opera companies that brought opera to our region at the end of the 18th century. The repertoire that in the 19th century, after the creation of the operetta, will be increasingly expanded with operettas and will then spill over into musical theatres, which will gradually form in our region at the end of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century.

An unequal starting position, that, in every possible sense, a position “between desire and possibility”, determined the history of the Varaždin musical theatre as a path from trivial and anachronistic to, at least judging by the last performances, a possible contemporary, engaged and powerful musical theatre that applies to us. In all the segments that define it, this transformation was made possible by its musical ensembles, established and then abolished.


1           This refers to plays performed by students of the Jesuit college in the 17th century. Although there is no direct data on the inclusion of music in Varaždin’s student performances, based on the fact that in 1661 Ivan Zakmardi bought a building for the Seminary of poor students, singers and musicians and that “… in Zakmardi’s dormitory, the Jesuits supported a certain number of singers and musicians” (Vanino) and the widespread practice throughout Europe according to which “…Baroque symbolizes the introduction of music into plays, which was certainly present in Jesuit performances…” so “…many plays had music and dance parts. …” (Budak), it can be assumed that in the Varaždin plays, the musical points were also included in the Jesuit school plays.

2           In all likelihood, music was also largely present in the performances of the first permanent Croatian theatre in Varaždin under the direction of Adolfo Femen. Among other things, the announcement on the poster for the performance of Vojnović’s Equinox from February 17, 1898 points to this: “Between the second and third acts, a large ‘symphonic intermezzo’ that is intended to represent the unfathomable poetry of the storm with theatrical scenery and music. The intermezzo is followed by a complete city music band under the direction of the kapelmaster, Mr. Vjek. Rosenberg-Ružić.” From the same announcement, it can be read that Femen did not have its own musical ensemble. Nevertheless, in the short time, from January 30 to April 17, 1898, as long as the Theatre operated under his management, he managed to put on stage 37 performances, including plays with singing, and the last play he staged was the operetta Matek and Janica by the Varaždin author, poet and writer Ljudevit Varjačić and composer Anton Stöhr, with Gabriela Horvat in the lead role, who later, from 1903 to 1929, became the champion of the National Theatre in Prague. (Varjačić. 2007:50)

3           Mitrović, Andro (1879 – 1940), conductor, composer and director, is one of the most versatile musical and theatrical personalities of his time. He discovered and educated a number of young talented actors and musicians. He started his studies at the Croatian Music Institute in Zagreb (I. Zajc) and completed them at the Prague Conservatory. Before arriving in Varaždin, he worked as a conductor in Ljubljana, Šibenik, Rijeka and Zagreb and as director of the opera in Osijek. After Varaždin, he was the director of the Maribor Opera for nine years (1922-1931), and then headed the opera studio at the Academy of Music in Zagreb.

4           Mitrović, Ančica (1894 – 1986) started her career as an operetta soubrette. She was engaged in Varaždin from 1916 to 1922. She played in many dramas and sang leading roles in operettas. Apart from Varaždin, she was engaged as an operetta singer in Osijek, Ljubljana, Maribor and Zagreb. In the period from 1928 to 1932, she worked in Germany, where she established herself in the opera repertoire. From 1932, she was the champion of the Zagreb Opera House. She played 138 roles, and often performed as a concert singer.

5           Mikulić, Evka (1891 – 1970) was engaged in Varaždin in the first season, 1915-1916. After Varaždin, she went to Vienna, where she improved her singing skills. Until 1921, she was a singer in various opera houses in Germany, and after her return in the Opera in the National Theatre in Osijek, National Theatre in Novi Sad and in the Belgrade Operetta. After 1930, she no longer sang, but devoted herself exclusively to acting. From 1930 to 1945, she was a member of the National Theatre in Belgrade, and after the war, the Belgrade Drama Theatre.

6           Balassa Dubajić, Margita (1903 – 1986) was engaged in Varaždin, where she began her career, from 1919 to 1922. She first performed as an actress, and then very quickly as a singer. With her husband Dejan Dubajić, an actor, operetta singer and director, she who was also involved in the Varaždin theatre, she formed one of the most successful theatre tandems in our theatre history. From 1926 to 1940, she was a member of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, where she performed in a number of operetta roles. It was one of the most popular operetta soubrette of the Zagreb theatre between the two world wars. She was also one of the first film actresses of Croatian sound films, performing in the revue Here We Are in 1931 according to the script and to the music of Ivo Tijardović.

