Comic opera in two acts

Composer: Dejan DESPIĆ
Libretto by Stevan Sremac novel: Vesna and Dejan MILADINOVIĆ
Conductor: Željka MILANOVIĆ
(direction as per director’s concept of late Dejan Miladinović)
Choir preparation: Vesna KESIĆ KRSMANOVIĆ
Costume and Stage design concept: Vladana LIKAR SMILJANIĆ
Stage Designer: Vladimir SAVIĆ
Costume Designer: Senka RANOSAVLJEVIĆ
Stage Movement: Ivan KLEMENC
Light Designer: Marko RADANOVIĆ

Friar Ćira, tenor buffo: Saša PETROVIĆ / Saša ŠTULIĆ
Persa, his wife, alt: Marina PAVLOVIĆ BARAĆ / Violeta SREĆKOVIĆ
Melania, their daughter, lyric sopran: Danijela JOVANOVIĆ / Laura PAVLOVIĆ / Pamela KIŠ IGNJATOV
Pera, village teacher, lyric tenor: Branislav CVIJIĆ
Erža, their servant, mezzo-soprano: Marija CVIJIĆ / Maja ANDRIĆ
Friar Spira, bass buffo: Nebojša BABIĆ / Goran KRNETA
Sida, his wife, spinto soprano: Verica PEJIĆ
Jula, their daughter, mezzo soprano: Jelena KONČAR / Višnja POPOV
Šaca, village barber, lyric baritone: Vasa STAJKIĆ / Branislav STANKOV
Žuža, their servant, no words: Ana BAJIĆ
Frau Gabriella, village gossip lady, soprano: Darija OLAJOŠ ČIZMIĆ / Vesna AĆIMOVIĆ
Pera Tocilov, village coachman, tenor: Igor KSIONŽIK / Ljubomir POPOVIĆ / Antonel BOLDAN
Friar Oluja (Storm), Spira’s friend, bass: Miloš MILOJEVIĆ
Bishop Temišvarski, baritone: Željko R. ANDRIĆ / Miloš MILOJEVIĆ
Nića bokter, village cop, bass baritone: Branislav STANKOV / Nikola BASTA
Roksa, Friar Oluja’s house wife, no words: Marta JAKOBAC MORAR

Soloists, Choire, and Orchestra of the Serbian National Theatre

Concertmaster: Vladimir Ćuković, Sergej Šapovalov
Repetition: Danijela Hodoba Leš, Marina Rajnović Babović, Milena Milovanović
Assistant Director: Katarina Mateović Tasić
Assistant Conductor: Vesna Kesić Krsmanović
Assistant Stage Designer: Nadica Danilovac
Stage Manager: Tanja Cvijić, Dejan Teodorović, Jaroslava Benka Vlček
Prompter: Aleksandra Majtan, Sanela Mitrović
Display / Titles: Ivan Svirčević
Video beam: Djordje Vernački, Srdjan Milovanović

Costumes and décor are produced and manufactured at the Serbian National Theatre workshops.

Duration: 2 hours and 10 minutes (without intermission).

World premiere on the 28th March 2018 at the Serbian National Theatre


Performed by the Serbian National Theatre, this opera bouffe is reminiscent of the golden age of Serbian comedy. The story about the petty bickering among the household members of the two village priests (Friar Cira and Friar Spira) covers everything from love, strife and gossip, and features unexpected turns, folk tale elements and a happy conclusion. Populated by thrilling characters, the cosy and self-contained microcosm of the play sets the stage for ridiculing stereotypical thinking, commonplaces and prejudice. The two protagonists of the play, the two Orthodox priests live merrily in a prosperous village, whose inhabitants are so well off that they can afford not only one, but two (!) priests. Seasoned with the joys of life and the occasional drinking, their days go by smoothly, undisturbed even by the squabbling of their wives. One day, however, a young teacher arrives in the village, and the peace is quickly shattered as the priests start vying for his attention, both trying to win him over as a husband for their daughter. The role of Friar Cira is played by the Romanian-born French tenor, Antonel Boldan, a finalist at Armel Opera Festival's singer competition.

The story of the quarrelsome, yet lively village priests was written by Stevan Sremac 120 years ago. Born in Senta and considered one of the best truly humorous Serbian writers, the author doggedly opposed the idea of adapting his story to any other form. Friar Cira and Friar Spira – based on an anegdote (common belief is that it was told to Stevan Sremac by his uncle Jovan Djordjevic, the first General Manager of the Serbian National Theatre) about a quarrel between the friars' wives and a fight between the two friars over a son-in-law. No wonder, then, that the first – and still wildly popular – colour feature film made in the former Yugoslavia sixty years ago came as an adaptation of his novel, which has been adapted to stage and screen several times since then. Staged by the the Serbian National Theatre, this is the first time that the story of Cira and Spira is told as an opera.


A Nostalgic Music Fresco … “Friar Ćira and Friar Spira” came to life on the opera stage in the form of comical opera by the distinguished Serbian composer, academician Dejan Despić, which was triumphantly performed on the Serbian National Theatre stage in Novi Sad. [...] an original, unique and successful stage-musical adaptation of the popular Stevan Sremac’s novel, coloured in light, non-malicious humour and nostalgia for the past times...
Borko Hložan, “Dnevnik” newspaper, 30 March 2018

Elite Cultural Event … Dejan Despić is consistently rooted in neo-classicism, so his stage debut, realised in the form of opera buffa in two acts, is an excellent sample of top-notch handling with the syntax and the dictionary of style, the style that in our country, but also worldwide, has been considered as the bastion of musical tradition. The technique of realistic display/portrayal/transfer of the main characters’ humour has focused the author, persistently, even stubbornly, towards the sound pantomime, caricature, and even the tonal triviality of the spoken lyrics. As if (and it is) the entire opera was one large, uninterrupted, tenacious and emphatically homogenised, a big banter…
Zorica Premate, “Politika” newspaper, Culture supplement, 31 March 2018


“Somewhere around the end of April 2016, Dejan Miladinović called me asking me whether I was available to do the stage design [and costume design] for the opera “Friar Cira and Friar Spira”. I accepted, although with jitters, since I have not done anything like that before. Nevertheless, everything went well as it was supposed to, we had a perfect understanding and the inspiration was abundant. And we were communicating only through the phone and the internet. The privilege regarding communication with the Miladinović family has reflected in the friendship bonded by the common affection towards creativity”.
Vladana Likar Smiljanić (a scientist, creative artist, with a Ph.D. in Electronical Engineering).

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