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Contemporary Macedonian Culture
Literature. The 20th century brought to the fore the issue of the Macedonian language, and language has been defined as a basic component of the individuality of the Macedonian. The appearance in 1903 of the book On Macedonian Matters by Krste Petkov Misirkov (1874-1926) heralded the coming standardization of the "common Macedonian literary language", as Misirkov writes. Misirkov sought to convince Macedonians to take a neutral attitude toward Bulgaria and Serbia, and to linguistically unite the Macedonian dialects. To realize these two principles, Misirkov urged that the central Macedonian dialect, the Veles-Prilep-Bitola dialect, should become a basis on which a Macedonian literary language would be built, on a phonetic basis, but that the lexical material of this future Macedonian literary language should be collected from all dialectal regions in Macedonia.
In retrospect, Blazhe Koneski emphasizes that the revelation of the scientific ideas on Macedonians set out by Misirkov meant "a revelation of ourselves", when the misconceptions and mystifications about the existence of a Macedonian language would be put to an end. At the beginning of the 20th century, the playwright Vojdan Chernodrinski-followed by Nikola Kirov Majski and in the interwar period by the playwrights Risto Krle, Vasil Iljoski and Anton Panov-promoted the Macedonian language as the speech of an individual and defined ethnos.
The appearance of the poetry collection White Dawns by Kosta Racin (1908-1943) laid the foundations of modern Macedonian literature. The first poetry collections of Venko Markovski and Mite Bogoevski explored the fullest possibilities of expressing their feelings in the Macedonian language. At the end of World War II, Macedonian literature was just emerging with few literary works, but these works heralded the development of an abundant school of modern Macedonian literature which would take the world by storm. On February 13, 1947, the Writers' Association of Macedonia was founded in Skopje, including Blazhe Koneski (president), Dimitar Mitrev, Venko Markovski, Slavko Janevski, Vasil Iljoski, Aco Shopov, Risto Krle and Ivan Tochko, while Gjorgi Abadzhiev, Kole Chashule, Vlado Maleski, Jovan Boshkovski, Vancho Nikoleski and Gogo Ivanovski were candidates for members.
This was not, however, the first attempt by Macedonian writers to organize an association. That honor belongs to Gjorgija Puleski, who in 1888 in Sofia formed the Slavonic-Macedonian Literary Group, "to revive the popular Macedonian literature"-unfortunately, a movement inhibited by Bulgarian authorities. Three years later and again in Sofia, Kosta Shahov, a publicist and a publisher from Ohrid, launched the Young Macedonian Literary Group. In 1892, this group began publication of Loza (Vine), edited by Petar Pop Arsov. The ideas propagated by this journal (published from 1892-1894) gained crucial importance in confirming the individuality of the Macedonians.
Misirkov noted the significance of the formation of the Young Macedonian Literary Group: "...in the nineties a national separatist movement was established with the aim of separating the interests of the Macedonians from Bulgarian interests by introducing one of the Macedonian dialects at the level of a literary language of all Macedonians." In 1902 in St. Petersburg, Misirkov formed the Macedonian Scientific-Literary Group "Saint Clement" as a new attempt to introduce a Macedonian literary language.
Between the 1930s and 1940s, a larger group of young Macedonian intellectuals were active in Sofia, passionately devoted to the written word as a means through which they could express their intimate feelings and considerations. This group included Nikola Jonkov Vapcarov (an exceptional poet who addressed the national struggle of the Macedonians), Anton Popov (poet and publicist), Mihail Smatrakalev or "Angel Zharov" (lawyer and poet), Ivan Kereziev (visual artist), Georgi Abadzhiev (writer), Mite Bogoevski (poet), Kole Nedelkovski (poet) and a few others. In 1938 they formed the Macedonian Literary Group in Sofia, to win recognition of literature written in Macedonian.
Today, the Writer's Association of Macedonia includes Albanians, Turks, Serbs and Vlachs among its 259 members, affirmation not only of Macedonian-language literature but of all literature written, in whatever language, by citizens of the Republic of Macedonia.
The first generation of contemporary Macedonian writers was soon joined by the Stale Popov and Jordan Leov (novelists), Lazo Karovski (poet) and Vasil Kunoski, Volche Naumcheski and Grigor Popovski (writers of children's literature). But the new generation of Macedonian writers emerging in the 1950s sought to break free of aesthetic regulations and conventions, as the Macedonian literary critic Milan Gjurchinov might say. These figures-Srbo Ivanovski, Gane Todorvoski, Mateja Matevski, Cane Andreevski, Cvetko Martinovski, Simon Drakul, Blagoj Ivanov, Dimitar Solev, Ante Popovski, the playwrights Branko Pendovski, Georgi Stalev and Tome Arsovski and the literary critics Aleksandar Spasov, Milan Gjurchinov, Aleksandar Aleksiev and Georgi Stardelov-developed Macedonian literature and moved in new directions.
They in turn were joined by the third generation of Macedonian writers: Zhivko Chingo, Petar T. Boshkovski, Jovan Kotevski, Petre M. Andreevski, Petar Shirilov, Metodija Fotev, Ljuben Tashkovski, Tashko Georgievski, Vlada Uroshevich, Radovan Pavlovski, Jovan Pavlovski, Jovan Ivanjin, Mihail Rendzhov, Chedo Jakimovski foremost among them. These writers introduced cosmopolitan preoccupations, myth and traditions, lyrical and magic orientations to Macedonian literature, reintroducing fantasy. The activities of the third generation are explored and explained by the literary critic Miodrag Drugovac who-although somewhat older than most of the group-emerged into Macedonian literature at the same time.
In the course of 1970s, Macedonian literature was by enriched new kinds of poetry and prose by a number of literary figures, the most distinguished among them being Mitko Madzhunkov, Luan Starova (who also writes in Albanian), Vase Manchev, Bozhin Pavlovski, Kata Misirkova-Rumenova, Zoran Kovachevski, Risto Vasilevski, Trajan Petrovski, Dimitar Basevski, Todor Chalovski, Vele Smilevski, Rade Siljan, Katica Kjulafkova, Hristo Georgievski, Petre Bakevski, Petko Dabeski, Dimitar Bashevski, Naume Radichevski, Krste Chachanski; and the playwrights Goran Stefanovski, Jordan Plevnesh, Dejan Dukovski and Jugoslav Petrovski. These writers oriented toward ultra-modern deconstructive trends in contemporary literature. Finally, the next generation of young writers is just now emerging into Macedonian literature: Jordan Danilovski, Hristo Petreski, Marjan Janev, Sasho Gigov and Ermis Lafazanovski.
Macedonian children's literature is rich not only in the number of writers who engage in it but also for the abundance of topics and styles of narration. In addition to above-mentioned authors, among the finest children's writers in Macedonia are Slavko Janevski, Srbo Ivanovski, Vidoe Podgorec, Evgenija Shuplinova, Tome Momirovski, Jovan Strezovski, Vidoe Vidicheski, Aleksandar Popovski, Miho Atanasovski, Olivera Nikolova, Stojan Tarapuza, Jovan Pavlovski, Boshko Smakjovski, Risto Davchevski, Velko Nedelkovski, Milutin Bebekovski, Kiro Donev, Rajko Jovcheski, Vancho Polazarevski and Goran Petreski.