7           According to K. Filić, Mitrović often helped himself with piano accompaniment and several amateurs. (August Cesarec National Theatre in Varaždin 1873 – 1955. 1955. Edited by Filić: 56.)

8           According to Mitrović’s own list: I. Zajc, The Sleepwalker; S. Albini, Madame Troubadour, E. Eysler, Artists’ Blood, The Woman-Eater; L. Fall, Das Puppenmädel, Interrogated Woman, The Rose of Stamboul; B. Granichstaedten, By Order of the Empress; J. Gilbert, Queen Christina; F. Herve, Mam’zelle Nitouche, Lili; E. Kálmán, Czardas Princess, The Good Comrade, Autumn Maneuvers; W. Kollo, Film Magic; F. Lehár, Count Luxemburg, Shabby Dresser, Gypsy Love, Blue Mazurka, Where the Lark Sings; Marić, Flower Seller; O. Nedbal, Poljačka krv; R. Planquette, Les cloches de Corneville; A. Renyi, Little Count; R. Stolz, The Dance into Happiness; O. Strauss, Rund um die Liebe; F. Suppe, Beautiful Galatea; F. Schubert – H. Berte, Three Little Girls; K. Zeller, The Birdman. (Mitrović, Andro. 1922. Seven Seasons of the Civic Theatre in Varaždin 1915/16 – 1921/22 under the Direction of Managing Director Andro Mitrović, Varaždin. Page 13.

9           According to Mitrović’s own list: J. Freudenreich, The Border Guards, Black Queen; I. Okrugić, Šokica; J. E. Tomić, Baron Francis Trenck; B. Buchbinder, He and His Sister; K. Costa – C. Milöcker, Devil Woman; B. Jenbach – H. Dostal, Ursulla; E. Kuhn, Poor Girl; F. J. Raimund, The Prodigal; J. Nestroy, The Evil Spirit; Röder – Konradin, Robert and Bertram. (Mitrović. 1922:13-14)

10         Franjo Nadasy/Nadaši (1906 – 1987) was a conductor and music pedagogue. In 1932, he passed the exam for the kapelmaster of the chamber orchestra at the Academy of Music in Zagreb, and from 1931 to 1941, he was the leader of the railway band in Varaždin. During the Second World War, he was interned in the camp in Kraljevica, where he conducted a small orchestra. After the capitulation of Italy, he joined the partisans, where he participated in the work of a theatre company in the liberated territory. After the war, he conducted the orchestra of the City Theatre and the Yugoslav National Army Orchestra in Varaždin. He was active until the first half of the 1950s.

11         It was the operetta My Sister and I by R. Benatzky, and very soon after it The Land of Smiles by F. Lehar was staged, in both performances with Ankica Rucner (later Opolski) in the lead role.

12         Josip Vrhovski (1902 – 1983) was a composer, conductor and pedagogue. In Varaždin, he was the conductor of the Theatre Orchestra (1947 – 1951) and the director of the Music School (1945 – 1951). Apart from Varaždin, he worked as a conductor and pedagogue in Split (1951 – 1953), Karlovac (1953 – 1963) and Zagreb (1934 – 1945 and from 1963).

13         Ankica Opolski (1913 – 1997) was the operetta champion in the Varaždin theatre in 1945 – 1947 and 1951 – 1952. From 1952, she was a singing teacher at the Music School in Varaždin. She educated several internationally extremely successful singers (Ruža Pospiš Baldani, Franjo Petrušanec, Vlatka Oršanić, Inga Heinl), thanks to which Varaždin gained the reputation of a city with a rich musical tradition and a source of musical talents.

14         Regina Čanić (1914 – 1997) was engaged in the Varaždin theatre from 1950 to 1953. At the same time, she taught singing at the Varaždin School of Music. After Varaždin, he went to the Croatian National Theatre in Osijek, where in the period between 1953 and 1965 she was an operetta champion. She also sang solo roles in Opera and acted in Drama.

15         Zinka Milinković (1924 – ?) was engaged in 1953 – 1955.

16         Nada Kahn (1930) was engaged in 1957 – 1962.

17         Rudolf Ljubić (1921 – ?) was engaged in 1953 – 1963.

18         Teodor Romanić (1926 – 2019) and Davorin Hauptfeld (1931 – 2004) started their careers in Varaždin and both were extremely successful after leaving. Romanić was the director of the Opera and Philharmonic in Sarajevo and professor and dean at the Music Academy there, while Hauptfeld was the conductor and then the director (1981-1985) of the Opera and Ballet of the Ivan pl. Zajc National Theatre in Rijeka and assistant professor at the Department of Conducting at the Academy of Music in Zagreb. As opera and concert conductors, both of them also toured in their homeland and abroad.

