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Katarina Livljanic presenting Judith by Marko Marulic a famous Croatian Renaissance writer from 15-16th ct.
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic
Published on 02/4/2012
Ms. Katarina Livljanic enacted the ancient drama with splendidly pure singing in Croatian, urgent narration, a penetrating gaze and expressive hands. (...) What makes “Judith” seem almost startlingly modern and metaphysical at times is Ms. Livljanic’s incorporation of other 16th-century texts dealing with inner dialogues at climactic moments in the story. The New York Times, USA. Marko Marulić 1450-1525 was Croatian Renaissance writer, one of the most important European spiritual writers of his time. He wrote the Biblical epic in Croatian, and stated expressly on the title of the book that the book was written in Croatian verses - u versih harvatski.

Based on 'Judita' by Marko Marulic (Venice, 1501), libretto adaptation and vocal score composed by Katarina Livljanic.

Katarina Livljanić, professor of medieval music at Sorbonne in Paris,
founder and director of Dialogos Ensemble in Paris, performer and scholar of Croatian medieval music.

Musical Drama - Voices and Instruments

Complex and full of metamorphoses, Katarina Livljanic’s interpretation of this story, rooted in the Dalmatian Renaissance, transforms a Biblical narration into a theatrical experience, woven around characters who have emerged from the text to become profoundly human and alive for us today.

Excerpts from the DVD "Judith", filmed in September 2010 in the Church of St. Donat (Zadar, Croatia), in coproduction with the Croatian National Television. Release planned for 2012.

A Biblical Story from Renaissance Croatia (excerpts). Based on 'Judita' by Marko Marulic (Venice, 1501).

Libretto adaptation and vocal score composed by Katarina Livljanić. Performed by Ensemble Dialogos.


Judith enters the gate of the city and asks the guards to introduce her to Holofernes.

The great warrior sees her, deeply struck by her beauty. He invites Judith to his court and prepares a big feast. Drunken, he falls asleep on his bed, hoping in vain to seduce the Bethulian widow.

She stands silently by Holofernes's bed, just before decapitating him. Her soul and her mind, in a last moment of anxiety, rise and whisper to each other in a deep inner agony.

Judith cuts off Holofernes's head with a knife hanging by his bed.

She returns to her city and exposes Holofernes's head on the city wall. All the inhabitants come to celebrate the victory and liberation, singing a canticle with Judith.

Albrecht Maurer, Katarina Livljanić, Norbert Rodenkirchen in ‘Judith’

Press Clippings

Ms. Livljanic enacted the ancient drama with splendidly pure singing in Croatian, urgent narration, a penetrating gaze and expressive hands. (...) What makes “Judith” seem almost startlingly modern and metaphysical at times is Ms. Livljanic’s incorporation of other 16th-century texts dealing with inner dialogues at climactic moments in the story.

The New York Times, USA

"It takes an eloquent artist and a patient scholar to recruit and arrange the relics of a truly distant past in a way that creates a work capable of enthralling modern listeners. The resulting piece is a mesmerizing and at times hauntingly beautiful work, with Livljanic's pure-toned voice at its core. ... The undulating vocal lines provide a certain melancholy expressive tug, and a rich array of piquant dissonances makes the music sound both very old and very new. Sanda Hrzic has provided a subtle and organic staging that makes poetic use of light and shadows as the fine musicians Norbert Rodenkirchen and Albrecht Maurer drift and hover around the singer. ... It is an exercise in a kind of generative musicology at its best..."

The Boston Globe, USA

"All three musicians were so attuned and so responsive to one another they seemed as one, none dominant, all equally necessary. Playing a selection of early and Croatian folk instruments, Norbert Rodenkirchen, flutist and medievalist and Albrecht Maurer, string player, jazz musician and specialist in improvization, followed every nuance of Katarina Livljanic’s very powerful, flexible voice.

The music is rich and opulent in sound with long, hypnotic lines.

Livljanic’s subtle interpretations of the story kept the audience rivetted. Using mostly song with very effective spoken or half-spoken passages, Livljanic unrolled Judith’s story with awful inevitability, her firm and unbending character reflected by the supreme confidence of the singer."