One sign of the increasing world-wide recognition of Macedonian literature is the increase in translations of Macedonian texts. Over the last thirty years about forty anthologies of contemporary Macedonian poetry, prose and dramatic works have been published abroad, translated into Russian, English, French, Chinese, German, Polish, Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Malaysian, Hindu, Slovene, Montenegrin, Serbo-Croat and Albanian.
Many writers in Macedonia now write in Albanian and Turkish, languages which were not allowed to be used for literary creation during the Kingdom of Yugoslavia-but then, Macedonian was frowned upon as well. Among the most distinguished Albanian-language authors are Murteza Peza, Ljutvi Rusi, Murat Isaku, Abdulazis Islami, Sefedin Suleymani, Adem Gaytani, language works include those of Shukri Ramo, Nedzhati Zekiriya, Mustafa Karahasan, Fahri Kaya, Ilhami Emin, Esad Bayram, Nusret Dishu Ulku, Suad Engulu, and Alaetin Tahir.
Two international literary festivals are held annually in Macedonia: the Struga Poetry Evenings and the Racin Meetings. The world-renowned Struga Poetry Evenings began quite modestly on July 15, 1961, the hundredth anniversary of the publication of the Collection of Folk Songs by the brothers Dimitar and Konstantin Miladinov in Struga. The Evenings are now traditionally held in late August. By 1965, the poetry festival had become an event of international character. In the more than three past decades, the occasion has been attended by nearly 3,500 writers, mainly poets, from all over the world. The highest recognition, the Golden Wreath, has so far been awarded to famous masters of the poetic word including: Sacchidanand 'Agyey' (India), Rafael Alberti (Spain), Wystan Hugh Auden (United States), Genady Aygy (Russian Chuvash Republic), Joseph Brodsky (United States), Fazil Hsn Daglarca (Turkey), Hans Magnus Enzensberger (Germany), Allen Ginsberg (United States), Eugne Guillevic (France), Ferenc Juhasz (Hungary), Blazhe Koneski (Macedonia), Miroslav Krlezha (Croatia), Artur Lundkvist (Sweden), Desanka Maksimovich (Serbia), Eugenio Montale (Italy), Laszlo Nagy (Hungary), Pablo Neruda (Chile), Bulat Okudzhava (Russia), Justo Jorge Padron (Spain), Iannis Ritsos (Greece), Tadeusz Rzevicz (Poland), Robert Rozhdestvensky (Russia), Lopold Sdar Senghor (Senegal), Thomas Shapcott (Australia), Nichita Stanescu (Romania), Andrey Voznesensky (Russia).
The Miladinov Brothers Prize is also awarded each year for the best book of poetry by a Macedonian author.
As a commemoration of Kosta Racin, the founder of modern Macedonian literature, each autumn in his birthplace of Titov Veles the Racin Meetings are held, dedicated to prose but also to the rich cultural heritage of the Macedonian people. The contents of the event have been determined by the annual Symposium since the first Racin Meetings in December 19 and 20, 1964. Since 1971 the Racin Recognition Award is given each year to the best work of prose from Macedonia during the previous year. For thirty years, Racin's birthplace has been a gathering place for writers from throughout the Former Yugoslav, and for two years it has now been open to all writers of the Balkans-and the Racin Meetings are now a Balkan event.
Other, smaller events are also held in Macedonia during the course of the year, such as the Days Below Kozyak, the Vevchani Meetings, the Little Messenger Meetings in Kichevo, the Feast in Podgorci, the Galichnik Meetings, the Bigorski Meetings, and the Shaking Hands in Dojran. In Macedonia, literary creation takes a remarkable place among the interests of the population.
Music. At the end of the last century, the first choirs and orchestras using notation signs began to appear in Macedonia. These gradually replaced the Turkish chalgii, small bands using folk instruments, who played without notation and had introduced oriental elements to the Macedonian music. The Mokranjac choir founded in Skopje in 1922 played a remarkable role in the development of musical life in Macedonia. In 1934 the Mokranjac School of Music was opened in Skopje and an active part in its work was taken by Trajko Prokopiev and Todor Skalovski, both of whom later became distinguished Macedonian composers and founders of contemporary Macedonian music, together with Stefan Gajdov, Zhivko Firfov and Petre Bogdanov-Kochko.
On January 19, 1947, the Association of Musicians of Macedonia was founded at the Radio Skopje Building, whereby the foundations of organized musical life of the young Macedonian state were laid. Leaders this association included Petre Bogdanov-Kochko (president), Todor Skalovski, Slavko Kostovski, Vasil Kjortoshev, Zhivko Firfov, Dragan Gjakonovski-Shpato and Aleksandar Shalevski. The main tasks of the association were the preservation of folk music as a part of Macedonia's rich folk tradition; the establishment of ethnomusicology institutions which would help collect and record national folk music; upgrading choiral performances to modern standards; transforming the schools of music into centers of interest and life for young Macedonians; and to compose works to meet the desires and requirements of the Macedonian people. On February 5, the first concert of the Radio Skopje Symphony Orchestra was given, conducted by Todor Skalovski, and featuring soloists Didar Ali on violin, Liljana Kostich on piano, Gligor Smokvarski on clarinet and Ivan Vlahov on viola. The program included works by Mozart, Chopin and Dvorak; but more than its content, its context was that of an exceptional event in the musical life of the country. The appearance of five collections of choir compositions by Macedonian composers in the course of the following few months in 1947 was perhaps even more significant.
On June 19, 1950, the Composers' Association of Macedonia was founded, replacing the Association of Productive Musicians of Macedonia. In the meantime the first Macedonian ballet, A Macedonian Story by Gligor Smokvarski, and the first Macedonian opera, Goce by Kiril Makedonski, were performed along with the first extensive symphony works by young Macedonian composers. The most distinguished among that second generation of composers are Blagoja Ivanovski, Vlastimir Nikolovski, Taki Hrisik, Toma Proshev, Tomislav Zografski, Sotir Golabovski, Aleksandar Lekovski, Dragan Shuplevski and Mihailo Nikolovski. Their works represent a rich spectrum of musical genres and signaled a great improvement in the quality of Macedonian original musical compositions
This trend was continued by the emergence of a group of young, highly-educated Macedonian musical composers including Risto Avramovski, Stojche Toshevski, Aleksandar Dzhambazov, Stojan Stojkov, Ljubomir Brangjolica, Ilija Ilievski, Blagoj Canev, Toma Manchev, Slave Dimitrov, Kiril Todorovski, Jane Kodzhobashija, Dimitrie Buzharovski, Goce Kolarovski and Jana Andreevska, who introduced new style, genre and aesthetic versatility to the the Macedonian musical portfolio.
Opera and ballet. The beginnings of opera and ballet in Macedonia can be traced to the early decades of the 20th century and are directly connected to the existence of theater ensembles in Skopje and Shtip and, to a certain extent, in Bitola. The first stirrings of both arts was the performance of plays accompanied by chorus; at the same time, the formation of choirs, vocal and instrumental ensembles, chamber and philharmonic orchestras and the establishment of schools of music laid the basic foundations upon which Macedonian ballet and opera would be built. The foundation of a musical school in Skopje by patrons of the arts came in 1910. Five years later the opera Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni was performed in Skopje, backed by patrons of opera who subsequently formed their own association.
