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

Vesna Kosec-Torjanac, Scenografi, kostimografi, skladatelji, dramaturzi

Scenographers, Costume Designers, Composers …


The scenography is the embodiment of the director’s idea about the text and the play, which essentially determines the play’s dramaturgy, influences the actor’s way of playing, and is an indispensable element of meaning. Costume design is no less important. Boris Senker rightly claims that the semiological description and analysis of the play and its interpretation must also take these values into account, because costumes can cause delight or nausea, laughter or disgust in the audience. (Senker, 2010:63). Stage lighting also contributes to the above, which in recent times provides great technical possibilities for creating a stage illusion, and especially with video projections, it is often the only set designing element. 

Pavle Vojković is an indispensable scenographic name, and together with Ivan Rodik and Juraj Mrazović, from 1945 to the end of the 50s, when he created the largest number of scenographies. Vladimir Gerić, whom we highlight primarily as a director and translator, is the author of many scenographies in the Varaždin theatre, in addition to numerous directions. In the 60s and 70s of the 20th century, Ljubica Wagner worked as a costume designer and August Augustinčić as a set designer in Varaždin. Veček is mostly a scenographer himself, sometimes also a costume designer, often with Zdenka Jagetić, who is the author of a dozen independent costume designs (e.g. for Strindberg’s Miss Julie, Mrożek’s The Fox and the Rooster, etc.). Doris Kristić is also a costume designer, Velimir Domitrović is a set designer, and in the 80s, after he was employed as a technical manager, Marin Gozze is also a frequent set designer. It is worth mentioning the peculiar Marija Maca Žarak, who created exceptional costumes in Varaždin. It is known in theatre circles that she sews the costumes herself. In Varaždin, we connect her with Georgij Para, whose regular scenographer is Dinka Jeričević. It is a common practice for a director to have a permanent team of authors. For example, house directors have chosen permanent collaborators for almost all of their productions: Dubravko Torjanac the set designer Ivan Duić, and Ksenija Krčar decided for Leo Vukelić.

Trained painter Ivan Duić (b. 1958), since the 70s of the 20th century, has been permanently connected to the Varaždin theatre, where he has created about 30 set designs, mostly in the Children’s and Puppet Scenes. Sometimes he was also a costume designer, and most often an author of dolls that he has made himself.

As set designers and costume designers, numerous artists have produced their works in Varaždin, which necessitates a more extensive work on them. It should be noted that the Croatian National Theatre in Varaždin has excellent tailors who also tried their hand as costume designers: Mladen Grof E. Jerneić, Karmen Štrlek and Ivan Debeljak, and since 2014, the in-house costume designer is Žarka Krpan.

Among the employed artists, in addition to the already mentioned directors and artistic managers, it is necessary to mention the dramatist Ante Armanini, who from 1978 was an irreplaceable collaborator of the directors for fifty years in Varaždin, such as Sršen and Varjačić, as well as of the directors, as a co-creator of the repertoire, dramatist, author of dramatic texts and essays related to the repertoire. He has been replaced by Vesna Kosec-Torjanac. Three musicians under the name The Impuls (M. Jajetić, N. Šimunčić and M. Bregović) and D. Novaković Šarli were engaged in the drama repertoire who created the music and performed it in the plays. Šarli has been successfully replaced by Vid Novak Kralj.



Pavle Vojković

(June 12, 1912 – December 26, 2006.)


