Our 20 years
Madlenianum is situated on the bank of the Danube, among three churches and it unites different religions, tastes and contents in a symbolic way. At the very beginning it was just a chamber opera, performing the titles that nobody had on their repertoire. Later, the repertoire has expanded in direction all other opera titles, from baroque to the contemporary opera of 20th and 21st century. Since 2005, the variety of musical productions of opera, ballet and musical, has involved the new content-drama.
Wish of the founder and the sole owner, Mrs. Madlena Zepter, was to see on the stage of her theatre classic and contemporary works of art set in some more innovative and modern version. She herself, enriched with numerous experiences in the European and world frames, wanted to bring that spirit of the world in Belgrade and Zemun.
Madlenianum has had its constructive and a serious reconstructive assignment, solved in a way of a huge investment of the owner in the amount of thirteen million euros, so that the new premises exude with quality, the luxurious and modern expression, giving the square and Zemun completely renovated and new look. All preconditions, from technical to accommodative, two halls, the Large and Small stage, ballet gymnasium, Bel Etage, offer endless possibilities in fantasy playoff and organizing all from commercial and business meetings and seminars to master classes, concerts and book promotions, making a house a true cultural center of this part of Serbia.
So far 50 productions have been set, as well as 110 guest visits in the country and abroad. The performances have been seen by over 400000 visitors. The first performed opera was The Secret Marriage by Domenico Cimarosa.
Besides the titles such as The Rape of Lucretia, Signor Bruskino, The Wise, Two Widows, Thus Do They All, The Tales of Hoffman, The Diary of Anne Frank, Rita And Angelica, Traviata, Madame Butterfly, Pagliacci and similar that have garnered the audience’s standing ovations and undivided recognitions of the critique, other genres, primarily ballet, have also led our house to the focus of domestic and foreign interest. Ballet performances such as Orpheus in The Underworld, Nijinsky-Golden Bird, Tripitih, Wolfgang Amade, The North Fairy Tale were all included in the best achievements in the years they appeared.
Two great musicals, Miserables and Rebecca, brought in the breath of Broadway and London’s scenes, not lagging behind. Les Miserables has had about 20.000 visitors and 43 performances and it continuing its artistic life of the musical on the Madlenianum’s stage in the season 2013/2014 as well.
The first performed drama play was the monodrama, The Ice Firefly, in 2005. The most reverberated among the audience was the setting of The Scent of Rain in The Balkans (25.000 visitors). The play that has remained longest on the stage is Frida Kahlo, having been performed 73 times continuously since 2006. Also among very well accepted are the plays The Indian Summer, The Bereaved Family, The Cat on The Hot Tin Roof, The Lady from Maxim and especially Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Greta Garbo’s Secret, the one that has had 16000 visitors for two seasons at 35 performances, and then also The Blue Angel etc.
From the very first day the way of work in the Opera and Theatre Madlenianum has assimilated work of all large theatre houses in the world. Artists have their contracts tied up to the specific projects, they have maximum attention and are enabled to enhance their creative potential and ideas. Each new production involves a new author’s team and a new casting and singing call. The only constant element is the symphony orchestra, consisting of the best instrumentalists of Belgrade and lately the youth chorus has been formed, as to contribute the quality of performances.
The program of the national opera and ballet resulted in the setting of the comic opera “Mandragola” by Ivan Jevtic, by the order of Mrs. Madlena Zepter, so the opera has been on the repertoire from 2009 to 2013 and in guest visits, as well as The Two Serbian Ballets significant for Serbian history, The Valet’s Broom by Miloje Milojevic and The Ballad of The Stray Moon by Dusan Radic.
The curiosity and one of the numerous challenges undertaken by young creators is linking Schoenberg’s music from Pierrot Lunaire and Buchner’s drama about the poet Lenz, what was both unusual and attractive for the elite audience of our Small Stage.
The program for children that has begun with the first setting of The Wise by Karl Orff developed into children’s program and it has given one title so far, the abridged version of The Magic Flute opera and two new titles are being prepared, in drama and opera. The project is strong established as the delighted response and acceptance by the young audience gave impetus for further projects. Since we belong to the organization within the Opera Europa, youth program, RESEO, in the future we are going to address to the youngest generation in many different ways.