Somewhat later, Shtip appeared as a mature environment for music and theater. Added to Shtip's vocal ensemble was the innovative music teacher of Russian origin Sergie Mihaylov, while Dushan Budimirovich and Slavko Netkov wrote the opera A Macedonian-the performance of which is now one of the cornerstones of opera in Macedonia, as stated by Risto Stefanovski in his book The Theater in Macedonia. Together with a number of vocal soloists (Andrija Shcherbakov, Blagorodna Burova, Slavko Netkov, Panche Mirovski) and the Edinstvo (Unity) Choir, Mihajlov prepared the première of the opera I Pagliacci by Ruggiero Leoncavallo in 1925 and planned initial performances of Carmen by Georges Bizet, La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi and Faust by Charles Gounod-but only the first act of La Traviata was performed, and little else of the others. Still, by the 1930s the opera ensemble of the Shtip theater already numbered 40 members, and later the operettas Geisha and Mamselle Nitush were performed.
Blagorodna Burova played the main role in most of these features, and as the first great Macedonian opera singer her repertoire included Pavlina from A Macedonian, Nedda from I Pagliacci, Violetta Valery from La Traviata and Gretchen from Faust.
In the early 1920s, Skopje was host to a considerable number of opera and ballet concerts by local artists as well as with guests from Belgrade, Novi Sad, Leningrad, Kiev and Sofia, and in such a way grew familiar with the works of Leoncavallo, Verdi, Massenet, Offenbach, Saint-Saëns, Delibes and other masters. However, its audience demanded full-length performances like that of Cavalleria Rusticana; in 1923-1924 the operettas Mamselle Nitush and The Fair Helen were performed, and in 1925 the play La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils (from which Verdi wrote La Traviata) with the aria of Violetta Valéry from the first act of the opera.
In the 1930s, Skopje enjoyed La Traviata, Madam Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini, Orphée aux enfers by Jacques Offenbach and other works performed fully or in part. In 1937 Cavalleria Rusticana was performed, and Troubadour by Giuseppe Verdi in 1938, while the names of Anatolija Zhukovska, Milosh Ristich, Nina Kirsanova, Pia and Pino Mlakar appeared regularly at the ballet. Some of the figures who had decisive contribution to the development of opera and ballet in post-World War II Macedonia had already grown familiar to audiences during the 1930s as young composers, conductors or singers, the most distinguished among them being Petre Bogdanov-Kochko and Trajko Prokopiev.
An interesting experiment was made in pre-war Bitola with several renowned opera works. Lacking a sufficient number of musicians of the level required for complete opera performances, the artists undertook the staging of dramatic adaptations of Carmen, La Tosca and In the Valley, performed as plays but accompanied by singing using the opera scores of Georges Bizet, Giacomo Puccini and Eugen D'Albert.
The creative upsurge of the Macedonian artists who from 1945 had a chance to create in their mother tongue was naturally reflected in opera and ballet. In the first years following the war, the preconditions were created for professional opera and later on for professional ballet in Macedonia.
May 9, 1947, was the date of the first opera première performed in Macedonian by the newly-established Opera Company of the Macedonian National Theater in Skopje. Cavalleria Rusticana (or The Rural Honor) by Pietro Mascagni was staged and performed by Todor Skalovski (conductor), Branko Pomorishac (director), Petre Bogdanov-Kochko, Todor Skalovski and Stefan Gajdov (choir-master), Liljana Kostich-Topaloska (rehearser), Stefan Gajdov and Zhivko Firfov (stage manager and prompter-an example of wonderful enthusiasm) and the vocal soloists Elisaveta Savchenko and Danka Firfova (Sactuzza), Milka Gushevska (Lola), Petre Bogdanov-Kochko (Truidu), Stefan Rusjakov (Alphio) and Ganka Atanasova-Markovich (Lucia), accompanied by the Symphony Radio Orchestra, the Radio Choir and the Students' Choir.
Shortly after, the first Macedonian ballet made its debut. The dancing in the performance of La Traviata on November 29, 1948 was presented with such approval and applause that the same choreography by Gjorgi Makedonski is still used today (for nearly half a century!). It was followed by a ballet performance of the more extensive Walpurgisnacht (from Faust), and on January 4, 1950, the Ballet Company presented their first full-length performance: The Bahchiserai Fountain by Boris Asfajev, choreographed by Gjorgi Makedonski.
In its early years, the Opera Company of the Macedonian National Theater undertook performances of the most beautiful works of the "steel" repertoire-I Pagliacci by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, La Tosca by Giacomo Puccini, Orpheus and Eurydice by Cristoph Willibald Gluck and La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (all conducted by Todor Skalovski), as well as, Die Entführung aus dem Sarail by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, (conducted by Lovro Matachich), The Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana (conducted by Trajko Prokopiev), La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini and Carmen by Georges Bizet. This was naturally followed by a complete "Verdiane" (works by Verdi) with the premières of Troubadour, Rigoletto, Aïda and Un Ballo in Maschera, combined occasionally with works by Cimarosa, Tchaikovsky, Massenet and Rossini.
An entire generation of vocal soloists was also on the rise, along with young musicians, set designers, costume designers, directors and choreographers. Musical education achieved great growth during these years through the establishment of music schools (primary, secondary or both) in Skopje, Titov Veles, Kumanovo, Prilep, Strumica, Tetovo, Ohrid, Kochani and Kavadarci, in turn culminating in the establishment of the High Music School in 1966, the present-day Faculty of Musical Arts in Skopje within the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius. Likewise, ballet education was organized at the level of a school, incorporated today within the Ilija Nikolovski-Luj Musical-Ballet Educational Center in Skopje.
The most distinguished of the first generation of opera singers remain Petre Bogdanov-Kochko, Vasil Kjortoshev, Fanka Ikonomova, Stefan Rusjakov, Vaska Bidzhova-Gajdova, Tomche Grncharovski, Ana Lipsha-Tofovich, Pavlina Apostolova, Blagoja Petrov-Karagjule, Goga Trajkov, Stanko Lipsha, Maria Mirchov-Skalovska, Metodija Ilievska-Kreola, Dimitar Marinovski and Dancho Mitrovski-the latter subsequently an opera director. During the same period, Toma Vladimirski, Vasilie Popovich-Cico, Branko Kostovski and somewhat later Rada Petrova created their first scenographic and costume designing works.
The first Macedonian ballet artists who appeared in the Ballet Company were Gjorgi Makedonski, Natka Penushliska-Mitrovska, Magdalena Janeva, Elpida Pakovska, Elica Popovska, Emilija Dzhipunova, Toni Shulevski, Olga Milosavleva, Janka Atanasova, Vera Brangjolica, Konstantin Lashkov, Boris Petkovski, Aleksandar Dobrohotov and a few others. The Ballet Company did not lag behind the Opera Company, and staged an extensive classical repertoire which included Coppélia by Delibes, Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky, Giselle by Adam (choreography by Nina Kirsanova) Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky (choreography by Gjorgi Makedonski), Don Quixote by Minkus and Romeo and Juliette by Prokofiev.