Vancouver Review, Canada

"Judith" is an amazing 70 minute one-woman opera (that's the branding I'll suggest, although it would be more accurate to label it a musical monodrama) with stunning music offered not only in Livljanic's mesmerizing mezzo-soprano, but with faultless performances by Albrecht Maurer on fiddle and Iftica (a traditional stringed instrument of Croatia) and Norbert Rodenkirchen on archaic flutes."

Chicago Hyde Park Herald, USA

Enchanted by ‘Judith’

The audience was immediately brought under her spell. The church space, the charismatic singer, and the instrumentalists – all in a refined lighting by Marie Bellot – together created … an enraptured, dense atmosphere, from which the listener could only slowly emerge at the end.

Katarina Livljanic …employs a wide spectrum of vocal nuances: in recitation and in singing she brings a wealth of emotions to our experience; in her clear, very agile and technically secure voice one hears not the tiniest insecurity. The concentration she brings to this tour de force is impressive.

The two instrumentalists proved themselves to be congenial partners. They beguiled us with lyric, gentle playing, but showed themselves equally at home with dramatic climaxes. In this way was born, in singing and playing, a riveting performance which draws its intensity from a reduction to that which is essential.

Kölnische Rundschau, Germany

The texts are the main protagonists of this performance, based on a simple staging devoid of any adornments and focused on the words - sometimes sung and sometimes spoken. A very fine choice from Livljanic and Herzic. The two instrumentalists accompanying Katarina Livjanic underline the story in an extraordinary way, using rarely seen instruments such as the lirica and the dvojnice (double flute). The three musicians produce some magnificent moments.

Noticias de Gipuzkoa, Spain

"A voice of great beauty, with an extraordinary expressivity."

La Vanguardia, Spain

Accompanied by excellent musicians, K.Livljanic very wisely and profoundly found inspiration in the gregorian and glagolitic Dalmatian musical heritage. The staging was discrete but deeply impressive, performed by the musicians in a perfect  resonance with the profound and inspired musical contents, full of emotional energy. The voice is in the center of the performance, refined and resonant  with its perfectly shaped sound, using archaic melodic fragments with a lot of imagination and ease. The synergy with the original text is very moving. Liturgical and secular elements are interwoven  in very harmonious dialogues/monologues. The communication between the singer and the instrumental accompaniment by Maurer and Rodenkirchen is impressive and extremely sensual.

Glas Istre, Croatia

This gripping drama of the human soul reached its high point in the surprisingly modern-sounding postlude: ‘Vanity, all is Vanity’…

Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, Germany


Ensemble Dialogos
Musicological research and scenic impact

Since its foundation in 1997, Dialogos, the vocal ensemble directed and created by Katarina Livljanic, has emerged as one of the most outstanding and original medieval music ensembles of the new generation. The ensemble’s projects link new musicological research with an innovative approach to medieval music performance, a theatrical dimension, and an expressive musicality. Dialogos is composed of women’s or men’s vocal ensembles, depending on each specific project.

Since its first projects, Dialogos has been acclaimed by critics (in journals such as The New York Times, Early Music America, Le Monde, Le Figaro, El País, The Guardian...) and performed in the most prestigious concert halls and festivals worldwide (Lincoln Center, Festival of Saintes, Utrecht, Ambronay, Royal Festival Hall of London, Metropolitan Museum of New York, Cité de la Musique in Paris, Boston Early Music Festival, Edinburgh Festival...), including radio and television broadcasts.

Five recordings, published by labels such as Arcana, Sony-BMG, Ambronay Editions, and Empreinte Digitale, have received numerous press distinctions in international music magazines, including Diapason d’or, Choc du Monde de la musique and Goldberg 5 stars.

Current programs of the ensemble focus on medieval repertoires: plainchant, early polyphony and musical theatre. Among the theatrical programs, there is a Glagolitic Tondal’s Vision, awarded the prestigious Diapason d’or de l’année, the Coup de coeur by the Académie Charles Cros and the Edinburgh International Festival Angel Award in 2009. Judith, a staged production of a biblical story from medieval Dalmatia received the award of the Split Festival (Croatia) for the best musical performance in 2007. A DVD release of this program is planned in 2011-2012. Among other programs, Chant Wars, a coproduction with the ensemble Sequentia, is centered on Carolingian chant and local traditions in Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries. Abbo Abbas offers an innovative vision of 11th-century English polyphony. One of the recent projects, Dalmatica, prepared in collaboration with Kantaduri, a group of traditional cantors from Croatia, was premiered in 2008 at the Ambronay Festival where Dialogos was in a three-year residency between 2006 and 2009.