“I almost gave up on Varaždin. I’ve been looking at it and living with it since I was little, I’ve been a museologist since grammar school.” (Varjačić, 1995) That’s roughly how the painter, graphic designer, stage designer, costume designer, illustrator, sculptor, author of visual solutions for public and sacred monuments explains his connection with the city in where he spent most of his life. That deep connection was fruitful, but often tiring for an artist of Vojković’s calibre. Varaždin was and remains a small environment for individuals with an inquisitive and insightful spirit, whose measure and pattern were constrained to a certain limit. Although a painter by vocation and education, Vojković was connected to the theatre and museum from his young age due to a combination of circumstances. While still a student at the Academy of Arts, he occasionally worked in the painting workshop of the Zagreb theatre, and after graduating in 1939 and a three-month study stay in Paris1, he joined the wartime year of 1942 newly founded Society of Croatian Theatre Volunteers as an associate set designer. He entered the theatre world by designing scenography for Diogenes by Tituš Brezovački in 1943, and after the end of the war, as an employee of the Theatre, he continued to lead, create and, if necessary, make complex stage furniture consisting of backdrops, stage equipment, costumes and lighting. The connection with the Varaždin theatre remained strong, we would say lifelong2. He strove to use artistic means to shape unconventional settings of the stage space that would contribute to expressing the soulness (Varjačić, 1995) that happens on the stage. In achieving this goal, he often did not have full freedom of expression, but there were bright moments, full cooperation with colleagues and management, as in the case of the staging of Molière’s play The Impostures of Scapin in 1955, when he also created the costumes in addition to the scenography. In juxtaposing tradition and modernity while designing the costumes of the characters, he found models in the history of art; he presented the old and traditional with the pomp of the style of Louis XIV in contrast to the pretentious rococo of the youth3. He signed the works in two different ways, with his initials or the pseudonym EGRUS4. He illustrated theatre publications, so a copy of the ticket from 1973 has been preserved.

Pavle Vojković expanded his interest with many significant contributions, as evidenced in the excellent and key monograph on the painter in 2012 (Dučakijević, 2012). As an associate of


[1] With the financial help of Krešimir Filić and Adolf Wissert, the founder and head of the Varaždin Museum.

2 With the end of his professional work at the Croatian National Theatre, he kept his painting studio in the theatre building, where he would come every day and worked until his late years.

3 Based on the example of the painter A. Watteau.

4 After grandfather Alojz Egrusović.


the Museum, he artistically designed Filić’s Guide to the Varaždin Museum in 1943. He believed that the painter’s freedom is to transform what he paints, and yet the subject of transformation remains recognizable. In this way, he created original and recognizable illustrations, comprehensible to the reader, using a reduced artistic language. He was the author of the artistic solution for the permanent exhibition of the Museum of the Revolution and several very successful solutions for public monuments, which differed from the usual monumental plastic of the time due to their high quality5. At the same time, he resisted the Socialist Realism demands of the client (political structures) in his own way, insightfully and originally, which was not easy in those years. Between 1967 and 1983, he created a series of conceptual solutions and sketches for many religious buildings in Varaždin and its surroundings, some of which were realized. The cooperation with the Varaždin Capuchins (the Church of the Holy Trinity and the monastery) was fruitful; he is the author of conceptual solutions for the church vestibule and parts of the inventory, sketches for wall paintings and paintings of the Stations of the Cross, making a sundial and a Fountain of Redemption. These works are characterized by compositions of compact space and solid figures with accentuated contours.    

Nevertheless, Pavle Vojković was first and foremost a painter. In six decades, he created an oeuvre of over four hundred works in different techniques such as: oils on canvas, drawings, watercolours, pastels, graphics, and combined techniques. From the time he studied (1934 – 1939) at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, a dozen drawings have been preserved that reveal the talent of the future artist and a departure from the way of painting nudes at the Academy (Movement of Points, Croquis of Nudes). After finishing his studies6, in 1939, he spent several months in Paris, where he studied contemporary painting alongside the works of European classics. The influence of Paul Cézanne can be felt in the still lives and landscapes created between 1939-1942. At the same time, his interest in resolving form brought him closer to Cubist painting of figures and motifs viewed from different points of view using geometric shapes. Examples are the oil on canvas: Actress, (1940), Zajezda and Zakmardy (1942). Particularly chromatically rich and powerful is the painting of Zakmardy, a multi-part face and bust composed of flat and three-dimensional circles and cutouts, rectangles, triangles and cylinders. Vojković is a great portrait painter, there are many examples of his invention and imagination in the portrait gallery. He was not a fan of one style or way of painting. In an original and unique 


