Nikola Šubic Zrinski
Staging Premier of the Croatian National opera Nikola Subic Zrinski in North America
PROUD TO BE A CROAT - PROUD TO BE A PATRON OF THE ARTS
Croatians of North America have thrown down yet another barrier for which we all can take enormous pride. This Fall the well known opera house, Opera Mississauga - Living Arts Centre, in a relatively young, but budding city of Mississauga nestled west of Toronto, will stage, as a part of their regular subscription season, Croatian opera Nikola Subic Zrinski. The event will take place October 5, 8, 10 & 12 (student preview October 2nd 8:00 PM & matinee Oct .6 at 3:00 PM) 2002. Opera Mississauga boasts one of the acoustically best theatres in the North America - a befitting place for "Zrinski"
In the Opera Mississauga's promotional brochure "Zrinski" is advertised with a well-known image (by artist Oton Ivekovic) of Ban Zrinski on a horse with a drawn sword leading his faithful followers in the defense of Sziget and ultimately the rest of Europe. The image is accompanied with the following text: A favorite Croatian opera in three acts, based on the story of the death of Nikola Zrinski IV at Siget in 1566. Zajc's popular opera is a tuneful, dramatic, and colourful musical drama with National themes.
General and artistic director of Opera Mississaaug, maestro Dwight Bennett traveled this spring to the capital of Croatia, Zagreb to audition Croatian opera singers for the principle roles, while the chorus parts will be sang by the Opera Mississauga Chorus who are diligently learning music and the Croatian text as the opera will be sung in the original Croatian with customary surtitles in English.
One need not point out the significance of this undertaking for which the Croatian community had to secure about 100.000 CND dollars and Opera Mississauga has allocated further 400.000 CND dollars for a total budget of half a million dollars necessary to properly stage this production.
After much pondering it was decided for all the stage props, as well as costumes be built in Canada, therefore making them the property of Opera Mississauga, and enabling the company to take this performance to other cities in North America and Australia. Croatian Fraternal Union of America has expressed their interest in the possibility of bringing the opera to the USA. A tour of Australian cities is being considered as well.
The faith of smaller nations, especially those which have been incorporated into larger entities as was Croatia during its tumultuous history (Austro-Hungary, Italy, Yugoslavia etc.) is one of neglect especially regarding their achievements in the field of arts. The intention of this neglect was often political. Nikola Subic Zrinski falls well into that category. Like Verdi's Nabuko it too stirred nationalistic emotions whenever it was performed and for that very reason performances were severely and intentionally curtailed. Each and every Croat who has had the opportunity to see the opera couldn't remain indifferent when Zrinski with a small number of faithful soldiers rushes out from the safety of fortified Siget into sure death, with Croatian the "checkered" flag proudly fluttering in his outstretched arm.
Who can forget Zrinski's famous lines: "Here under the starlit sky, I'll say my last goodbye. 'Thi's time for me like a Croat to die; my sacred oath I will not belie. Zrinski will fall, and his small troop too, But Croats will stand tall and bonds of slavery undo!
And further on: "The Croat banner is flying high! Croats are ever ready for their homes and their kind to die! ... To die in glory, for our country is sweet to us ... We'll take on the enemy he'll fall, he must".
This historic event would not have been possible without the trust and generous support of Opera Mississauga under the general and artistic directorship of maestro Dwight Bennet and the Opera's Board of Directors. The organization and its members had shown much sensitivity for cultural, achievement of a relatively small "ethnic" group, which makes the fabric of Canadian society. Likewise without a generous support which was immediately offered came from The John Zdunic Charitable Foundation who has presented Opera Mississauga with a cheque on 30.000 dollars thus expressing the community's full commitment. In Zagreb we have received unselfish assistance from Maestro Vladimir Kranjcevic director of the Zagreb Opera and Mr. Ivan Zivanovic director of the MIC (Information centre for Music) who has supplied all the music sheets and waived any royalty charges. Croatian Ministry of Culture, Embassy of the Republic of Croatia, Ottawa, The General Consulate of Croatia as well as many "ordinary" Croats have pledged their support either "in kind" (building sets, sewing costumes etc) or with monetary donations.
Toronto Committee for the Promotion of Croatian Opera: producer Edward Mavrinac, with Aranka Lengyel & Srebrenka Bogovic. (e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org)
Any help in staging the Croatian national opera Nikola Subic Zrinski is still welcome and much appreciated. Donations (regardless of the sum!) will be acknowledged in the commemorative booklet and for Canadian donors a tax receipt will be issued. There is also an opportunity to advertise (business, personal "... in memory of", congratulations etc.) in the Commemorative Booklet: black & white or colour. In Canadian funds: full page $400.00(b&w), $600.00 (color), 1/2 page $250.00 (b&w), $400.00 (color), 1/4 page $175.00 (b&w) $300.00 (color), 1/8 $100.00 (b&w), $200.00 (color).
Please make your cheque payable to "ZRINSKI-OPERA MISSISSAUGA"
Address: Zrinski-Opera Mississauga, The Living Arts Centre, 4141 Living Arts Drive, Mississauga, Ontario, L5B 4B8, and Canada