The further development of the Opera and Ballet Companies of the Macedonian National Theater before and after the 1960s was promoted by the emergence of a younger generation of singers-Nikola Gagov, Milka Eftimova, Blagoja Nikolovski, Stojan Ganchev-Stojanov, Gjorgi Bozhikov, Anastasia Dimitrova, Miomir Tasich, Anastazija Nizamova, Liljana Zendelska. Simeon Gugulovski, Mira Bunardzhieva, Boris Trajanov, Slavica Petrovska-Galich; and of ballet soloists-Jovan Pashti, Aleksandar Stojanovich, Liljana Batalkova, Gjurgica Jovanovska, Aleksandar Hadzhimanov, Ekrem Husein, Marin Crvenov, Toni Batalkov, Boris Karev, Jagoda Slaneva, Zoran Velevski, Zoica Purovska, Tanja Vuisich-Todorovska, Irina Veterova, Goran Bozhinov and Suzana Momirovska. There were also some guest artists who performed and worked in Skopje for several seasons, including Mario Gjuranec, Ana Ivanishevich, Kosta Shuvakovich, Jurij Mjachin, Vera Kostich and Ino Perishich.
The task of uniting artistic abilities for the entire opera-ballet repertoire was the duty and concern of the conductors Todor Skalovski, Trajko Prokopiev, Kiril Spirovski, Angel Shurev, Fimcho Muratovski, Aleksandar Lekovski, Vancho Chavdarski and Tomislav Shopov, among others.
Soon after the establishment of the Opera and Ballet Companies of the Macedonian National Theater, the artists undertook a wonderful task-staging and performing works by Macedonian composers. From the first Macedonian ballet, A Macedonian Story by Gligor Smokvarski (choreography by Dimitrie Parlich) in 1953 to the present day, the audience has had opportunities to enjoy performances of about 30 works by the Macedonian composers Trajko Prokopiev (Labin and Dojrana-the first Macedonian full-length ballet), Ljubomir Brangjolica (The Metropolis Variations, War Story, Reflection, The Legend of Dubrovnik, The Constellation by Blazhe Koneski), Toma Proshev (Frames and Echoes, The Song of the Songs), Aleksandar Lekovski (Strivings), Dimitrie Buzharovski (Trains), Tomislav Zografski, Blagoja Ivanovski, Vlatko Stefanovski, Bodan Arsovski and others.
Over five decades, Olga Milosavleva has been present as a choreographer with an exceptional and large opus (Labin and Dojrana, A Reflection, Bolero, A Straussiade, Zodiac), from time-to-time joined by other former ballet dancers such as Natka Penushliska-Mitrovska, Ekrem Husein, Marin Crvenov, Aleksandar Stojanovich and Jagoda Slaneva.
The Macedonian National Opera Company emerged in 1954 with the performance of Goce by Kiril Makedonski, the author of the operas Tsar Samuil and Ilinden. Among the Macedonian opera composers whose works have been staged and performed in the Macedonian National Theater are also Toma Proshev (The Cobweb and The Little Prince), Trajko Prokopiev with (The Parting and Kuzman Kapidan), Risto Avramovski with (Sick Dojchin), Dimitrie Buzharovski with (The Sugar Tale, Despina and Dox), Sotir Golabovski (The Story of the Cricket and the Ants) and Blagoja Trajkov (A Furrow).
In order to complete this summary of the opera and ballet arts in Macedonia, one should not leave out an event of significant international reputation-the May Opera Evenings held each year in Skopje since 1972 at the conception, initiative and original organization of Vasil Kjortoshev. The May Opera Evenings has become a festival for opera soloists from over 50 countries, with performances of an international quality. Fifteen performances have represented the pinnacle of world opera production at the time, with performances by Nicholae Herlea, Vladislav Pyavko, Radmila Bakochevich, Zhuzha Misura and Miora Cortez-David. By taking part in all performances of the May Opera Evenings despite the difficulty of the engagement, the Opera Company of the Macedonian National Theater and, to a smaller extent, the Ballet Company, have acquired dimensions which would otherwise likely taken a long time to come to furition -or which would never have been achieved at all.

Visual art. The creative work of Macedonian artists can be followed with continuity since the early 13th century. Siljan from the village of Tresonche inscribed his name on an icon in the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin in Veles, in the year he painted the icon: 1725. From that time until 1880, when the first paintings were made by Dimitar Andonov Papradishki, abandoning established formulae of church art, a number of exceptional artists emerged in Macedonia, and their works are the sum an entire period of church painting. The most distinguished among them were Trpe Zograph, who painted the grave chapel of St. Naum in the Monastery of St. Naum; Teodosij Zograph, born in Veles, who painted the Church of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin in Novo Selo near Shtip and the painting "The Readily Assistant Mother of God" in 1828, depicting his self-portrait and the portraits of his wife and son.
At that time, several zographs worked in Veles, including Krste Pop Trajanovich, Damjan Jankulov and his son Gjorgi Jankulov and additional, lesser zographs. In the beginning of the 19th century, a group of zographs from Albania arrived in Macedonia, including the well-known Mihailo and his sons Dimitrija and Nikola. They decorated the men's refectory of the Monastery of St. John Bigorski with frescoes, and painted the iconostasis of the monastery church (1830-1833). In 1946, the zograph Gjorgi and his son Manuil from Kostur painted the iconostasis in the Church of St. Demetrius in Bitola, and somewhat later Manuil frescoed the Church of the Large Holy Anargyroi (the Holy Healers) in Ohrid.
All the zographs who worked in Macedonia in the second half of the 19th century were of Macedonian origin. The most distinguished among them was Dicho Zograph (Dimitar Krstev) from the Debar village of Tresonche. He painted frescoes in a number of churches in Western Macedonia between 1848 to 1852, including the frescoes in the monastery church of St. John Bigorski and the Church of St. George the Triumphant in the village of Rajchica. He also worked on the Iconostasis and the paintings of the Church of St. Nicholas Gerakomia in Ohrid over 1862 to 1869.
Among the numerous Macedonian zographs of the second half of the 19th century, renowned are the names of Blagoj Damjanov from Tresonche and his sons Mihail and Hristo, the zographs of the Frchkovski family, Hristo Makriev, Kuzman Blazhenov and his son Janko, and Danil Nestorov.
Dimitar Papradishki abandoned the standards of church painting and turned to secular themes. In addition to a considerable number of icons and mural compositions, Papradishki left behind numerous portraits, landscapes and paintings with patriotic themes. The younger Georgi Zografski was a notable figurative painter, who left behind a number of portraits.
The foundations of contemporary and modern Macedonian visual art were laid by several painters in the 1930s, educated in European visual art centers and specializing in European art themes. Among them were Dimitar Pandilov-Avramovski, Lazar Lichenovski, Nikola Martinovski, Vangel Kodzhoman, Tome Vladimirski, Ljubomir Belogaski, Vasilie Popovich-Cico, Kiril Karadzha, Dimche Koco and Borko Lazeski.
In 1945, immediately after World War II, the Art School was opened in Skopje. The following year, the Association of the Visual Artists of Macedonia (DLUM) was formed, and the first group exhibition of the members of the DLUM was displayed in Skopje in 1947. An art gallery opened in Skopje in 1949. One year after the disastrous earthquake of 1963, the Skopje Museum of Contemporary Art was opened, which along with several art galleries played a decisive role in the development of the visual arts in Macedonia.