5 At the Varaždin cemetery, he designed a distinctive memorial ossuary dedicated to the victims of fascism.

6 He passed the entrance exam at the Academy with a watercolour depicting the Gothic tower of Varaždin’s Old Town


way, he searched again and again for new possibilities of artistic expression, so in the period of Cubism, he simultaneously painted individualized portraits of strong expressiveness. From the fifties of the last century, he returned to realistic depictions of social, landscape and urban themes, which with their calmness associate duration and transience at the same time. In his later works, he was less concerned with painting form and more with structure and richness of tones and colour.


The Impuls Jazz Band


In 1978, upon returning to Varaždin from Graz, where he had studied drums at the Academy of Jazz Music and Applied Arts from 1973, Nenad Šimunčić (1951 – 2002) gathered young Varaždin musicians interested in jazz music and founded the Impuls jazz band. Within a year, twenty musicians passed through the ensemble in order to try their skills in performing jazz music and meet the high criteria set for them by the band’s founder. Finally, the most gifted and persistent ones remain with Šimunčić – pianist Mario Jajetić (1960 – 1992) and bass guitarist Branko Bregović (1954), who was soon replaced by his brother Mladen Bregović (1949), also a bass guitarist. Thus, the Impuls realized its artistic and research work as a jazz trio. A major turning point in the work of this musical ensemble occurred in August 1979. The then director of the National Theatre August Cesarec (today Croatian National Theatre in Varaždin), Petar Veček (1942 – 2010), recognizing the extraordinary quality, innovation and harmony, as well as the creativity of the Impuls group, giftedness and great commitment to the work of each of its members, decided to accept these three artists in the Theatre as permanent employees. The Impuls jazz group became a member of the August Cesarec Theatre then, but unfortunately, only until the end of Veček’s mandate (1983).

In that period, the Impuls was given with a spacious room in the theatre attic, the popular “Room 72”, equipped with a semi-concert piano, for regular, daily rehearsals. Today, rehearsals of the Youth Theatre Studio take place in there. But to the jazz players of Varaždin, it has remained synonym for artistic research, a kind of jazz laboratory, to this day. The spaciousness of the room and the quality of the piano enabled rehearsals with a larger number of guest musicians. Such excellent conditions for rehearsals gave the Impuls a great space to explore jazz music. The repertoire therefore, in addition to jazz classics, also included jazz-rock, hard-bop, and Latin-rock. They played compositions of composers with modern aspirations in jazz (Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Steve Kuhn, Miles Davis …). However, the most significant part of the repertoire were certainly Mario Jajetić’s compositions. This piano virtuoso was a composer of refined aesthetics and musical sensibility.

The Impuls held concerts within the regular repertoire of the Theatre, most often in the Zvonimir Rogoz Basement Stage, often also on the Big Stage and in the Concert Hall. In addition to evening hours, the band regularly performed at matinees, often with guest musicians. As a rule, such concerts were educational, with lectures and workshops for high school students. As part of the regular repertoire, the Theatre performed as many as twenty concerts per season. Sometimes as a trio, and sometimes with guest musicians, eminent Yugoslav and foreign jazz musicians (Miroslav Sedak – Benčić, Ladislav Fidri, Nada Knežević, Jovan Maljoković, Bisera Veletanlić, Koce Andonov, Edvard Holnthaner, Sandra Wells, Jeff Wohlgenannt, Karlheinz Miklin …). Mario Jajetić played in several solo concerts in the Concert Hall.

The Theatre often sends its musical ensemble to guest appearances in the country and abroad. Special mention should be made of performances at jazz festivals of international importance in Nagykanizsa, Maribor, Zagreb, Novi Sad and Belgrade.

