By Natasa Radic – Split
On Sunday evening, July 14th, at the imperial square of Peristil the 59th Theatre Festival- Split Summer Festival was opened. The opening cultural treat was the opera “The Return of the Sailors” by Franz von Suppe.
Franz von Suppe, the famed Viennese composer, was born in Split in 1819, and his opera “The Return of the Sailors,” is devoted entirely to his native Dalmatia. However, it is not known exactly where the action of the opera is happening. The principal of the Split HNK (Croatian National Theatre) Tonci Bilic says jokingly that the setting most certainly must be in Split, since the opera in the 19th century problematized the functions of the mayor, who directed himself his arrival and departure from the scene, even though the people did not ask for it (it is the ironic comparison with the Split case – until recently the head of the city government in Split was the mayor whose affairs, rather than professional decision, regularly made the headlines). But, before a more serious comparison with modern Dalmatian reality, it is important to emphasize that the opera “The Return of the Sailors,” premiered in 1885 in Hamburg and then there is no existing data that it has been played elsewhere. The opera script was destroyed during World War II and it was thought to have disappeared forever.
Italian conductor Adriano Martinolli found it in 2007 in the United States. In its “new life” von Suppe’s opera has lived to its modern premiere at the right place: Split imperial square.
-The performance in Split is actually a modern premiere of Suppe’s romantic comic opera “The Return of the sailors,” which premiered in 1885 in Hamburg. The story takes place in Dalmatia, probably on the island of Hvar. The theme is universal, warriors return after twenty years.Directing this kind of opera was possible to be done with modern realities and, on the other hand, it is also a very cheerful postcard – said the director of the Split theater Tonci Bilic at a press conference.
The opera director Leo Katunaric told us that the work on the opera was a great challenge, as soloists had not had the chance to see the opera earlier, so they created a new world. Katunaric emphasized that it is an opera with film acting, which was also one of the challenges while working on the show.