The Madlenianum Opera & Theatre this year marks twenty years of rendezvous with beauty and art on the Zemun bank of the Danube
To celebrate its great jubilee, this cultural establishment has created a repertoire that pays an homage to its most successful shows. One highlight is the musical Les Misérables, which has been keeping the house packed for eleven years, as well as the play Frida Kahlo, which will soon mark its twelfth anniversary at Madlenianum.
In old parts of cities, fascinating tales often lie hidden deep in the walls built long ago. The Madlenianum Opera & Theatre, a magnificent endowment of Mrs. Madlena Zepter, was founded in what one would think were the worst times for art. After the war, while people were still fighting for bare survival, a need arose for a stage that would be graced by Serbian operas, operettas, and inspiring dramatic plays with sumptuous sceneries. At first, this might ring untrue, but when one thinks about it deeply, one realises that people do need art in all times, especially the difficult ones.
“To initiate something is to name something. To open the gates of the future to the new and the free and believe in that something with your whole being“, Madlena Zepter explained in the monograph dedicated to Madlenianum’s jubilee. “When we, in that dismal, sad year of 1997, started playing with the idea of creating a new opera house, impossible was the only reality that we could foresee. Today, twenty years later, we stand here in celebration of vision and perseverance.”
The now majestic building of the Madlenianum that shines next to the Zemun bank of the Danube was initially erected as a subsidiary and an additional stage of the National Theatre, and was quite modest in comparison with the “royal” main building in the city centre, as prescribed by socialist architecture. In time, the location was completely abandoned, but has survived to witness its deserved renaissance. Today, it exudes art at every step, not only thanks to the dramatic, musical, operatic, and balletic expression in whose honour it was built, but also because of its elegant architecture and the paintings and sculptures that grace every corner of this oasis of joy. The main auditorium was recently outfitted with a modern gallery and was rearranged to meet the most intricate acoustic challenges. Whether they be resounding with the masterful quips of Nušić or the notes of Carl Orff, it is clear that the halls of this edifice serve its true purpose – to bring together artists, the arts, and all those who wish to experience art at its finest.
Written by Miljana Nešković