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While the Theatre building was being built near the Stambol Gate, the first performance was given on another location on Sunday, 22nd November 1868. It was a historic drama in five parts, Đurađ Branković by Karlo Obernik, translated and adapted by Jovan Đorđević, newly appointed manager of the Theatre. The performance was given in adapted room of inn Kod engleske kraljice (At the English Queen’s), a house the Theatre Board leased from Miloš Sušić, a priest in Saborna Church. The house was situated in 51 Kosmajska Street (today’s Marshal Biriuzov Street). Serbian Overture by Dragutin Reš was played before the performance and the opening speech on theatre art, literature and Serbian theatre was given by a writer Milorad Popović Šapčanin, future Prime Minister in the Serbian Government.
The house that belonged to priest Sušić, which was situated in the vicinity of Varoš Gate, does not exist any more. There is no collective memory of it, although it was the venue of inception of one of the most important cultural institutions of Serbian Nation. Actors of the National Theatre gave seventy performances in Sušić’s house until May 1869. On 30th October, the new theatre season was opened in the new building with performance of After Death Fame of Prince Mihailo, by Đorđe Maletić, music was composed by Dragutin Reš, the Theatre’s composer.
Plays were performed in the stone building near the Stambol Gate, near the Monument, on the Theatre Square, i.e. The Square of Republic, for almost a century and a half, with only short breaks due to wars and devastations. In 1920, the Theatre started producing operas and in 1923, the Theatre introduced full-length ballet productions. Of course, there are other significant dates in the National Theatre’s history.
Before the Theatre’s History
4th December 1841
First production in the Theatre on Đumruk (customs office): Death of Stefan Dečanski, by Jovan Sterija Popović.
Theatre on Đumruk was closed on 26th August 1842
15th May 1847
First performance in theatre hall in Staro Zdanje Hotel.
Last performance was given on 9th March 1849
11th September 1852
Beginning of construction of theatre building on Zeleni Venac.
Construction works stopped early in the process due to sodden ground and the lack of funds.
Theatre started operating in the Prince’s Brewery.
The building was situated on the corner of today’s Balkanska Street and Admiral Geprat’s Street, performances were given until January 1866
29th June 1851
The first Theatre Board was established
12th March 1868
Prince Mihailo decides to have a new theatre building constructed
18th August 1868
Prince Milan Obrenović places a corner stone for the first theatre building in Belgrade
1st November 1868
Jovan Đorđević, first General Manager of the National Theatre
22nd November 1868
First production of the National Theatre: Đurađ Branković by Karlo Obernik, given in At the English Queen’s Inn
30th October 1869
First production in the new building in Theatre Square:
After Death Fame of Prince Mihailo by Đorđe Maletić, music by Dragutin Reš
21st April 1882
First premiere of a musical piece: operetta The Sorceress, text by M. Milo
(translation from Romanian by Vasa J. Živanović), music by Davorin Jenko
29th November 1894
First performance of opera: In the Well by William Blodeck
20th December 1903
First performance of national opera: На уранку by Stanislav Binički, text by Branislav Nušić
5th April 1910
First production of The Ninth Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven
11th February 1920
First performance of newly formed Opera Company: Madam Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, Held in Manjež building
22nd January 1923
First performance of newly formed Ballet Company: Nutcracker by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky
6th April 1941
The National Theatre building was bombed.
The building was partly demolished in bombing and in subsequent fire, décor, costumes and equipment were destroyed
22nd December 1944
First performance in liberated Belgrade: Invasion by Leonid Leonov
17th February 1945
First opera production in Belgrade after liberation: Eugene Onegin by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, According to the text by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
22nd November 1969
Production of Koštana by Borislav Stanković opens the Stage in Zemun (ceased to work in 1992)
15th October 1989
Formal opening of reconstructed and added building of the National Theatre
In order to keep all these important events of the National Theatre’s history, as well as achievements of people involved, in our collective memory and to, first of all, provide a solid grounds for further development of theatre arts, the National Theatre establishes
MUSEUM OF THE NATIONAL THEATRE IN BELGRADE
By obeying principles of museology and particularities of the topic, although the space and number of exhibits are somewhat limited, we have organized the first exhibition. The basic mission of the Museum will be to add to the exhibition, i.e. collect additional material evidence of the National Theatre’s history, and present them to the public.