The Royaumont Fondation has awarded the ensemble a three-year residency beginning in 2011.

Barlaam & Josaphat, our latest project, was premiered in Cologne (Germany) in June 2009, in the WDR3 early music concert series.

Dialogos receives a subsidy from DRAC Ile-de-France – French Ministry of culture and communication.

Mécénat Société Générale is the principal patron of the ensemble.


Direction : Katarina Livljanić
(Croatian medieval Popule meus)
Voix :
Gro Siri Ognoy Johansen (Soloist), Sandrah Silvio (Soloist), Christine Laveder, Katarina Livljanić, Aino Lund Lavoipierre, Lucia Nigohossian, Cornelia Schmid,
Prix : Diapason d'or Choc du Monde de la Musique
Enregistré en novembre 1998 a l'église de Lignieres par Maurice Salaun Empreinte Digitale, ED 13107

La vision de Tondal

Marko Marulić, Croatian Renaissance writer

Among Croatian Latinists and writers in Croatian a central place is occupied by Marko Marulic, who is the "father of Croatian literature" (born in Split, 1450-1524). He was the most famous spiritual writer of his time in Europe, and also the first who defined and used the notion of psychology, which is today in current use.


His book De institutione bene vivendi (six volumes, 64 chapters), published in Venice in 1506, had fifteen editions until 1686 and was translated from Latin into

  • Italian
  • German (five editions between 1583 and 1614, all in Köln, in parts already in 1568)
  • French (7 editions, the first one in 1585)
  • Flemish
  • Japanese (in Nagasaki, in parts, 1585)
  • Portuguese and
  • Czech,

altogether 40 editions. It is well known that St. Francis Xaver had taken only two books on his long pilgrimage to the East (India, Japan and China): the Bible and De institutione. Furthermore, in his testament St. Francis Xaver asked that Marulic's book be buried with him. Therefore we may conclude that Marulic was a spiritual father of St. Francis Xaver. St. Francis Xaver's personal sample of Marulic's book was kept in Madrid in a collection of valuables until 1937, when it had dissapeared. St. Ignazio Loyola included De Insitutione into the list of basic references for the formation of Jesuits. Both St. Francis Xaver and St. Ignazio Loyola were Basques.

Marulic left us many beautiful verses and the epic poem Judita written in the Croatian language, for which he says expressly to be written in the Croatian verses (versi harvatski). Some of his original verses are held in Glasgow (GB). His Judith was translated into English, Hungarian, French, Italian, and some parts into Spanish. Marulic translated from Latin into Croatian the famous "De imitatione Christi" by Thoma de Kempis.

The original Marulic's manuscript of "De institutione bene vivendi" has been stolen from the Croatian National Library in Zagreb around 1980. Any information about this would be appreciated.

According to investigations of a French specialist Charles Béné, Marulic's texts have been used extensively by Thomas More and Henry VIII. It is known that Marulic's "Evangelistarium" that was read by Henry VIII bears many comments by the King. It is considered that two of the king's three literary works were written under the influence of Marko Marulic. Charles Béné has translated Marulic' Judita from Croatian into French (La Judith).


A page of Marulic's Evangelistarium annotated personnaly by the English King
Henry VIII, kept in the British Library (843 K 13), see Charles Béné
La reception des oeuvres de Marulic dans les provinces du Nord ,
in Colloquia Marvliana IIII, Knjizveni krug, Split 1994., p. 51

Marko Marulic's Evangelistarium published in Spanish in Madrid in 1655. Note Croatian Coat of Arms in the middle. Photo exhibited by The Split Literary Circle.

Marulic's poem "Carmen de Doctrina Domini Nostri Jesu Christi pendentis in cruce" was translated into English as "A Dialogue betwext a Christian and Christ hanging on the Crosse" by St Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel (1557-1595).

According to C. Verdiani, Marulic is also the author of the Florence Codex, which contains a biography of St Jerome written in the Croatian language. There he wrote

St Jerome is our Dalmatian, a glory, honour and fame,
and a brilliant crown of the Croatian language.