19         Karlo Radinger (1906 – 1971) was a pianist and conductor. He graduated from the Academy of Music in Zagreb, and studied in Vienna. He is a pioneer of jazz in Zagreb. Before the Second World War he mainly performed as a jazz musician. After the war, he worked as an accompanist at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb (1947-1949) and conducted the orchestras of the Zagreb Comedy, the National Theatre in Zadar, Varaždin, the Croatian National Theatres in Osijek and Split. He directed opera, operetta and ballet performances with equal success.

20         Ćiro Ernoić and Nikola Jambrošić were orchestral musicians who occasionally replaced permanent conductors. Nikola Jambrošić (1921 – 1993) was also the concert master of the orchestra, and he performed several times as a soloist at the concerts of the Varaždin Symphony Orchestra. He replaced Teodoro Romanić when the latter was serving his military service. After Varaždin, he went to Osijek, where he was the concertmaster of the Croatian National Theatre Orchestra (1953 – 1957), then concertmaster of the Zagreb Radio Television Symphony Orchestra (1957 – 1965), after which he went first to Cairo (1965 – 1966), where he is a member of the Chamber Orchestra there, and then to Oslo, where he is the concertmaster of the Norwegian Opera (1966 – 1972). He met his retirement as a member of the Croatian National Theatre Orchestra in Zagreb.

21         Zdenko Peharda (1923 – 2014) was a conductor, pianist, trombonist and jazz musician. He worked as a conductor at the Opera in Rijeka, Comedy Zagreb City Theatre and National Theatre in Varaždin. After Varaždin, he went to Oslo, where he was a professor at the State Opera School from 1964 and a long-time choir director at the Norwegian Opera. He gained an exceptional reputation in Norway, so that his portrait hangs in the new Oslo Opera House, near the entrance to the director’s office.

22         From 1945, they are by season: 1945-46: R. Benatzky, My Sister and I; F. Lehar, The Land of Smiles; 1946-47: F. Herve, Mam’zelle Nitouche; I. Tijardović, Little Floramy; 1947-48: J., Beneš, On a Green Meadow; 1950-51: F. Lehar, Where the Lark Sings; 1952-53: E. Kálmán, Silva; Dj. Prejac, The Eternal Bridegroom; 1953-54: O. Strauss, The Charm of the Waltz; E. Kálmán, Countess Martza; 1954-55 – E. Kálmán: The Bayadere; 1955-56 – F. Lehar: Count Luxemburg; P. Abraham: Victoria and the Hussar; 1956-57 – I. Tijardović, Split Watercolour; S. Albini, Baron Trenck; 1957-58: J. Gotovac, Đerdan; F. Lehar, Where the Lark Sings (new play); N. Briksi/Lj. Kuntarić, Hotel Maestral; 1958-59: E. Kálmán, Silva; R. Benatzky, At the White Horse; 1959-60: N. Dostal, Clivia; K. Zeller, The Birdman; 1960-61: F. Herve, Mam’zelle Nitouche (renewed performance); O. Nedbal, Poljička krv. (National Theatre in Varaždin 1861-1941-1961. 1961. Nova scena 4. 34. – 48.)

23         Although he was first and foremost a conductor, or precisely because of that, Mitrović insisted on musical theatre, not for artistic reasons, but above all for financial reasons. Each new operetta performance, namely, ensured 10 to 12 reruns.

24         Jerko Gržinčić (1905 – 1985) was a widely educated Salesian priest. In addition to theology, he completed composition with Slavko Osterc in Ljubljana and physics and mathematics at the University of Zagreb. After the Second World War, he served as a professor of mathematics, physics and languages in various Croatian cities, among others in Varaždin, where he also worked as a music critic and choir director.

25         “During my administration, I tried to introduce our audience to more excellent domestic and foreign artists by arranging concerts and guest appearances. If those guest appearances were not frequent, it can be attributed to the large expenses, which, given our circumstances, could not always be covered,” writes Mitrović in his farewell booklet. And according to the list from the same booklet, concerts were held by: Czech Quartet, Zlatko Baloković, Jaroslav Kocijan, Josip Holub, Nives Luzatto, Angelina Svoboda, Luisa Holubova, Maja Strozzi-Pečić, Hedwig Debicka – Pietro Strmić, Josip Rijavec – Marta Pospišil, Viktor Heim, Ivanka Hrast-Negro, Šindler-Jedvaj, Henrika Korska – Nikola Abramović – Ilija Bagrov, Lisinski Singing Company, Pero Stojanović. (Mitrović. 1922: 3. – 14.)