Owing to the conditions for smooth work and guaranteed existence for the members of the Theatre music group, the Impuls was a true little miracle, provoking the enthusiasm of the profession, audience and critics, and spreading a good word about their Theatre and their town far beyond the borders of the former Yugoslavia.  

Petar Veček’s commendable and brave decision to institutionalize a local chamber jazz ensemble by placing it under the auspices of the Theatre was a unique act in the country at the time, and would be almost unimaginable today. That act, it will be shown later, left an indelible mark on the development of the musical culture of Varaždin. With their inspiring music, the Impuls “infected” a considerable number of young musicians in Varaždin, which resulted, and continues to this day, in the founding of a respectable number of quality jazz ensembles, albeit without a permanent scene and condemned to “guerrilla” activity.

The Varaždin publishing house Aulos, with the great effort of its editor Vladimir Gotal, managed to find some rare preserved recordings of the Impuls and published them on audio carriers Mario Jajetić – Grendel, 2020, and The Impuls 2021. With the release of these albums, the Impuls jazz trio and its members, the Varaždin music artists Nenad Šimunčić, Mario Jajetić and Mladen Bregović, have remained from oblivion and finally got a well-deserved place in the history of Varaždin culture.


Dragutin Novaković Šarli

Chansonnier and singer-songwriter who was born on August 25, 1950 in Varaždin, where he attended music school. He worked in the Poetry Theatre Ars longa vita brevis, which originated from the drama studio of the Varaždin high school founded and led by Zlatko Vitez from 1969 to 1973, with Slavko Brankov, Nenad Opačić, Vladimir Županić and other later prominent artists and cultural workers. He was involved in music from his early days, participated in Yugoslav music festivals, was noticed and awarded. His voice and style were often compared to Arsen’s (Dedić), but Šarli wanted to be himself; he decided to stay in Varaždin, even though going to Zagreb would certainly enable him to enrich his career.

The first play for which he wrote stage music was Niccolo Machiavelli’s La Mandragola, followed by Bertolt Brecht’s A Respectable Wedding, both directed by Petar Veček in 1976, then Slobodan Šnajder’s Metastasis directed by Miro Međimorac and Lawyer Pathelin, by an unknown author, directed by Radovan Grahorac, both in 1977. At the invitation of Petar Veček, in 1978 he was permanently employed at the Croatian National Theatre in Varaždin as a stage composer and accompanist.

In the Varaždin theatre, he participated in over 60 plays as a composer, lyricist, singer and accompanist. He is the author or co-author of several original musical and stage works: Every Time and Every Path (with Vinko Lisjak), Norci / The Fools (with Dubravko Torjanac and Vesna Kosec-Torjanac) and Hansel and Gretel (with Vesna Kosec-Torjanac).

Among Šarli’s creations, those in the Kajkavian repertoire stand out: Lamentations of Valent Žganec, Poor Ivač, Much Ado About Nothing, Jedermann or Everyman, Saint Alexey and Master of His Own Body. He was the only one in the former Yugoslavia, who, personally from Krleža, received permission to set The Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh to music. The music for Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s play Jedermann or Everyman, directed by Georgij Paro, is one of Šarli’s best works. “Šarli’s music (…) is perfectly dramaturgically integrated into the action, accompanying and emphasizing it”, in a wide range from “a disorderly drinking song (…) to astral music” (Foretić, 1996). He was nominated for the Croatian Theatre Award for the music in Jedermann; The award went to the performance as a whole, as well as Norci, in which his musical contribution was immeasurable.

Less known is Šarli’s painting talent. As a versatile artist, Šarli Dragutin Novaković was present in the Varaždin area for more than four decades. He was not interested in attracting either official or media attention. Exceptional musical talent, peculiar “Mr. Bohemian” of sharp tongue, melancholic and cynic, a loner with a guitar, cigarette and cognac in the theatre café where the atmosphere is no longer the same after he has passed away. “A real theatre man”, theatre people would say, characterizing a person who lives for the theatre.