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Rijeka 2020, The final program

By press release March 29, 2021
The opening ceremony of the children's festival Tobogan The opening ceremony of the children's festival Tobogan Photo by Karlo Cargonja

Cultural and art events under the auspices of the European Capital of Culture, which are scheduled to take place in April, a month in which the ECoC programme reaches its finale, were announced some days ago in Rijeka. 

Encompassing over fifty events that allow the presence of spectators under controlled conditions and with adherence to epidemiological measures, these programmes were announced at press conference by the directors of cultural institutions in Rijeka, representatives of the Rijeka 2020 company, which was founded to implement the ECoC projects, and Delta Lab, which was formed by Drugo more association at the University of Rijeka as part of the ECoC project. They are jointly organising the ECoC programme finale in Rijeka against the backdrop of the regrettably ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

It should be noted that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which curtailed the programme initially scheduled for 2020, Rijeka and Galway have had their European Capital of Culture titles extended until the end of April 2021. More than 400 cultural and art events were held in Rijeka in 2020, mostly during the summer, though a portion of the programme activities took place in the autumn and early 2021, with the majority of those events planned for April 2021.

The eventful programme that was announced includes plays, themed walking tours of the city, permanent installation opening ceremonies, exhibitions, concerts and similar events, all of which are planned in accordance with the coronavirus prevention measures implemented by the Civil Protection Headquarters. As was emphasised at the press conference, the scheduled events will adapt to the measures, should they change or become more stringent.

A dozen exhibitions, some of which will remain open to the public after April

A dozen exhibitions are scheduled to open in April, some of which will remain open to the public after 30 April. One such exhibition is Klimt Unknown – Love, Death, Ecstasy, which showcases his works – paintings that were taken from the ceiling of the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc after 133 years so that they could be restored and exclusively exhibited at the newly renovated 18th-century palace to which the City Museum of Rijeka has recently been relocated. Klimt will be exhibited there until mid-October 2021.

The grand-scale exhibition Fiume Fantastic – City Phenomena, which was a huge success in the latter half of 2020 with over 7000 visitors, will reopen at Export at the Delta. This exhibition is enhanced with children's instructions for exploration and will reintroduce expert-guided tours.

The exhibition Fashion and Comic Books, transplanted from the Angoulême Comic Book Museum, will display over a hundred exhibits for visitors at the City Museum building at 1 Riccardo Zanella Square. They include sketches, clothes, fashion accessories, perfumes and various publications that highlight the direct bond between fashion and comic books, since fashion has often been influenced by comic book protagonists. The exhibition will remain open until mid-June.

The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art will celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of the notable Croatian artist Ivan Kožarić with the exhibition Flying into Aether or Staying on Earth. It will open on 23 April 2021, more than a year after Kožarić's installation Haystack was placed by the Rijeka Korzo in the build-up to the ECoC opening ceremony and will remain open until mid-June. Ivan Kožarić's works in different media from the period between the 1950s and the 2010s will be showcased in Rijeka in cooperation with the Kožarić family and the Zagreb Museum of Contemporary Art.

In addition to the aforementioned exhibitions, another April highlight is the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral Open Days, which will take place at all the locations – the Governor's Palace in Rijeka, the Kastav Region museum collection and the Lipa Remembers Memorial Centre.

The exhibition of photos that will be displayed on stands at the Rijeka Korzo on 20 April will serve as a thank you collage for all the volunteers for their enormous contribution to the realisation of the entire cultural programme of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture project.  It captures the citizens of Rijeka volunteering in activities such as conferences, workshops, international collaborations and exchanges, concerts, festivals, exhibitions, promotions, events and installation opening ceremonies, which are just a fragment of the happenings involving more than 400 volunteers who dedicated over 8,000 hours of their free time to the project and the city over the years. 

Guided walks and tours of the city

 Every weekend in April, adults and children will be able to go on one of the several guided walks and tours of the city.

The StreetArt children's walks follow the Rječina River upstream, through Vodovodna and Ružićeva Street, encountering art along the way on the neighbourhood street walls, in the underpass, under the arched passages and in the middle of the street, a lamppost or a railroad car.

On the Following the River of Murals guided tour in the wider area of the Delta, Školjić and the bright-coloured Križanićeva Street, where 7 new artworks have been made, visitors will learn more about the artists, works and some interesting anecdotes surrounding the creation of this kind of street art. At the very end, they can hone their spray-painting skills on the facade and contribute to the creation of another mural.

As part of the ECoC 2020 closing ceremony, the Association of Tourist Guides in Kvarner offers a brand new guided sightseeing tour – The Legacy of Rijeka as the 2020 ECoC to all residents and visitors of Rijeka. This programme breaks away from the standard format of sightseeing tours by focusing your attention on the lasting legacy of the 2020 European Capital of Culture. The walking tour of the city, with stops at ten select locations, is just over 90 minutes long and allows visitors to reminisce about the numerous programmes that were the high points of the ECoC and to find out how it has left behind a proud and lasting legacy for Rijeka.

Also announced is the Historic Tour of Krešimirova Street through the potentially expanded Korzo, which starts at the Mali Neboder antique shop on Ciotta Street and lasts 90 minutes, during which it guides you through fascinating historical moments and legacies, architectural, narrative and that left behind by Rijeka 2020 (the Children's House, Library, Sugar Refinery Palace, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art etc.).

 Plays, concerts, theatre programmes

 There are a dozen different plays, concerts and other similar performances in store for the audience in April, although their respective modes will depend on the coronavirus prevention measures implemented by the Civil Protection Headquarters and the resulting options for public gathering.

