For the seventh year in a row, Korkyra Baroque Festival sees the performance of a very special type of Moreška: the one with the music of a baroque ensemble!
Although not exactly historically aligned (moreška is considered to be mostly a thing of the Renaissance, and actually predates baroque period), Korkyra Baroque Festival and the people around it came up with the idea to perform moreška to the music of a baroque ensemble.
In all other instances, moreška is performed to the music composed by a Croatian composer Krsto Odak in 1937 and performed by the moreška musicians. This musical interpretation of moreška, in the baroque style, was composed by Ivan Josip Skender, who also directs the Croatian Baroque Ensemble for the moreška performance. There are two troupes that perform moreška in Korčula, but for this Baroque performance, it was performed by the Moreška company)
Before the opening of the festival Korčula mayor Andrija Fabris, festival’s art director Laura Vadjon and the person who inspired the inception of the festival and has supported it from the beginning, Michael Unsworth have said a few words to the audience, which included the Minister of culture of Croatia, Nina Obuljen Koržinek.
And then the performance began.
As you might know, the idea is that two armies, the Whites and the Blacks (the Whites are wearing bright-red uniforms; I would also *love* to know how and why that happened), lead by two kings, are fighting over a girl. The Black king, Moro, managed to steal the White king’s (Osman) fiancee Bula.
Then the 12-strong White army appears, with the intent to win the girl back, but the Black king is not giving her up without a fight.
So, a fight ensues.
It’s a wonderfully choreographed, meticulously rehearsed and very lively and vibrant dance by amateur performers (it’s a matter of great honor to be in moreška for any person born on Korčula), where there’s a lot of wielding of swords, hitting them to produce sparks, swords break, fall to the ground mid-dance-battle, the tension rises, there are injuries…
(In the photo just above, please observe the blood on the hankerchief hung by the black soldier’s belt)
In the end, of course, the good guys win, Bula is returned to her true love, the White king Osman, the Black king surrenders his army to the victor and all is well.
The performers themselves, by the time the 40-something minute long dance is over, mostly all belong to the Red-faced army, as their costumes are quite heavy, they jump and dance more than anyone should during the summer heat!