The history of Croatian National Theatre Rijeka lasts for over two centuries. The first theater was built in 1765. However it wasn’t enough to satisfy the people of Rijeka, so a highly esteemed merchant Andrija Ljudevit Adamić decided to build a new one in 1805. Over the years, the new theater hosted various shows and performances, mostly performed by guest troupes from Italy, Austria, and Germany. The Adamić theater was a focal point of the cultural life in Rijeka until new safety concerns caused by multiple fires in other venues across Europe forced the municipality of Rijeka to close the theater for lack of security features. Due to that, the municipality decided that they will build a new, modern and impressive theater that will fit the most demanding European criteria.
In 1883 it was decided that the new building will be built on the Urmeny square in Rijeka, and they decided to order the project in Vienna, with the architectural atelier that specialized in designing theaters. The architects were famous Austrian architects Herman Gottlieb Helmer and Ferdinand Fellner. The construction of the new Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka was completed in 1885, making it the second oldest National Theatre in Croatia, only behind the theater in Osijek and ahead of the ones in Zagreb and Split. The theater was opened with two operas, Verdi’s Aida and Ponchielli’s Gioconda. It finally got the status of a National Theatre in 1991, and it got its today’s full name Croatian National Theatre Ivana pl. Zajca in 1994, after very popular Croatian composer, and after years of having its name changed.
Croatian National Theatre Rijeka is impressive both in the interior and exterior. The exterior of the building was designed so that it can rival any other theater in Europe. A great attention was given to details and this has made the exterior of the theater look impressive and is a must see sight for all who end up in the city of Rijeka. The ornamental artwork and figures were created by the famous sculptor from Venice named August Benvenuti. The ceiling pictures were painted by the famous painter Franz Matsch, in collaboration with the world famous Gustav Klimt and his brother Ernest. Over the years, the theater hosted many famous figures from the history, from famous composers such as Giacomo Puccini, Pietro Mascagni, tenors Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli and various others.
Today, Croatian National Theatre Rijeka is still going on strong, as it hosts various shows, from operas, ballets, and other theater performances. Ticket prices depend on the performance you want to see, but the chance to take a look at the interior of the building is worth the price of admission on its own.
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