The coastal town of Kotor in Montenegro is a town of history, culture and religions. According to the Italian theatre director Paolo Magelli, this medieval city - located in the heart of the Boka Kotorska Bay - is perfect to host major cultural events. Which is the reason why he, director of the KOTORART Festival has decided to bring some great music and theatre performances to Kotor.
The KOTORART Festival dates back to the year 2002, but it is 2009 that will be remembered as a turning point in the festival's history.
That is the year when the event gained national recognition and the patronage of UNESCO, which further inspired it to aim towards new, more ambitious goals. KOTORART now brings together several of the town's traditional events as well as new performances. Its scope ranges from music and theater to children's plays and fashion shows.
The festival consists of several parts, starting with "The Teuta Festival - New Classical Theatre." Teuta, dedicated to the theaters of ancient Greece and Rome, was this year held for the first time since it opened KOTORART in 2002.
KOTORART's two traditional segments are the "Kotor Children's Theatre Festival" - one of the most important events of its kind in the region - and "Don Branko's Days of Music," the festival's regular musical event that has been in the programme since the early days.
The "International Fashion Review," featuring figures from the fashion industry, was included in the programme this year, having been held as a separate event in front of the St. Trifun Cathedral for several years. The "Kotor Art-Theatre Premiers" segment launched this year, introducing three new plays, two by Montenegrin authors Radmila Vojvodić and Petar Pejaković, and one by Slovenian Eduard Miler.
But it is Don Branko Sbutega who is largely to credit for the fact that this festival takes place in his hometown. A prominent humanist, intellectual and patron of the arts, Sbutega, who passed away in 2006, played an active role in Montenegro's cultural and social life. He was the parish priest of the St. Estauce church in Dobrota (Roman Catholic Diocese of Kotor) and contributed also greatly to the rescue and restoration of the country's art heritage after the devastating 1979 earthquake. Sbutega was the first honorary president of KOTORART Festival. After his death, the festival's musical programme was named "Don Branko's Days of Music."
It is this segment of the programme that featured perhaps the most notable performance of this year, offered by Croatian pianist Ivo Pogorelić. His concert, performed on a Steinway concert piano brought in especially for the occasion, confirmed his virtuoso status and resulted in an initiative to raise funds to keep the instrument in Kotor.
Expectations for the future are now higher than ever before, and KOTORART is striving to contribute to transforming Kotor into - as festival director Paolo Magelli so nicely put it - "an intelligent and refined summer holiday destination."