26         The Society of Friends of Music operated from 1954 to 1962. The main task that the Society set for itself was the organization of concerts. The core of the Society consisted of Krešimir Filić, who was elected president at the founding assembly, Teodor Romanić, secretary, and Erna Trtain, treasurer. (see in: K. Filić, The Musical Life of Varaždin, Varaždin, 1972, p. 117.

27         Some of the soloists and ensembles who gave concerts in that period: M. Feller (1946), P. Dumičić (1946, 1947, 1949, 1953, 1955), M. Šlik – P. Dumičić (1946 .), Z. Baloković (1946), N. Tončić – M. Bašić (1946, 1952), J. Klima -F. Došek (1946), N. Puttar – J. Murai (1947), J. Klima – J. Murai (1947, 1949, 1954), A. Jelačić (1948), I. Pinkava – M. Horvat (1948), A. Janigro – M. Lipovšek (1948), A. Janigro -I. Maček (1948), V. Ruždjak – F. Došek (1948), B. Kunc (1950), J. Klima – J. Murai – N. Puttar-Gold (1951), M. Lorković (1952) , 1953, 1956, 1957), V. Nožinić – K. Radinger (1952), D. Romanić/Jovanović (1953), Monique de la Bruchollerie (1953), M. Kunc – Z. Pomykalo – V. Seljan (1953), N. Matovinović-Gottlieb (1954), J. Klima – R. Filjak (1954), N. Puttar-Gold (1955, 1963), I. Pinkava – J. Murai (1955), Zagreb Quartet (1955, 1957, 1959), V. Ruždjak – D. Lukić (1955), J. Hanžek – D. Bernardić – J. Šajnović (1955), K. Rupel – D. Švarc (1955), Zagreb soloists (1956, 1960), Collegium musicum (1956), F. Gulli – E. Cavallo-Gulli (1956), Z. Loos – Depolo (1957), V Marković – K. Aćimović (1957), D. Bernardić – R. Forest – F. Došek (1958), S. Radić (1959), V. Bogdanov (1960), T. Wronski – W. Szpilman (1960), L. Parker – F. Došek (1960), F. Došek (1960), M. Arroyo – S. Radić (1960), Parrena Quartet (1961), Alain Motard (1962) , Le Rondeau de Paris (1962), JNA Belgrade Symphony Orchestra – J. Balaž – B. Sepčić (1962), M. Ellegaard (1962), Zagreb Jazz Quartet and Zagreb Quartet conducted by B. Papandopoulos (1962) . (Filić. 1972:108. – 131.)

28         Since in this series of exceptional performers, local ones are still known to the local music public, I would like to single out, for the sake of illustration, a few foreign ones, somewhat forgotten in our country. They are Martina Arroyo (1937), an American soprano who from the mid-60s to the end of the 70s was the champion of the New York Metropolitan Opera and performed in title roles in all prestigious European and American opera houses, then accordionist Morgens Ellegaard ( 1935 – 1995), who is called the “father of the artistic accordion”, therefore who is considered the originator of the performance of artistic music on the accordion, and the pianist Władysław Szpilman (1911 – 2000), based on whose life story Roman Polanski made the film The Pianist in 2002 .

29         The first concert of the orchestras thus united was held on February 2, 1950. The concert was conducted by Josip Vrhovski, the soloist was Nikola Jambrošić, and they performed C. P. E. Bach’s Hamlet Overture, W. A. Mozart’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major, and the First Symphony by L. van Beethoven (Filić. 1972:111).

30         The concert was held on June 5 and 6, 1956. Vocal soloists were Slavica Zorko, Milica Barić, Rudolf Ljubić and Pavle Vojković. The Vatroslav Jagić Choir was trained by Tomislav Miškulin, and the performance was directed by Teodor Romanić, for whom it was a farewell concert. (Filić. 1972:121).

31         The concert performances of the opera Rigoletto were held on October 13 and 14, 1951. The performances were directed by Franjo Nadasy, and the soloists of the Zagreb Opera sang: Blanka Dežman, Vjeka Marušić, Noni Žunec, Vladimir Ruždjak and Tomislav Neralić. Traviata was performed on January 14, 1960 with the participation of soloists from Zagreb – Blanka Dežman, Noni Žunec and Milivoj Belavić – as well as the local forces of Nada Kahn, Franjo Petrušanc and Rudolf Ljubić. The performance was directed by Davorin Hauptfeld.

