Belgrade Theatrical Beacons Bring Serbian Opera to Britain

Two of Belgrade’s leading theatrical lights have come together to present British audiences with a taste of award-winning Serbian chamber opera. Producer Milan Govedarica and composer Anja Djordjevic will be staging a one-hour piece Narcissus & Echo in London, Manchester and Bradford, this autumn.

The opera tells the classical Greek love story of lonely nymph Echo and her fatal love for the beautiful Narcissus, who has eyes only for his own reflection. With music that draws on Purcell and Monteverdi and a chorus of wise and witty nymphs, this opera of love is a timeless piece brought up to date by Milan.

“It is a well composed opera, influenced by early baroque and some 19th century authors,’ said Milan. “It is clear, concise and exciting, with infectious arias. 

“It appeals to me to be showcasing Serbian culture from another angle, with an opera based on classical Greek, universal heritage and composed by a young Serbian woman. Presenting a new author to British audiences is itself a rewarding job as much as it is a challenge.”

Milan Govedarica spent seven years in the Drama Department of the National Theatre of Belgrade, where he was Project Manager of the writer development programme NovA DramA. For Narcissus & Echo he is collaborating with Serbian composer Anja Djordjevic, who won the prestigious Stevan Mokranjac Prize for the original Serbian-language chamber opera Narcissus & Echo. These British performances will be presented in English, directed by Chris Hill and with musical directing from Morag Galloway.

Bringing a new production to the international stage can cost a hefty sum. Thankfully, Milan has managed to secure support from a list of cultural organisations. As well as performance venues and co-producers, the Lowry and Theatre in the Mill, Narcissus & Echo will be financially supported by the Serbian Ministry of CultureJugokoncert (producer of the original opera in Belgrade in 2002), and the British Council Belgrade.

Anja Djordjevic is a well known and prolific composer in music and theatre circles in Belgrade and people at the Serbian Ministry of Culture are aware of that,’ said Milan. “They saw this project as a good opportunity to present Serbian culture abroad in the best light.”

Milan, who lives in Leeds, has built a name for bringing new works to the stage. Projects include Me As A Penguin by Tom Wells, Company Along The Mile by Tom BidwellBorn in Bethlehem by Al Harah Theatre (Palestine)BEEP… by Aisha Khan and Mark Catley and Heart of a Dog adapted by Jodie Marshall. In 2006 he was funded by Arts Council England – Yorkshire to undertake placements at Unlimited TheatreTheatre in the Mill and National Student Drama Festival.

Tour dates:>The Lowry, Salford Quays, Manchester, October 5-7
>Theatre in the Mill, Bradford, October 13-15
>Little Opera House, London, October 19 and 20 

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