During summer, various events take place in some of the most prominent cities of the Adriatic coast, and Dubrovnik hosts a cult event for over than 50 years- Dubrovnik Summer Festival or “Dubrovačke ljetne Igre” in traditional Dubrovnik dialect.
It was at the beginning of the 50s when there were many theatrical and musical events springing up all over Europe, that the Dubrovnik Summer Festival was founded. However, the idea of harmonizing the renaissance and baroque atmosphere of Dubrovnik and the living spirit of drama and music, actually derived from the intellectual way of life of the city itself, from its living creative tradition, which has bestowed upon Croatian cultural and scholarly history, especially in theatre and literature, many great names and works, and kept it continually in touch with contemporary currents in western Europe.
The festival itself consists of a few programmes such as drama, music, and dance!
The most important Croatian writers such as Marin Držić, Ivan Gundulić, and Ivo Vojnović are shown on the city’s stages but if you seek awesome plays of Shakespeare, Goldoni, the Greek tragedians, Molière, Corneille, and Goethe – you’ve found the place!
The ambiance determined not only the repertoire but also the organization of the Festival, and most of the performances were performed by the Festival Drama Ensemble, composed of the best Croatian actors. There were also guest appearances that enhanced exclusiveness of the event including the Piccolo Teatro from Milan with Strehler’s staging of The Servant of Two Masters, the Old Vic with Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, the Greek National Theatre from Athens with Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, the Stadttheater from Basel with Dürrenmatt’s Play Strindberg, directed by the author, Ronconi’s legendary staging of Orlando Furioso, the London Prospect Theatre Company with several productions by Toby Robertson, and the Teatar Stary from Krakow with Wajda’s The Idiot; Hamlet has been played by prestigious actors such as Derek Jacobi and Daniel Day-Lewis.
The Festival music programme was initially conceptualized as a presentation of the best composers, soloists, and orchestras from the country, but by the end of the fifties, it had already grown into a real review of top solo artists and ensembles from all around the world. The high standard of performance in Dubrovnik was complemented by the functional use of the attractive and acoustic buildings, particularly the Rector’s Palace Atrium. In the early seventies, special attention was paid to the music and concert programme conception, with a larger number of representatives of new currents in music taking part, in addition to those who attempted to breathe new life into the old, especially Croatian, music. Among numerous artists who performed at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, contributing to its prestige worldwide, it is difficult to single out anyone in particular but just to name a few ; Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Halle Orchestra, the French Radio Orchestra, the Suisse Romande Orchestra, the RAI Symphony Orchestra from Turin, philharmonic orchestras from London, Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, Moscow, Warsaw, St Petersburg, and the Cincinnati Symphony.
Ballet and dance have also been welcome guests at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, which was confirmed by the series of famous names and groups presenting their projects on the terrace of the Revelin Fort. Alongside the best local troupes, choreographers, and soloists, Dubrovnik has been visited by Merce Cunningham, Jerome Robbins, Alvin Ailey, Glenn Tetley and Martha Graham and their companies, the Twentieth Century Ballet of Maurice Bejart, the American Ballet Theatre, the London Festival Ballet, the Harkness Ballet, the Antonio Gades troupe, the ballet of the Hungarian State Opera, and ballets from the cities of Parma, Antwerp and Adelaide.
And what would a festival be without awards for the best artists that performed at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival?
Croatian National Radio and Television Awards for the best achievements of music and theatre programmes of Dubrovnik Summer Festival are also known by the name “Orlando Awards” after the famous Orlando statue which is a known symbol of Dubrovnik and Stradun street.
So, in case you plan to combine a bit of vacation, history, sightseeing and soaking up some culture, can we even suggest a better place than Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik Summer Festival?