32         B. Brecht/P. Dessau, Mother Courage and Her Children, director K. Dolenčić, season 2022-2023.

33         Anonymous Kajkavian author, Mislibolesnik iliti hipohondrijakuš, director Ozren Prohić, conductor Saša Britvić, season 2014-2015. The music in the play was composed by M. A. Charpentier for Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid, in which the specifically French musical-stage form of comedy-ballet is reconstructed and revived. In the realization of the musical part, the following persons participated: Jelena Štefanić, Ana Lice, Sofija Cingula, Siniša Galović, Alen Ruško and Ozren Bilušić as soloists, the Varaždin Chamber Orchestra and the Chamber Choir of the Croatian National Theatre in Varaždin trained by Dada Ruža; E. T. A. Hoffman, The Nutcracker, director Paolo Tišljarić, season 2022-2023. A performance in which dance points adapted to the recorded music of P. I. Chaikovsky from his ballets The Nutcracker and Swan Lake are integrated.

34         S. Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet, choreographer and director Svebor Sečak, season 2012-2013, co-production with the Croatian Ballet Company; B. Hrabal/M. Nećak, Dance Lessons for the Elderly and Advanced, in co-production with the Liberdance Dance Studio, choreographer and director Staša Zurovac, season 2015-2016.

35         These are co-productions with the VRUM art organization: S. Tropp Frühwald/M. Schmuck/F. Lettow, No Logo Opera(tion), season 2013-2014; S. Tropp Frühwald/T. Frühwald, The killer in Me Is Killer in You, My Love, season 2014-2015; Based on the picture book by W. Erlbruchs, Duck, Death and the Tulip, directed and choreographed by S. Tropp Frühwald/T. Frühwald, season 2021-2022; Based on the motifs of W. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, dramatized by Maja Katić, Purple, directed and choreographed by S. Tropp Frühwald, season 2022-2023.

36         J. R. Brown, The Last Five Years, director Lea Anastazija Flegar, conductor Stjepan Vuger, season 2017-2018. The main roles were played by Hana Hegedušić and Igor Barberić, alternating with Irma Dragičević and Ivan Čuić. For the role of Cathy in this play, Hana Hegedušić was awarded the 2018 Croatian Actor Award for the best female role in a musical; I. J. Skender, Music of My Heart. The performance was commissioned and created in collaboration with the Music School in Varaždin on the occasion of the 190th anniversary of the school’s foundation. Director Marina Pejnović, conductor Ivan Josip Skender, soloists and orchestra – students of the Music School in Varaždin, actors of the Croatian National Theatre in Varaždin, season 2018-2019.

     At this point, it should be said that this is neither the first nor the only collaboration with the Varaždin Music School. It dates back to 1955, when the musical comedy Velika copraria was staged together, the text for which was written by Blanka Chudoba, and the music was composed by Ivo Lhotka-Kalinski. The orchestra was conducted by professor Josipa Šulek, the choir was rehearsed by professor Marijan Zuber, the director was actress Mila Vojković from Varaždin, and the students of the Music School in Varaždin sang, acted and played, as well as members of the acting ensemble and theatre orchestra. This cooperation was especially revived ten years ago, since efforts were made to restore the musical and stage production, so the teachers and students of the school are very often involved in the musical projects of the Theatre.

37         E. Kalman, Countess Maritza, director Ozren Prohić, conductors Krešimir Batinić/Davor Kelić, season 2018-2019. In cooperation with the Comedy Zagreb City Theatre, Varaždin’s soloist Jelena Štefanić, Ana Mikac and Lucija Spevec performed in the main roles in the Varaždin performance.

38         A. Smareglia, Caccia Lontana, director O. Prohić, conductor and accompanist S. Vuger, soloists Jelena Štefanić and Sofija Cingula, season 2018-2019; G. Frid, The Diary of Anne Frank, director O. Prohić, conductors M. Fortuna/S. Vuger, soloist Marija Lešaja, Orchestra of Young Musicians, season 2020-2021; W. A. Mozart, Bastien and Bastienne. The performance was created in collaboration with the Academy of Music in Zagreb. Director O. Prohić, conductor M. Fortuna, soloists were the students of the Academy of Music in Zagreb, Orchestra of Young Musicians, season 2021-2022; M. Mazzoli, Song from the Uproar – The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt, director Livia Pandur, conductor Matija Fortuna, soloist Kora Pavelić.