With the passing of time, the themes connected with the revolution and the rebuilding of the country gave way to universal themes of man and his existence.
Younger generations widened interest in the possibilities of form and style. Painters like Pece Vidimche, Mile Korubin, Risto Lozanovski, Katja Eftimova, Borislav Trajkovski, Petar Mazev, Spase Kunoski, Toma Shijak, Ljubodrag Marinkovich-Penkin, Ordan Petlevski, Dragutin Avramoski-Gute, Ivan Velkov, Vancho Georgievski, Dimitar Kondovski, Bogoljub Ivkovich, Risto Kalchevski, Trajche Janchevski, and, somewhat later, Rodoljub Anastasov, Vangel Naumovski and Dushko Stojanovski introduced refined drawing and colorful expression, penetrated the fantastic, erotic and the subconscious, and created an abundant range of works.
According to the opinions of art historians, the pronounced interest in tradition and discovery of new relations towards the physical and social environment of Macedonia is characteristic of a large group of outstanding painters who emerged betweeen the 1960s and 1970s: Gligor Chemerski, Aleksandar Risteski, Ilinka Gligorieva, Simeon Shemov, Nove Frangovski, Vasko Tashkovski, Tanas Lulovski, Nikola Fidanovski, Ana Temkova, Rubens Korubin, Dushan Perchinkov, Done Miljanovski, Kole Manev, Pavle Kuzmanovski, Taki Pavlovski, Vladimir Georgievski, Kiril Efremov, Ilija Penushliski, Gjoko Matevski, Zharko Jakimovski, Dimitar Manev, Ilija Kochovski, Blagoja Nikolovski, Ilija Arizanov and Gligor Stefanov.
The beginnings of contemporary graphic art in Macedonia can be traced to the pre-war wood engravings and linocuts by Vasilie Popovich-Cico, Dimitar Pandilov-Avramovski, Ljubomir Belogaski, Borko Lazeski and the illustrations by Nikola Martinovski. Following World War II, a large number of young visual artists were solely engaged in graphics, such as Bozhin Barutovski, Menche Spirovska, Dragan Bikov, Tomislav Krmov, Dimitar Malidanov, Georgi Chulakovski and Biljana Unkovska.
The appearance of the academic sculptor Eftim Andonov was of great significance for sculpture, whereas Dimo Todorovski, according to art historians, is the founder of contemporary Macedonian sculpture. The long list of contemporary Macedonian sculptors would not be complete without the names of Borka Avramova, Jordan Grabulovski, Boro Mitrikeski, Ilija Adzhievski, Petar Hadzhi Boshkov, Tome Serafimovski, Dragan Poposki-Dada, Stefan Manevski, Vasil Vasilev, Naso Bekaroski, Branko Koneski, Aneta Svetieva, Olga Milich, Blagoja Chushkov, Aleksandar Ivanovski-Karadare, Milan Jovanovich and Nikola Shentevski.
Interior decorating and furniture design has been the occupation of M. Chakelja, L. Kubesh, S. Brezovski, G.Georgievski and D. Shojlevski.
In the field of scenography the most distinguished names are Vasilie Popovich-Cico, Toma Vladimirski, Branko Kostovski, Dime Shumka, Dimitar Kondovski and Vladimir Georgievski, while the younger generation includes Krste S. Dzhidrov, Valentin Svetozerev, Aleksandar Karadare and Mustafa Asim. Engaged in textiles and fashion are Rada Petrova-Malkich, Dushko Stojanovski, Elena Patrnogich, Georgi Zdravev, Zorica Todorovska, Elena Doncheva, Lira Grabul, Meri Gjorgievska and Blagoj Micevski. The tapestries of Lazar Lichenovski, Dimche Protuger, Dimche Koco, Done Miljanovski and Slobodan Trajkovski are well-known.
In Macedonia there are a number of outstanding artists engaged in designing books, including Niko Tozi, Kosta Bojadzhievski, Dimitar Kondovski, Mladen Tunich, Aco Kaevski, Aleksandar Cvetkovski, Konstantin Tanchev-Dinka, Kocho Fidanovski and Dimche Isajlovski.
The most distinguished Macedonian art photographers are Blagoj Drnkov, Kiro Bilbilovski, Zhivko Janevski, Robert Jaki and Aleksandar Cvetinovski.
Architecture. As noted, in the second half of the 19th century popular architecture in Macedonia entered its rich, original and mature stage and found its specific expression in the residential houses of Ohrid, Krushevo, Veles and Kratovo. The European influence on the architecture of Macedonia, particularly strong in the late 19th century, is visible in the urban architecture of Bitola and Skopje.
The period after 1944, when the country was renovated and rebuilt, was marked by intensive construction and Macedonian architecture was internationally recognized. The buildings constructed at that time, subject to urgent construction programs, are marked by rational and unpretentious architecture. Towards the 1950s, however, a group of architects emerged whose creative sensibility was formed under direct influence of the contemporary European and world architecture. Members of this group include Tomovski, Chakelja, Boris Chipan, Aleksandar Serafimovski, Krum Tomovski, Slavko Brezovski, Risto Galich and Dushko Pecevski, as well as the younger Petkov, Kjosevski, Tomich and Shekerinski. Architects from the other former Yugoslav republics participated in the rebuilding of Macedonia as well, such as Urlih, Mihevc, Ancel and Rankovich, as did the Czechoslovak architect Ludek Kubesh.
After the 1963 earthquake Skopje was the center of new urban plans and architectural activity. A number of architects of international reputation-Tange from Tokyo, Van der Broeck and Backem from Rotterdam, Pinzinatto from Rome, teams of architects from Warszaw and Athens, Ravnikar from Ljubljana and Venzler and Mishevich from Zagreb-worked on the new urban plan of the stricken town and stimulated the extension of architectural views characteristic of the Macedonian capital. During the renovation of Skopje some established architects acquired additional affirmation, and new names emerged as well: Ladinska, Smilevski, Gjurich, Kjoseva, Bogachev and Simoski.
Towards the middle of the 1960s, a group of Skopje-educated architects was formed, a new generation which marked its presence with a number of modern buildings inspired by contemporary architectural theory. Among this post-earthquake group are Ljubinka Malenkova, Georgi and Janko Konstantinovi, Petar Mulichkovski, Blagoja Kolev, Trajko Dimitrov, Ljuben Najdenov, Radomir Lalovich, Kiril Muratovski, Zhivko Popovski and Zhivko Gelevski; they were joined in time by Vladimir Nikolovski, Ilija Gerasimovski, Miroslav Sidovski, N. Bocieva, Kiril Zarov, P. Mitkov, S. Hadzhievi, M. Hadzhievi, V. Nikolikjeva, Nikola Kartashev, Mihail Grankov, T. Paskali, V. Zarchevi, D. Zarchevi and P. Balabanov.
Theater. The beginnings of the play in theater lay in the Dionysian Bacchanalia held throughout Ancient Macedonia. The god Dionysus, through a play, came among the people disguised as a male goat or bull and freed them from their difficulties, concerns and problems. Archaeological finds in Macedonia confirm the view that Classical dramatic art, in all the stages of its development, left traces of its presence in Macedonia as well. The figurine of the goddess Maenad dating from the 6th century B.C. discovered near Tetovo (hence the name of this archaeological find-Tetovo Maenad), the red-figured hydria from the 5th century B.C. unearthed near Demir Kapija, the red-figured vessel (4th century B.C.) on which Dionysus and a group of maenads are depicted are all kept in the Archaeological Museum of Skopje, convincing evidence of the presence and wide acceptance of the theater play among the population of ancient Macedonia. Four antique theaters have been discovered in Macedonia: in Stobi, Heraclea, Ohrid and Scupi.
