Opera Divas at The Church of Saint Blaise Dubrovnik

Opera Divas Church of St. Blaise

Four Opera Divas performed at the Church of Saint Blaise last night. They were fantastic!! The Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra String Quintet and pianist Alberto Frka accompanied them in a concert to honor St. Blaise. They sang songs by Croatian composers Pejačević and Jusić as well as Saint-Saëns, Rossini, Bellini, Gounod, Bach, and Mozart! The String Quintet played Haydn’s “Serenada” and it was lovely!

Alberto Frka Pianist – evarasdin.hr

Tanja Ruzdjak Soprano – kiklop portfolio

The church is small and I had no idea what to expect but arrived about 30 minutes before the performance. There were maybe 300 people and few if any tourists except me. It was a very special experience! The concert ended with the “Himna Sv Vlaha” – Hymn of St. Blaise – and everyone stood to sing it.

Altar St. Blaise Church

Jelena Stefanic Soprano – truelinked

The four divas had stunning voices:

Đelo Jusić Composer, Conductor, Guitarist – dubrovačke ljetne igre

Dora  Pejačević Composer, Pianist, and Violinist – croatia.org

I’m sad to have missed the Klapa Vocal Group Festival in Marin Drzic Theater the day before. Popular klapa groups like Maestral, Folklore Ensemble Lindo, Kumpanji, and Osjak performed. Klapa singing is a “multi part cappella homophonic singing tradition of the southern Croatian regions of Dalmatia”.

St. Blaise Festival concerts are minimally advertised by flyers posted throughout Dubrovnik. There was confusion about some of the dates and times. Luckily, I double checked on the Opera Divas concert and found out it was not on the day shown in the flyer. The charitable aspect of the festival is for the Anti-Cancer League and renovation of the Church of Saint Blaise

Terezija Kusanović Mezzo-Soprano – bbimagehandler

It was a memorable evening in Dubrovnik!

St. Blaise – Total Croatia News

Festival of St. Blaise Dubrovnik Croatia

St. Blaise saved Dubrovnik by warning the people of impending Venetian invaders. Statues of the Saint (Croatian Sveti Vlaho or Sveti Blaž) holding Dubrovnik on his palm are everywhere. Since 972 Dubrovnik has celebrated their patron and protector with a “series of concerts, exhibitions, book presentations, and theatre performances”.

Festival of St. Blaise – Total Croatia News

The Festival of St. Blaise is from February 2 through 10, but festivities begin this weekend with concerts and activities. The festival is a “celebration of Croatia’s past and a spiritual and religious unification of the city and surrounding countryside.” It’s part of Dubrovnik’s spirit and love of LIBERTAS.

Roman Goddess of Liberty – Mythology Matters

St. Blaise Festival – Croatia

Kandelora Candle Mass February 2

The actual date of the St. Blaise celebration is February 3 preceded by several days of prayer and a solemn opening Candle Mass ceremony – Kandelora – on February 2. Tolling church bells rally parishes to gather.

Festival of St. Blaise – Total Croatia News

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“Kandelora begins with the release of white doves in front of the Church of St. Blaise followed by raising the Saint’s flag on Orlando Column.”

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Children Kandelora Mass – Just Dubrovnik

A “laus” (well-wishing prayer) is said and girls in traditional costumes offer fruits of the land symbolizing twelve months of abundance. It’s a beautiful celebration with the flight of doves of peace, music, and the scent of laurel and candles in the air.

Kandelora in Dubrovnik – Just Dubrovnik

Meal for Reflection

Customs linked to Kandelora add to the festive atmosphere. As recommended by Saint Blaise, people share a modest lunch reflecting the tradition of charity and giving bread to the poor.  Most restaurants offer a special St. Blaise menu featuring local specialties.

St. Blaise – fresheireadventures.com

St. Blaise was imprisoned in Sebasta for years under the Roman Governor of Agricolas. During his imprisonment “an impoverished widow for whom the Saint saved a pig by miracle, visited him in prison and brought a modest meal and a candle to light his cell”. The Saint thanked the widow and asked her to “keep giving to the poor for as long as she lived, promising her God’s blessing”.

Church of St. Blaise Dubrovnik – h-r-z-hr

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“Kandelora is an introduction to the Holiday of St. Blaise when majestic processions, church bells, shots from fusiliers, and hymns permeate Old Town!”

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Kandelora Candlemas Dubrovnik – Just Dubrovnik

Saint Blaise Day February 3

On St Blaise’s Day people of faith from Dubrovnik and surrounding areas form a procession through Old Town. They carry banners and relics of their patron and wave church flags.

Dubrovnik Musketeers – Total Croatia News

The day begins at 6:00 am at the pier in Old City harbour with a patriotic hymn, ringing of the city bells, music, and muskets fired by a platoon of Dubrovnik musketeers. This celebration is followed by mass in the Church of St. Blaise, a parade of Grand Masters, musketeers, city band, and standard bearers throughout Old City, and a banquet in honor of St. Blaise.

I’m staying in Dubrovnik for a few extra days just to experience the St. Blaise Festival. In addition to the actual ceremony on February 3rd I’ll attend two concerts and other activities. Most festivities are free and open to the public. I’m especially looking forward to these concerts:

Pier Dubrovnik Old Town – flickr

More later…