The National Theatre in Belgrade Celebrated Its 155th Anniversary with a Ceremonial Programme on the Main Stage

22 November 2023

On November 22, the National Theatre in Belgrade celebrated its 155th anniversary with a ceremonial programme held, according to tradition, at noon on the Main Stage, during which numerous awards were presented, with a reminiscence of the most significant events of the previous year.

The ceremony started with a short film "A Step into the Future", in which the author, Petar Antonović, presented just a portion of what was done in the past year.

The presenters of the programme directed by Balša Đogo, were the actors Teodora Dragićević and Nedim Nezirović, who then reminded the audience about a series of grand events from the previous season 2022/2023, in which seven premieres were staged in the Drama Department: "Macbeth", "Fathers and Forefathers", "Our Class", "The Tragic Burlesque", "Brawling in Chioggia", "Millennium in Belgrade" and "The Doll from the Bed No. 21"; and two each in the Opera ("Turandot" and "Falstaff") and the Ballet Departments ("The Pirate/ Le Corsaire" and Ballet Triptych "Infinitas").

Congratulating all the employees on the National Theatre Day, General Manager Svetislav Goncić said in front of a full auditorium, in a festive atmosphere that befits such an institution, that while celebrating the 155th anniversary of the National Theatre "we must always remember those for whom we exist, who founded this theatre and developed a vision for Drama, Ballet and Opera ensembles".

According to him, it is necessary that everybody preserve the tradition of the national theatre, but also it should be transformed into something new, after 155 years.

Goncić reminded that this year was dedicated to the great jubilee - the centenary of the founding of the Serbian Ballet, while 2024 will be dedicated to our great comedian Branislav Nušić (1864-1938).

"In the last few years, the National Theatre has the strength, wisdom and ability to meet the most challenging artistic demands and achieve top results. All this was achieved thanks to you, my dear colleagues. Every evening the light of knowledge and art shines bright on our stage, and don't let that light ever go out", Svetislav Goncić said.

Later on during the programme, awards were presented for the results achieved in the previous year.

The Best Play Award in the past season was won by "Fathers and Forefathers", based on the novel by Slobodan Selenić, dramatized by Kata Gyarmati and directed by Veljko Mićunović.

The Best Individual Premiere Artistic Achievement Awards within the repertoire of the National Theatre in the period between the two National Theatre Days were awarded to principal opera singer Dragutin Matić, Ballet soloists Ivana Savić Jaćić and Sofia Matyushenskaya, premier stage actor Nebojša Dugalić and premier stage actresses Nataša Ninković and Nela Mihajlović and Ballet soloist Toma Križnar. 

Vesna Dubljević received the award of the National Theatre in recognition of her extremely significant overall work contribution.

The seal for their special contribution to the life and work of the National Theatre was presented to premier stage actress Vanja Ejdus and premier stage actors Nikola Ristanovski and Branislav Vidaković, Drama Director Tatjana Mandić Rigonat, Opera Artistic Director Nikola Mijailović, Drama Artistic Director Molina Udovički Fotez, Head of Security, Fire Protection, Emergency Situations and Defence Preparation Mileta T. Pantelić, Opera conductors Đorđe Pavlović and Zorica Mitev Vojinović, director Egon Savin, principal opera singer Ivan Tomašev, Head of Professional and General Affairs Milorad Jovanović, the National Theatre of the Republic of Srpska from Banja Luka and the ensemble of the play "War and Peace", for an extremely successful guest appearance in Saint Petersburg. 

The plaque in recognition of significant activities in the work of the National Theatre was awarded to "Blažeks" company from Kragujevac, and posthumously - to our celebrated director Jagoš Marković.

As part of the ceremony, "Golden Badges" were awarded to the Theatre members who have been at the National Theatre for two decades, Commendations for Work Achievement of Special and Exceptional Importance for Successful Performance of the National Theatre in Belgrade in the 2022/2023 season, as well as awards to members of the National Theatre who are retiring.

Traditionally, the highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of the "Raša Plaović" Award, for the Best Acting Performance on the Belgrade Stages between the two National Theatre Days, which this year was presented to Nenad Jezdić for the role of Bora Šnajder in the play "The Development Path of Bora Šnajder”, based on the text by Aleksandar Popović, adapted and directed by Egon Savin and produced by the Yugoslav Drama Theatre. The decision on the laureate was made by a majority vote at the session held on November 19, by the jury that consisted of the director Nebojča Bradić, writer Miloš Latinović, actresses Vanja Ejdus and Elizabeta Đorevska, and dramaturge Đorđe Kosić. 

"Thank you all for this wonderful day, thank you to the jury for elaborating their decision in such way that makes me so proud. I would also like to thank director Egon Savin. In the life of every actor, it is very important today to have a director like Savin by your side during your maturing as an actor, who believes in you more than you believe in yourself. Egon, thank you, may you live for a 100 years more," Jezdić pointed out and emphasised: "I would think of this day and this occasion as unfinished and incomplete, if we did not stop to remember so many sudden departures and losses of our great friends and artists, wonderful and beloved people".
"I would like to call for a prayer and reminiscence of all those who left us recently, let’s all of us think of whoever we want or of the first person who comes to mind," Jezdić said and paid tribute to Žarko Laušević, Jagoš Marković, Marinko Madžgalj, Nebojša Glogovac, as well as Dragan Nikolić, Petar Kralj, Petar Banićević, Branislav Ciga Jerinić, Raša Plaović...

"Let us at least briefly remember all those who are no longer with us, but were an inspiration to us, and they deserve to be given credit for all of us being here today to celebrate 155th anniversary of the National Theatre. Believe me, 155 is not a small number... Long live all of you and may everything good follow you", Nenad Jezdić said, who was greeted by a long, thunderous applause.