The Byzantines cherished a number of theatrical forms and these were popular in Macedonia as well. There was drama, juggling, horse racing and hunting wild animals. During the fairs, short stage performances were presented, entertaining and attracting the people. The Slavs had also their own games, puppet theater and musicians. The church, in principle, was against all forms of stage games. St. John Chrysostom was a bitter opponent of all such games, as they "display debauchery and adultery, blasphemous words are spoken, and the disease enters both through the eyes and through the ears."
Many customs of the Slavs such as like babari (masked dancers at Old New Year's Eve, January 14), vasilichari (Vasilitza-St. Basil companies), koledari (Christmas carolers), lazarichari (Lazarus' Day dancers), dodolari (ritual rainmaking groups), rusalii (ritual dancers with swords), include pronounced dramatic elements, often combined with singing and music. In everyday life, all of these were attached to popular beliefs and their roots can be traced to pagan customs. Through these "besovski igri" (devilish dances), as the church referred to folk customs beyond the frames of its canons, the people supplemented Christianity with pagan remnants in the belief that by certain ritual acts they could expel evil spirits, call rain, and wish for fertile years for the neighbors and friends and alike.
During Ottoman rule over Macedonia the theatrical forms of karagyoz and medih (Turkish shadow puppet theater) were introduced, which widely spread throughout the country. The rapid development of the theater in Constantinople towards the middle of the 19th century was reflected in similar development in Macedonia, particularly in Thessaloniki but also, some time later, in Skopje. In 1897, guest performances were given in Skopje by an Armenian theater group of Boges, which then remained in Skopje as the "Boges Theater".
The first theater building on the territory the Republic of Macedonia was built in Skopje in 1906 by the Skopje vali (governor of a vilayet) Shefket Pasha. The repertoire mostly included guest performances by theatrical groups and ensembles. About the same time, a theater building was constructed in Bitola as well, begun in 1897 at the insistence of the Bitola vali Abdul Kerim and finished in 1908.
The founder of Macedonian dramatic literature and theatrical activity in the Macedonian language was Jordan Hadzhi Konstantinov-Dzhinot. In the middle of the last century, this outstanding Macedonian revivalist created the possiblity, through a number of dramolets (short plays), for a new spiritual expression of the Macedonian-in other words, he created the Macedonian theater. In December 1874, the first performance of the Veles Theater Amateurs' A Failed Merchant or a Death Sentence was presented in Veles. A few months later, a drama section was formed in Veles within the framework of the Spark Association for National Education. Soon the second première was performed, this time the play The Most Suffering Genevieve, where, for the first time in the history of the Macedonian theater, a role was played by a woman-T. A. Kolarova. Until then, female roles were played by men.
The true founder of the contemporary Macedonian theater is Vojdan Chernodrinski, an idealist who believed strongly in the ideals of his people and freedom of his homeland. Through his dramatic and theater works, Chernodrinski and his theater group, the Young Macedonian Company, carried out an important dramatic and national mission. The première of his play Macedonian Blood Wedding, performed on November 7, 1900, represented a significant date for the Macedonian theater. This play is still included in the present repertoires of the Macedonian theaters.
The first permanent theater in Macedonia was established in late 1913-the Serbian National Theater, with Branislav Nushich its manager. In the 1927-1928 season, Lenche from Kumanovo by Vasil Iljoski, the first play in Macedonian, was performed on the stage of this theater-unfortunately, only for a short run. With considerable alteration, it was staged again in the Serbian Theater in Skopje in 1936, and achieved great success.
One year after the première of Lenche from Kumanovo in 1928, Anton Panov presented "the play with singing from South Serbian life in 4 scenes"-Migrant Workers. The première of this play was performed in Skopje in 1936 and made "an deep impression on the audience, of a level never previously seen," according to the critics. The Migrant Workers remained on the repertoire list until 1940, with 71 performances and a total audience of 28,423.
On April 27, 1937, the première of the second play by Vasil Iljoski, He Trod on Man (later known under the name The Rich Man Theodos) was performed. At the end of December 1938, the première of the play Money Is a Killer, written in Macedonian by Risto Krle, was performed on the stage of the Skopje theater.
However, in the announcements and in the official media it was persistently introduced as "a play written in a South Serbian dialect", part of the extensive nonrecognition of the Macedonian people within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia-and hence, the nonrecognition of the Macedonian language.
In the 1939-1940 season, Krle's second play Antica was performed, and in the autumn of 1940, his third work, the play Millions of Martyrs saw its première as well. The period of the appearance of the works of Iljoski, Panov and Krle is a period of the steady penetration of Macedonian vernacular into literature.
Bitola has possessed a regular theatrical life since 1918, when the Military Theater of Tosha Jovanovich became the Town Theater of Bitola. Due to financial difficulties, the Bitola theater's work was continually interrupted until August 1924 when, by official act of the Ministry of Education, it was proclaimed a state institution under the name Town Theater. In April 1926, the Skopje and Bitola theaters were united within a single theater institution, under the common name the Skopje-Bitola National Theater. Only a year later, the Skopje theater separated from Bitola, and the theatrical group from the latter town was dismissed. In fact, the Skopje artists were not in need of a theater building any more-the new Skopje Theater by the Vardar River had been completed. After many problems and obstacles over 1932 to 1937, the theater in Bitola operated under as Good Field Theater. Its members included many fine artists who remained devoted to the theater, including Petar Veljanovski, Pavle Pavlovski, Boris Boshlakovski, Petar Zhezhoski and Vele Goco, as well as the young Dimche and Aco Stefanovski.
The existence of the theater in Skopje does not imply that there was not any theatrical activity in other places throughout Macedonia. The theatrical play had considerable influence in spreading love for the theater, and developing in many of towns-Bitola, Veles, Gevgelija, Prilep, Tetovo, Strumica, Ohrid, and in Skopje as well. Until 1940, the territory of the Republic of Macedonia was crisscrossed by traveling theaters, mostly from Serbia. Among them were the State Privileged Boemi Vardar Theater of Petre Prlichko, and the theater of Dimche Trajkovski. Todorche Nikolovski and Trajko Chorevski were members of the latter theater for a time.
