Just three days ago, Belgrade Opera had an amazing celebration in occasion of 💯 th Birthday! Exactly 100 years ago, on 11th February 1920, first opera ever was presented to the audience in that days capital of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
It was everlasting masterpiece handwritten by Maestro Giacomo Puccini, “Madama Butterfly”. This story about love of young Japanese geysha and leutenant of the American navy in service in Nagasaki pictured lifestyle in the Emperor’s Japan in the begining of the 19th century and collision of two opposite Worlds, of Far East and even farer West.
Today, with a 100 years of experience, Opera Belgrade have lot of memories to be proud of, but still, some shadows are hiding her glory and sadly remind us that “Golden age” of the National Opera was from 60-ties to 80-ties of 20th century.
At those years, some of the most talented and charismatic opera singers flew from Belgrade to the stages of La Scala, Bolyshoy theater, Opera Garnier, Metropolitan and Vienna State opera. Unforgettable performances on those stages have Radmila Bakočević, Milka Stojanović, Miroslav Čangalović, Živan Saramandić and others. At same time, Belgrade hosted some of the biggers singers of the Opera of all time. Here, Luciano Pavarotti performed first time outside of Italy, as Alfredo in “La Traviata”. And other names, like Mario de Monaco, Placido Domingo…
Today, Opera Belgrade is sharing stage with Drama and Ballet, in the building of National Theater who cries for inside reconstruction (last one happened in 1984). With no sufficient funds and support from the State, with modest productions and lack of ideas, Opera today is like an old lady remembering young days of wealth and Glory.
However, from time to time, Opera Belgrade still manage to dazzle us, unexpectedly. Like now, with this celebration. There were no (lot of) advertisement, no billboards, fanfares, adds. Like that this Old fashion lady was hiding, ashamed, grieving… With no any reason for that.
Because, even quite modest and simplified, this Anniversary was glorious and remarkable.
At the beginning, we had an reminder and flashback to the Opera’s first 100 years. Then, announcing the evening spectacle, we greeted on stage primadonnas who performed as Madama Butterfly in the previous years: Radmila Bakočević, Radmila Smiljanić, Vjera Miranović Mikić and Jasmina Trumbetaš Petrović.
And then, the highlight of the evening, after 100 years, not on the same stage, though, Puccini’s Butterfly flew among Opera lovers in Belgrade.
In the leading role, appeared Kikuko Teshima, Japanese soprano with origin from Hiroshima, and now, partially based in Vienna.
In the short interview that she gave for MusicaPassionata, she said: “My Butterfly would be gentle and shy, I will live, love and die, and again love, because love and die, that is a life!”
But no, this Butterfly was one of the strongest Butterflies I ever heard! Kikuko’s voice was so powerful and breathtaking, bringing out every visitor’s emotions, some tears as well… Finale and “Tu, tu piccolo iddio” teared hearts in pieces, this author’s heart as well, remembering me on the days in the past when I was ready to die for love myself…
Kikuko shared stage with our tenor Dejan Maksimović, who sang role of B. F. Pinkerton, under conducting by Adrian Morar, Director of the National opera in Bucurest, who came as a substitute just two days before celebration.
This special guest, Kikuko Teshima, made this event so very outstanding, bringing her authentic style and charisma to the Belgrade Opera, making this an unforgettable memory. I couldn’t imagine any other 🦋 who will perform in this role better then her.
Arigato, Kikuko-san. Arigato, primadonna!