At the 53rd BEMUS, on November 12 and 13, starting at 8 pm, an opera for children by composer Milenko Živković based on a text by Desanka Maksimović was premiered at The Little Theater “Duško Radović”. The opera duration is about 40 minutes and it is intended for children from the age of four to the upper grades of elementary school.

With a several minutes ovation on both nights the audience have sent off the “Children’s Room” ensemble, which is made up of four generations of artists and led by the deft hand of maestro Milan Nedeljković. The opera is intended for the youngest audience, but it is enjoyed by everyone regardless of age, enchanted by the magical world of children’s play and phantasy.

Before the beginning of the performance, the members of the MOTO Board Nataša Jović Trivić and Svetlana Milutinovć have donated the reconstructed sheet music, vocal score, orchestral score and complete instrumental parts to our most important institutions in order to preserve this pearl of cultural heritage together, and educate the young generations to the true values. On behalf of the Faculty of Music in Belgrade, Professor Ivan Brkljačić, DMA, composer and vice-dean for teaching, took over the scores, on behalf of the Institute of Musicology of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, senior research associate Dr Ivana Medić, and on behalf of the Opera of the National Theater in Belgrade, Professor Nikola Mijailović, Opera Menager and a Professor in the artistic field of singing at the FMU in Belgrade.

In the foyer of The Little Theater “Duško Radović”, the audience had the opportunity to see the exhibition prepared by Dragan Stevović in front of the MOTO. The scarce materials that remained after the opera’s first premiere, critique, articles, interviews and a couple of photos, speak of the importance this performance had before its first performance.

“Children’s Room” is the first opera for children written in the classical opera form in Serbia. It was performed in February 1941. A work of unique values is a product of two great figures of Serbian art, and it’s an indicator of advanced thinking and high development of the Serbian artistic scene of the time, which in the first half of the twentieth century kept pace with the most contemporary artistic movements in Europe. This year marks the 120th anniversary of the birth of Milenko Živković, whose importance and work are unfairly neglected in our society, so this performance of “Children’s Room” at the 53rd BEMUS, will be a reminder of his immeasurable contribution to the creation of musical and performing arts in Serbia.

The libretto for the “Children’s Room” was based on the short story of the same name, by our poetess Desanka Maksimović, and it represents not only the first steps of the compositional practice aimed at the youngest audience in Serbia in the fourth decade of the twentieth century, but it’s also a true gem of Milenko Živković’s opus and our cultural heritage.

Designed almost as a didactic tool made up of shorter musical-stage images, this work is an ideal way to introduce the youngest audience to the world of opera. A series of amusing pictures actually deals with the everyday themes from the life of a family. Observed from the perspective of the parents, but also from the perspective of the children with a step forward into a somewhat phantasmagorical world, as it’s expected with children. Four children confront the boring daily routines and demands of their parents. Their insatiable desire to play takes them to the forest world of gnomes and animals, where song and dance rule.

The breach of phantasy into reality, and a children’s play that opposes the things imposed, made us think about our own relationship to play and freedom in our everyday life, as well as the ways to bring traditional values closer to children in an alluring and fun way.

The idea for the reconstruction and performance of this piece came from the project “Opera: Past, Present, Perfect!”, which the Musical Opera Theater Organization MOTO and The Little Theater “Duško Radović” are implementing under the auspices of the Creative Europe. The project aims to connect and improve young opera artists, promote opera art and create a new audience. With the dedicated work of young trained singers, directors, conductors, instrumentalists, scenographers, choreographers, and with the mentoring of established artists. The performance also includes a children’s choir, which we are especially proud of in the entire ensemble.

The project aims to contribute to the development of Serbian opera art through the creative power of the new generation of opera artists and their youthful energy, and with a contemporary approach to educate a new audience and restore the splendor of the opera art in our country.



Composer: Milenko Živković
Libretto: Desanka Maksimović
Conductor: Milan Nedeljković
Directors: Natalija Stanković and Mateja Đedović / mentor Boris Liješević
Accompanists: Dragana Anđelić Bunjac and Marko Bogdanović
“Youth Ballet” company of the Institute for Artistic Dance / choreographers: Mila Stijak and Ana Bošković
Choir of the Children’s Cultural Center: “Find your star” / conductor: Snezana Despotović
Soloists of the Music School ” Dr Vojislav Vučković” / class of prof. Maja Đokic

The roles are performed by participants of the project “Opera: Past, Present, Perfect!”

Mother: Biljana Jovanović
Father: Boris Papak
First child: Oliver Krivokuć
Second child: Isidora Bogdanović
Third child: Sara Ristić
Fourth child: Mina Nikolić

Orchestra participants of the project “Opera: Past, Present, Perfect!” and professional musicians

Production and technical realization Musical Opera Theater Organization – MOTO and Little Theater “Duško Radović”.

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