Welcome to Rijeka, the European Capital of Culture, one of the most interesting European cities this year.
This is a message from Rijeka!
Exactly two months ago the city of Rijeka became the first Croatian city to bear the title of the European Capital of Culture 2020. On February 1st tens of thousands of people attended the central ECoC opening programme that communicated the courageous messages on the values upon which modern Europe is founded.
That evening, the uncommon Opera Industriale transformed Rijeka Port into a huge stage, where thousands of performers performed, accompanied by the sounds of work, industry and noise. The Opera Industriale’s final song “O Bella Ciao” symbolically reminded Europe and Croatia of the freedom which the citizens of Europe have been enjoying for the last 75 years with words “È questo il fiore del partigiano, morto per la libertà! / This is a flower for the partisan, who died for the liberty”.
Messages appearing on light installations were: RIJEKA LET’S GO; FORZA FIUME; PORT OF DIVERSITY; TOLERANCE; RESPECT; COEXISTENCE; PEACE, ANTIFASCISM; ART; EUROPE, CULTURE
Opera Industriale is based on the musical framework designed by Rijeka art duo JMZM (Josip Maršić and Zoran Medved) and orchestrated by Croatian composer, maestro Frano Đurović. Besides them, this central opening programme in Rijeka Port featured numerous artists, including DB Indoš – House of Extreme Musical Theatre with Rumoristi, the Mixed Choir of The Opening of European Capital of Culture which was led by Jeka Primorja choir and fronted by Igor Vlajnić, and string and wind orchestra. The Finish Choir Mieskuoro Huutajat offered an especially attractive performance that included screaming, shouting and rattling. Opera Industriale also featured around twenty Rijeka guitarists, ten drummers, dancers and the workers’ orchestra of grinders, welders and sparks.
This urban Rijeka opera has brought forth a reminder of the rich and stormy Rijeka past, along with the messages of respect for the power of workers in the life of a modern city, the working people who proudly built Rijeka.
In regard to the tackled themes, this performance also included a reference to Janko Polić Kamov, the greatest Rijeka writer and a predecessor of the European avant-garde, whose verses were recited in a very peculiar style. A Finnish choir of screaming men sang the hymns of all the states in which Rijeka existed during the past hundred years.
During Opera’s grand finale, the famous song of Italian antifascists “O Bella Ciao” was jointly sung by all the performers: rock guitarists, drummers, The Choir of The ECoC Opening, orchestra, Finnish Choir Huutajat and DB Indoš along with a large part of the audience. Through the messages that pervaded this programme, Rijeka clearly demonstrated the values it cultivates and represents, the messages it wishes to send to both Europe and the world. The programme’s narrator was Zoran Prodanović Prlja, a well known Croatian rock frontman. The spectacle was rounded with spectacular fireworks.