In November 1944, immediately after the liberation of Skopje, the first professional theater in Macedonia was established. The artists, mainly members of the military Kocho Racin Cultural and Artistic Group, composed the ensemble of the new Macedonian National Theater. These men and women included Petre Prlichko, Todor Nikolovski, Ilija Dzhuvalekovski, Meri Boshkova, Kiro Kjortoshev, Todorka Kondeva, Ilija Milchin, Krum Stojanov, Cvetanka Jakimovska, Toma Kirovski, Dobrila Puckova, Stojka Cekova, Boris Stefanovski, Vukan Dinevski, Darko Dameski, Dragi Kostovski, Dragi Krstevski and Aco Jovanovski. The first manager of the theater, Dimitar Kjostarov, and the actors Petre Prlichko and Ilija Milchin were engaged as directors. Other theaters were staffed by the following artists:
Bitola: Dushan Naumovski, Kosta Dzhekoski, Aco and Dimche Stefanovski, Petar Veljanovski, Petar Stojkoski, Olga Naumovska, Ljubisha Trajkovski;
Prilep: Mirko Stefanovski, Nada Geshovska, Dimitar Geshovski, Kiril Zhezhoski, Cane Nasoski, Rampo Koneski, Pravda Ilich;
Shtip: Aleko Protogerov, Ilija Arev, Ruzha Ikonomova and Toma Gagovski;
Titov Veles: Boris Beginov, Nikola Dimitrov and Olivera Nikolova;
Strumica: Stojan Gagov and Aleksandar Dumov;
Kumanovo: Gjoko Nikolovski and Petar Tasevski;
Tetovo: Panta Nikolich, Ace Cvetkovski, Panche Kamdzhik and Ubavka Slavuich;
Turkish Drama Company of the Theater of Nationalities: Erdan Maksut, Mustafa Yashar, Ekasa Kaso and Atila Klinche;
Albanian Drama Company of the Theater of Nationalities in Skopje: and Mark Marku, Bayrush Miaku, Sefedin Nuredini, Silvana Baychinovci, Liman Niyazi and Teuta Aydini.
While at the Macedonian National Theater preparations were begun for the first premiere of the play Platon Kretchet by A. Korneychuk, the ensemble performed short plays with war themes. The première of Platon Kretchet was performed on April 3, 1945, the beginning of the rapid development of contemporary Macedonian theatrical arts. Within 20 years, the Macedonian National Theater could boast of more than 60 premières, including those of local Macedonian authors like Iljoski and Chashule, classics of Yugoslav drama such as Krlezha, Nushich, Cankar, Marinkovich, and masters of drama such as Shakespeare, Moliere, Gogol, Ostrovsky, Gorky, Schiller and Shaw.
In the autumn of 1944, a professional theater was established in Bitola as well, and over the course of the following years such theaters were founded in other larger towns in Macedonia. Today, there are professional theaters in Skopje (the Drama Company of the Macedonian National Theater, the Drama Theater, the Theater of the Nationalities with the Albanian and Turkish Drama Companies and the Children's Theater), Bitola, Kumanovo, Prilep, Shtip, Titov Veles and Strumica. A remarkable role in the theater life of Macedonia was played by the Romani Theater in Skopje, but the institution has moved to Germany a few years ago.
Over the past decades, the Macedonian theater achieved remarkable progress, accompanied by a policy of extensive programs and clearly-expressed aesthetic trends, supplementing the list of artists who improved its reputation and made its presence in the cultural life of Macedonia one of the key components of the spiritual superstructure. New playwrights emerged: Branko Pendovski, Tome Arsovski, Zhivko Chingo, Goran Stefanovski and Jordan Plevnesh in the first generation, and Zhanina Mirchevska, Maja Stefanovich, Dejan Dukovski, Ognen Nedelkovski and Jugoslav Petrovski in the second generation.
Ljubisha Georgievski, Slobodan Unkovski, Vladimir Milchin, Branko Stavrev, Kole Angelovski, Rahim Burhan, Dushko Naumovski, Aco Aleksov, Dimitar Hristov, Ljupcho Tozija, Georgi Stojanovski, Stojan Stojanovski, Vladimir Cvetanovski, Sasho Milenkovski, Goran Trenchovski, Aleksandar Popovski, Darko Mitrevski and Ljupcho Gjorgievski all directed theaters in Macedonia, as well as peforming numerous guest performances in the United States, Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and theaters throughout the Former Yugoslavia. The accomplishments of these actors and directors affirmed the place of the Macedonian theater among international circles.
In the meantime, and particularly after the opening of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Skopje, young artists free from theatrical prejudice appeared on stages throughout Macedonia. Participating in the most significant performances and companies of Former Yugoslavia-the Sterija's Theater, the Small Scenes Festival in Sarajevo, and so on- many of them, directors alike, won the high praise and awards.
Here one should certainly mention the names of Risto Shishkov, Meto Jovanovski, Milica Stojanova, Joana Popovska, Mite Grozdanov, Snezhana Stameska, Nenad Stojanovski, Vladimir Svetiev, Dushko Kostovski, Kiril Andonovski, Kiril Ristovski, Anche Dzhambazova, Slavcho Ninov, Kole Angelovski, Petar Temelkovski, Stevo Spasovski, Emil Ruben, Sabina Ajrula-Tozi, Bediya Beyoglu, Salaetin Bilal, Katina Ivanova, Snezhana Konevska-Rusi, Mimi Tanevska, Silvija Stojanovska, Emilija Andreeva, Sonja Mihajlova, Gjorgi Jolevski, Petar Mirchevski, Filimen Dzhinev, Katerina Kocevska, Nikola Ristanovski, Magdalena Rizova, Senko Velinov, Dragan Spasov, Biljana Belichanec, Biljana Tanevska, Igor Dzhambazov, Vlado Jovanovski, etc.
The number of non-professional and amateur theater companies throughout the Republic is considerable. In the 1990-1991 season, the Bitola theater staged 13 plays with a total of 146 performances, attracting a combined audience of 56,500. During the same season, the Kumanovo theater presented only four works with a total of 31 performances, for a combined audience of 6,630. Five works were performed by the Prilep theater 90 times, for the enjoyment of 23,330. In the same season, the Skopje theaters staged 60 plays and 531 performances before a grand total of 193,481 patrons of the arts. The Strumica theater performed seven plays 61 times and attracted 17,621. The theater in Titov Veles presented four plays for 85 performances before a total audience of 30,450. Finally, the Shtip theater had five premières in that same season with 75 performances and a grand attendance of 19,450.
>From June 4 to June 10, 1965, the First Festival of Professional Theaters of the Republic was held in Prilep, organized by the Association of the Drama Artists of Macedonia. The festival was named in honor of the founder of the drama and theater life on this territory, Vojdan Chernodrinski. Since that day, the finest works of Macedonian theaters are presented each year at the Festival in Prilep. The Vojdan Chernodrinski Theater Festival played a crucial role in upgrading the quality of the Macedonian theater, at the same time stimulating both the contemporary Macedonian drama literature and the polyphony of the theatrical play.
In May 1976 a group of young enthusiasts founded the Open Youth Theater Festival (MOT) in Skopje. More than 250 theatrical performances have been presented at this festival so far, most of them by alternative, experimental theater groups engaging young writers and actors. On the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the Open Youth Theater was a festival in which every one wished to take part and display their talent! For several years now, the Open Youth Theater has been an international festival: to date, guest performances within its framework have been given in Skopje by groups from the Successors States of the Former Yugoslavia, the United States, France, the Soviet Union, Russia, Spain, Japan, Poland, Italy, the United Kingdom, India and other countries. Recently, the Open Youth Theater became a member of the Brussels Informal European Theater Meeting (IETM), a network of 250 world theater festivals, institutes and companies. Within the framework of the Open Youth Theater, a Macedonian National Center of the International Theater Institute (ITI) was established, and at the 25th ITT World Congress in Munich in 1993, it was received as a regular member of this theater association.