Madlenianum owns a large number of works of art, both on its walls and in the halls and premises interior, it has a library with a great number of musicals and books as well and excellent working conditions for its small, enthusiastic team of employees, devoted to their work and in love with the theatre.
PhD Branka Radović
This is a really nice jubilee. I wonder if it is possible that 10 years have already passed and it’s like it was yesterday. I am telling this because I was one of the artists who participated in the first performance of this house, as Elisetta in The Secret Marriage by D. Cimarosa. In that time Madlenianum still did not have its premises so we were preparing the whole music part at then main office in 27a, French Street. The success was undoubted and followed by The Two Widows of B. Smetana, where I was singing Carolina and later Fiordiligi in Thus Do They All by W.A. Mozart. I must mention that Madlenianum has put efforts into well preparing each performance, so the world famous directors and conductors have worked with us. Since the very beginning I have had a good relationship in treatment and mutual respect as well as professionally. Madlena Zepter has done a great job by turning Zemun Theatre, which was empty and ruined for years, into a temple of culture which now has its own rating and keeps up with the world events. Madlenianum has opened its door to many young singers and to those with no stage experience and done a lot for their affirmation. Personally, Madlenianum has enabled me to stand as an artist and thus made my career go up the line and have visible results. It enabled me to see how plays are made in the world. And finally, Madlenianum has helped me to be respected as an artist, along with the codes of conduct that have to be the foundation of a house of art and therefore the condition for a successful cooperation.
Jasmina Trumbetaš, opera singer
Institutions like Madlenianum should exist, since it is good for us to have a healthy and good competition in the artistic sense. Ballet cannot survive only on the stage of the National Theatre, although it is the most suitable for huge spectacles performing. A stage such as that in Madlenianum is open for different, smaller and more modern projects as well. Consequently you can also find a place for some young, talented person who can thus get their affirmation in a faster way. Let us recall once again that those professionally engaged in ballet are the most endangered artists, because they have much less room for their personal affirmation than actors and therefore for profit.
Konstantin Kostjukov, Ballet Manager of the National Theatre in Belgrade
In the previous two or three years Madlenianum had several really great premieres, primarily opera and ballet plays for which it made a breakthrough not only in our surrounding, but also in wider proportions. These performances were widely spoken in foreign critical circles as well and the theatre recorded the successful guest performances in the world. In addition, what is always an association for Madlenianum is the cooperation with quality performers, whether an orchestra or singers. That means there are high professional standards in Madlenianum.
Ivan Jeftić, a composer
It can be said that I am in a way a pioneer of Madlenianum, as I have been working with this theatre since the very beginning. During this time, I am especially proud of the two ballet performances, Orpheus in the Underworld, which has won the "Dimitrije Parlić" Award and the Nijinsky-Golden Bird, which has achieved the remarkable success on the world stages and presented the Madlenianum house in the best way. As we know that in the world much smaller cities have much more theaters, a theatre like this, the one especially open in its program to opera and ballet, can only be welcomed. I think that the profile created by the reputation of the Serbian National Theatre and the national Theatre in Belgrade is very good and that as such it gives the artists of various profiles and generations the opportunity to show themselves.
Krunislav Simić, a choreographer
I have been cooperating with Madlenianum since its beginning as someone who has prepared these young people who got their first chance in this theatre. Some of them are today singing in the Opera of The National Theater. It is particularly important that in this way young people get their chance to work with prominent directors and make good earning along with that. I think that the latest project of this theatre, the musical Les Miserables, is a good way to bring art closer to the audience, especially Zemun audience, because although it is not an opera performance, the word is about the genre close and receptive to people. Besides that, such project provides guest visits and further development of both the artists and the theatre. I would especially like to point out that some young people who succeeded abroad, first due to their talent, such as Dunja Simić and Željko Lučić, originated exactly from this house and thanks to Madlena Zepter’s donations they made their first steps on foreign stages. In the name of those young people I would like to thank Madlenianum and wish it much luck in further work.