A 45-minute suite is scheduled to be performed by the band Grč, accompanied by the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc Symphony Orchestra, on 24 April at 10 pm at the Rijeka Fish Market, with arrangements and orchestrations by Zoran Majstorović. No spectators are allowed at the Rijeka Fish Market for this performance due to the strict measures implemented by the Civil Protection Headquarters, although the event will be streamed live on Rijeka 2020's YouTube channel.

The Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc has announced the premiere of the Opera According to Kamov by Zoran Juranić, who composed this piece especially for the Rijeka Opera and the Rijeka - European Capital of Culture programme. The Prologue was played at the ECoC opening ceremony, while the opera will be performed in its entirety for the first time during the ECoC finale in April. Zoran Juranić has composed around 50 orchestral, chamber music, piano and vocal pieces. Recently, the discovery of a previously unknown libretto written by Janko Polić Kamov for his brother Milutin piqued the interest of the Croatian cultural public. Although it is not an original Kamov story, the text, which he titled When Blind Men See, possesses all the qualities of the author's direct offbeat narration, while also deftly harnessing the rules for writing veristic librettos.

Symphony concert Stravinsky, Mahler: Farewell to the ECoC, announced by the Rijeka Croatian National Theatre for 30 April, featuring music by Igor Stravinsky: The Firebird (1919) and Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 4 in G-Major.

The project Janez Janša: The Airlift will be showcased at the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc in Rijeka in early April. This is a presentation of the programme We'll Both Fly Away If I Tell You What Happened, which was slated for 2020 and subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic. This site-specific ballet play was supposed to tell the story of ballet and its proximity to power and authority, order and discipline and one Nikša Župa, a Split-born cultural manager, Director of the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Art Director of the Slovene National Theatre Ballet in Ljubljana from 1991 to 1992. The Janez Janša: The Airlift project will be presented on the grand stage by Janez Janša, the author himself, followed by a discussion with his associates: Milan Marković, Petra Veber, Dragan Živadinov and Tajči Čekada.

The Zajc Gallery, an interactive exhibition area intended for showcasing theatrical heritage and hosting various meetings and discussions all year round, will open in late April. It will be housed in the building of the Rijeka Theatre and will use interesting remodelled spaces that have been hidden in the plain sight of the theatre patrons, such as adjoining staircases, rest areas, the theatre balcony vestibules and the balcony itself.

Open-air concerts were planned for April, much like in the summer, but their performances heavily depend on the coronavirus prevention measures and the resulting public gathering options.

Permanent installation opening ceremonies and Neighbourhood Days in the Rijeka surroundings

Following the opening ceremonies of four permanent installations on the Lungomare Art culture-and-tourism route in 2020, April will see the opening programmes for permanent sculptures in Volosko and Baška on Krk Island.

Also planned are the European Capital of Culture Neighbourhood Days in Vrbnik and Mrkopalj, while the 27 Neighbourhoods Time Capsule, which holds messages for future generations, will be stored in Rijeka. A message about everyone that is here now, the city of Rijeka in 2020, every single neighbourhood, lives and the idea of the future, as seen from the present perspective, has been left in the 27 Neighbourhoods Time Capsule for future archaeologists, anthropologists and historians. 

Programmes for children at the Children's House and outdoors

The programmes at the Children's House, which will open for children at the end of March as part of the Rikard Benčić neighbourhood of culture, begin in April and are also subject to the coronavirus prevention measures.

This year, the Week of Good Children's Books, which take place from 19 to 25 April, should offer a number of meetings with authors and a creative workshop, with books as the centrepiece, and held for the first time at the Children's House, which is also the new home of the Stribor Children's Department.

The puppet play Oh La La will also be performed at the Children's House, while the play Happy Little House will be staged at the City Puppet Theatre.

The highlight of Sundays in April will be the Sudden Circus in the neighbourhoods of Rijeka. This is a series of pop-up performances of the Pancake Show by the street entertainer Marko the Clown. The vehicle in which the performer arrives at the location is a fire engine transformed into a wacky circus clown car, which also doubles as a stage.

The play The Children of the Port by the Malik Theatre Workshop will be performed at various times at the cinema of the Fiume Fantastic exhibition at the Delta's Export. It was primarily envisioned as a site-specific performance, but due to the coronavirus prevention measures, the entire process behind the play has been adapted to the "new normal" and has unfolded via Zoom. The workshop portion of the process and the performance have also been implemented and planned for digital platforms. The play The Children of the Port, based on the rock and punk rock songs from the book Rijeka's Rock Anthems by Zoran Žmirić, tells a story of rebelling and growing up and the relationship of the youngest generation with the city in which they live during a specific period of transition.

Programme implementation with special precaution and adherence to the measures of the Civil Protection Headquarters

In addition to the aforementioned programmes, several others were announced at today's press conference and the citizens were asked to follow the announcements in the media, since all the planned programmes will be further announced in the media in April and the performances will be adapted to the potential changes brought on by the coronavirus prevention measures implemented by the Civil Protection Headquarters.

Mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel pointed out at the press conference "that the ongoing pandemic prevention measures prevent us from planning and holding the closing ceremony in a similar vein to the opening ceremony just over a year ago when we entered the year of Rijeka as the European Capital of Culture with a smile on our face and filled with pride without knowing what lay ahead in 2020."

"However," he added, "we can still take pride in knowing that over the past year, we have done much more than was thought possible in March of 2020. Despite the coronavirus, Rijeka has successfully held the title of European Capital of Culture, which still remains because it has been placed on the map of European Capitals of Culture. We bid farewell to the year of Rijeka as the European Capital of Culture with dignity and look forward to the future, when the entire experience of implementing this project, and not just its tangible legacy, will provide a solid foundation for the further development of culture in Rijeka."

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