In Croatian: Jerolim je nass Dalmatin, on je dika, posstenje i slava i svitla kruna hrvatskoga jezika.

Marulic's verses appeared printed in the Glagolitic Script alreday during his lifetime, in Transit of St Jerome (Transit sv. Jerolima), published in the town of Senj in 1508 under the title of Anjelske kriposti, in 144 doubly-rhymed dodecasylabic (ie 12 syllabic) lines. These verses, transcribed into the Glagolitic from the original Croatian text in Latin script, can be found by the end of the book. Many thanks to academician Anica Nazor for this information (2007). Here is a part of describing wisdom of St Jerome, see [Bratulic, Il poeta Marco Marulic e la tradizione glagolitica in Croazia, p 232]:

Bog razum skupi u njem tr izvrstnu mudrost,
Sveta Pisma po njem da prosine svitlost,
Prorokov otajna, Kristove pritaci
Nam su sad nahajna, jer je on stlmaci.
Vsu knjigu latinsku i grcku umise
I osce ijudejsku…

Older Croatian Glagolitic Transits of St Jerome have been studied by [Stefanic].

Marko Marulic sent a dramatic letter to the Pope Hadrian VI, describing an extremely tragic position of the Croats threatened by the onslaughts of the Ottoman Empire and asking for help.


Jean Garret (Ioan Garetij) of Louvain, in his writing De era praesentia corporis Christi in sacrmaneto Eucharistiae, 1561, cites Marko Marulic

His books were known not only in the whole of Europe, but also in Japan (in the 16th century) and South America. For example, parts of De institutione bene vivendi were translated into Japanese already in 1585, published in parts in Nagasaki under the title Sanctos no gosayuno, see Franolic (he mentions 1595 instead of 1585).

More than 500 copies of Marulic's books are kept in Germany (60 libraries), from Franz Leschinkol: Povijesna uloga Evandjelistara i Institucije u 16. stoljecu, in Colloquia Marvliana IIII, Knjizveni krug, Split 1994., pp. 90 and 193

Alonso de Villegas, Spanish author of a famous book Fructus Sanctorum (printed in Paris in 1624), refers to Marulic's De Institutione on almost every page. Another Spanish Christian humanist, Juan Lorenzo Palmierno (Laurentius Palmyrenus), in four of his texts published between 1564 and 1578 mentions expressly to be inspired by Marulic's books. Moreover, in one of his dramas there is a figure called "Marulus". And Professor Michael Neralich (lecturing Spanish and comparative literature at the University of Clermond-Ferrand) considers that the figure of "Andrea Marulo" in the novel Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda by Cervantes is inspired by Marulic. There is no doubt that Cervantes was familiar with Marulic's books, since they were translated into Spanish by Fernandez de Ruenga. In the Library of Cristoph Columbo in Sevilla, founded by Hernando Colon (son of Cristoph Columbo), there are many books by Marko Marulic, and even his "Judita" written in Croatian!

Sanctos nogosagveono, 1591, written in Japanese language and in Latin script, contains Marulic's texts; see Franz Leschinkol: Povijesna uloga Evandjelistara i Institucije u 16. stoljecu, in Colloquia Marvliana IIII, Knjizveni krug, Split 1994., pp. 98

One of Marulic's tractates has been translated into Icelandic in 1601.

When St. Francis Xaver arrived to Kogoshima in Japan in 1549, he also brought Marulic's "De insitutione bene vivendi". According to bishop Hamao from Yokohama, president of Japanese Bishop's Conference and of Asian Caritas, the formation of earliest Japanese Christians had been very probably based on the spirituality of Marulic. See here (in Croatian). It is interesting that in Berlin a monument of Marko Marulic was set up in 2000. In the Library of Congress, Washington, a symposium was held devoted to his work.


The title page of Marko Marulić's book Judita, printed in Croatian language in Venice 1501.
Source of the photo Wikipedia.


Libar Marka Marula Splićanina v kom se
uzdarľi historija svete udovice Judite u versih
harvatski sloľena kako ona ubi voj-
vodu Oloferna posridu voj-
ske njegove. I oslobodi pu-
k israelski od veli-
ke pogibli.

Please note:
u versih harvatski = in Croatian verses

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko ®ubrinić
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