Biserka Cvejić, opera singer
Opening the Chamber Opera Madlenianum on the place of the National Theatre scene has created ambivalent feelings in me: on the one hand some joy because of a new theatre birth and on the other hand questioning and doubt about the possibility of achieving and duration of such an elite project in Serbia. During these ten years of work and pursuit, the chosen model has been confirmed and challenged, reassessed and changed, as to be recognized as the opera-theater. Hard work has given good results. Today’s repertoire of Madlenianum includes drama texts of a special profile, new readings of opera classic and musical. This is the program that the theatre directs to theatre creators and theatre audience, without accepting the fake division into artistic and popular theater, because the theatre experience is made of the same material and there are no lines of delimitation. However, some challenges are special and hart to resist. I have the luck that Madlenianum has offered me one of these. I have accepted it with an excitement and I believe that the musical Les Miserables we are currently working on can change the perception of the musical theatre and expand its possibilities.
Nebojša Bradić, Director and Manager of Belgrade Drama Theater
Madlenianum is the first scene in Belgrade that by its existence proves the principle that there is a possibility of sustainable cultural space which fosters high artistic values and survives for ten years reaching an ever-increasing level of artistic production. When we look at Madlenianum’s program today, it is respectable in every sense and I believe that most of our opera artists feel enormous gratitude on one more opera stage in Belgrade and in Serbia. Is it necessary to emphasize that this house has managed to last in the time when some different values from the end of the nineties were forming our general cultural scene? This is an even greater success of Madlenianum as the cultural mission of this house has completely succeeded and will remain, luckily for future the audience and artists generations, the scene (even more than the scene: way of thinking and system of values) that Belgrade is proud of.
Darijan Mihajlović, Secretary for Culture of the City of Belgrade
Ten years of Madlenianum is a great jubilee. Madlena Zepter could have built the theatre wherever she wanted. She is emotionally attached to Zemun and this is a real location for the theatre. Besides that, an exceptionally good positive energy can be felt in Madlenianum and all are like a big family.
I am from Zemun and I have been a regular guest here since Madlenianum was opened. In my opinion, it is good that Madlenianum has introduced drama plays in its repertoire, because previously it was just a theatre for smaller opera forms. I am glad that a private theatre exists for a decade, the theater that does not deal only with small forms, but also the repertoire really serious in its demands.
I come regularly to Madlenianum, practically from the first performance and I have many friends who create programs. In my opinion, with Madlenianum, we got a new dimension. In this house everything is well designed and planned. That is why each premiere of Madlenianum is an exclusive event.
I am in Madlenianum very often. I have seen with a great pleasure everything what came out of here as a product of opera work. Just to remind, I am one of the first, if not the very first who said, immediately after this opera had been founded, that it was a great move and the significant issue for Belgrade and our culture. I think that Madlenianum has firmly established its position in these ten years and showed the necessity of its existence and work in our surrounding.
I like this house very much and respect its work, as well as the idea of founding a theatre where opera will be performed. However, I am even happier because Madlenianum has recently expanded its repertoire and begun perform drama plays as well, doing that at the top level. I have worked with this house with a great pleasure, just one play for now, but I hope not the last one.
I think Belgrade would be very poor without the theatre Madlenianum, which has a specific repertoire. What has been seen in Madlenianum so far is something that is not seen on other Belgrade stages, and it's a real fortune. I think this theater is remarkable for its repertoire, technical possibilities, but also for paying great attention to every detail in performances.
I have been following Madlenianum since the very beginning, since the theatre was founded. I cannot separate personal from professional. If Madlenianum hadn’t woken up my interest and if I hadn’t had very strong emotions for what was done here, I would certainly not have followed Madlenianum that much.
Mira Adanja Polak
Madlenianum is a beautiful theatre. Beautifully arranged, the hall is beautiful as well. I remember this house from earlier when it was the Zemun stage of the National Theatre. It was a sad social-realistic mansion. This nowadays theater is after being renovated a real audience paradise. First of all, it is seen on the stage: through the light park and by everything that makes one scene worldwide.
I think that in the first decade of work Madlenianum has profiled its repertoire and found a completely special place or filled some empty place which didn’t exist on Belgrade scene. Madlenianum justifiably took the place of the leader. All the stories about the theater being dislocated are out now. Madlenianum has revived Zemun and the citizens of Belgrade gladly cross the bridge only because of Madlenianum.