Drama takes a notable role within the framework of the Ohrid Summer Music and Theater Festival, with theater projects specially prepared for this international event. Only three years after beginning the first musical performances at the Ohrid Summer Festival, in 1964 As You Like It by Shakespeare, directed by Dimitar Kjostarov, was peformed, soon followed by the collage Laughing Is Not a Sin produced by Ilija Milchin and Toma Kirovski. Both were performed by members of the Macedonian National Theater.
Over the course of a year several other theater festivals are held in the Republic of Macedonia, including the Festival of the Amateur Theaters in Kochani (FAAT), the Days of Risto Shishkov in Strumica and the theater projects presented within the International Festival of Popular and Classical Music in Bitola.
Film. The appearance of the cinema within Macedonia dates from the beginning of the century. Ten years after the promotion of this new art at the famous Grande Caffè in Paris (1895), the Manaki brothers shot the first filmed scenes in the Balkans on Macedonian soil and thereby marked the expansion of the new medium.
The shots by Milton and Janaki Manaki at the beginning of their careers were in Bitola, Bar and Avdela. Conceived as individual film episodes, these scenes of family life and collective rites and customs have preserved their documentary and ethnologic value up to the present day (these include Despa Manaki Spinning, The Celebration of Epiphany, A Fair in Ber). However, scenes of the films made in following years already announced the maturity of Milton's talent. In the documentary about the visit of Sultan Reshad to Thessalonika and Bitola (1911), he displayed abundant documentary material in more complex genre forms (as feuilleton, as chronicle, and as report).
Before the Manaki brothers had emerged, there were already a number of traveling artists whose programs included the sensational presentations of "moving pictures". The first projection took place as early as 1896, and by the beginning of the current century they grew frequent. An increasing number of projectors were owned and operated by such individuals as Milan Golubovski from Skopje and Konstantin Chomu from Bitola.
In this period, the cinema careers of the Manaki brothers did not gain many supporters and successors. It was not until the Ilinden Uprising and post-Ilinden events that Macedonia became an area of interest for foreign film-makers. Pattè staged scenes of bloodshed in Macedonia, wishing to direct attention to the resistance of the Macedonian people. Much more valuable to the historian than these stage-managed massacres and atrocities are the authentic documentary films about the battles at Bregalnica and Skopje made by the cameramen of Patti, Gaumont and other Austro-Hungarian and German companies.
In the interwar period, Macedonia occasionally spawned film enthusiasts such as Arsenie Jovakov and Georgi Zankov, authors of the documentary Macedonia (1923), and vigorous professionals such as Riste Zerdeski-actor, cameraman, producer and creator of the feature film The Two of Them in Zagreb.
A greater degree of organization in the programs was introduced in the 1930s by the Skopje Public Health Institute. Their list included a considerable number of stories with didactic themes as well as the feature film Malaria, filmed in 1932. In this period the documentary director Blagoja Drnkov began his prolific film-making career, leaving behind a rich collection of works with high ethnological and historical value: notably the Bombing of Bitola and The Gliders' Meeting in Skopje, both from 1940.
In 1945, the first institution for organized production, distribution and display of films in Macedonia, FIDIMA, was founded. This was the beginning of mobilization of the Macedonian film industry. It has continued to the present day, although not without productive and qualitative unevenness.
A large number of Macedonian film-makers were integrated in the production house Vardar Film (established in 1947). Here, the emphasis was on making films with historical content and themes. The historical spectacle remained for a long time one of the preoccupations of the directors and producers; the doyen of the post-war documentary film, Trajche Popov, likewise gave his contribution for the promotion of this genre (Macedonian Blood Wedding, 1967). Directors of the younger generations followed this lead, such as Ljubisha Georgievski (A Blazing Republic, 1969), Kiril Cenevski (Bitterness, 1975), and directors who had often been guests of Vardar Film, such as Zhika Mitrovich (Miss Stone, 1958).
The films are often interwoven with the theme of war: Frosina, 1952 (the first Macedonian feature film), The Macedonian Share of Hell, 1971, Black Seed, 1971 (where Kiril Cenevski was discovered, and winner of The Golden Arena in Pula, and acknowledgment at the International Festival in Moscow). War films like The Price of the City, 1970 made use of the motifs of ancient legends, while the drama of The Wolves' Night, 1955, recognized the spirit of moral stoicism, skepticism and fighting asceticism.
Macedonian films demonstrated much greater creative thought, originality of ideas and boldness of poetics in the part of production which treated issues of contemporary moral behavior. For modern dilemmas and temptations, analogies are looked for in the past: Time without a War, 1969, by Branko Gapo, used Biblical analogies to link the fates of the father and the son in two different social environs-the war and the peacetime period. Stole Popov used the themes of the exodus of the Macedonian population (The Red Horse, 1981), the tragic period of the Cominform when ideals were lost along with the disintegration of the homogeneous communities like that of the family (Happy New 1949, 1986, winner of The Golden Arena in Pula) and the degradation of the individual to the point of physical destruction (Tattooing, 1991).
Close to both the thematic and creative position of these films was the feature début of Vladimir Blazhevski, Hi-Fi, in 1987, followed by débuts in single episodes of the film Light-Grey, 1993, of Aleksandar Popovski, Srgjan Janichievich and Darko Mitrevski. An outstanding success was achieved by Milcho Manchevski with Before the Rain, a Macedonian, English and American co-production, winning The Golden Lion at the Venice festival (1994) and more than twenty other awards and acknowledgments at international festivals worldwide. This film was nominated for an Oscar in 1994.
It is worth noting that Macedonian motion pictures have included a wide range of themes: comedies (Peaceful Summer, 1961, by Dimitrie Osmanli); thrillers (A Visa to the Evil, 1959); melodramas (Stand up, Delfina, 1977, by Aleksandar Gjurchinov); social plays (Thirst, 1971, by Dimitrie Osmanli); and prison films (Tattooing, 1991, by Stole Popov).
Macedonian directors and animators have achieved significant success in the production of documentaries and animated films. Recent short films include several distinguished creations which can easily considered world treasures. In terms of the eternal nature of the problems treated, films like Border, 1962, by Branko Gapo, Fire, 1974 and Dae, 1979, by Stole Popov (winner of a Grand-Prix in Oberhausen and an Oscar nomination), A Cudgel, 1973, by Laki Chemchev, The Sixth Player, 1976, by Kocho Nedkov, The Twelve from Papradnik, 1965, by Dimitrie Osmanli, Golgotha, 1979, by Meto Petrovski, Tulgesh, 1977, by Kole Manev, Liquidator, 1983, by Trajche Popov, meet to a considerable extent the production paradoxes which usually follow the unimpeded development of the documentary film.
This vital current was supplemented by the movement which was promoted, in the early 1970s by a group of animators who, after the expansive presentations at the Yugoslav and International film festivals, found themselves on the defense. Their response, the works created by Darko Markovich (Stop, 1976, A Hand, 1980), Petar Gligorovski (Adam, 5 to 12, 1977, Phoenix, 1976) and Boro Pejchinov (Resistance, 1978), will most likely remain as lasting guarantees of the potential abilities of Macedonian animators to find appropriate creative expression for their affinities. This dimension of creation can extend to a considerable extent to the remaining part of the feature and documentary production of the Macedonian film.

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