Krešimir Dolenčić Reveals Details of Pelješac Bridge Opening Ceremony

Daniela Rogulj

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Screenshot/Morski/Hrvatske ceste (Croatian roads)
Screenshot/Morski/Hrvatske ceste (Croatian roads)

According to the Croatian Government, a use permit for the access roads should be issued on July 18, and one for the Pelješac Bridge has already been issued. Therefore, the bridge opening with part of the access roads is expected on July 26.

Ahead of the Pelješac bridge opening, journalists from Jutarnji List spoke with Krešimir Dolenčić, who is in charge of the opening ceremony. He has been planning the opening ceremony for more than a month. He said he has no time to enjoy himself for now, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t excited.

“The Pelješac bridge is a huge thing. I know that firsthand. I was there when they put it together, and there was spontaneous joy in Dubrovnik. The whole town was partying. Finally, after 304 years, Dubrovnik will be connected with that part of the hinterland. I saw what it means to the inhabitants of that part of Croatia. And that’s why the highlight of the opening ceremony, broadcast live by HTV, will be a beautiful scenography with hundreds of boats surrounding the bridge and truly magnificent fireworks. In addition, there will be a musical program with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra, the Libertas Klapa, and the choir of the HNK Split with Gotovac’s ‘Hymn to Freedom,'” said Dolenčić, who also worked on the opening of the Dubrovnik Bridge, mentioning only some of the numerous contractors.

The preparations, he pointed out, are proceeding exactly as they should.

“Many people from different sides participate, and everyone prepares their part of the task. From Croatian Roads, which are excellently equipped, through protocols, the police, the County, cities… So far, everything is fine,” he confirmed.

He did not want to go into the details of the opening program because he would not want to spoil the surprise for the citizens completely. Still, he announced numerous local performers from Dubrovnik, Korčula, and Neretva and briefly revealed how the opening was conceived.

“The bridge will be partially open to the public during the day. But, of course, with a lot of security and control, only on foot and not along the entire route. Festivities in the cities are also planned; although the bridge was not built for festivities but for vehicles, it is the most demanding part of that day. There will be pyrotechnics, and we expect boats and ships under the bridge,” he said.

Dolenčić is no stranger to designing massive public celebrations. In 2000, this respected theater director staged a massive stadium production of Verdi’s opera ‘Aida’ in Shanghai with 2,300 participants, and three years later, he repeated the feat in Beijing with 3,000 participants.

He cited the space where the event takes place as the biggest challenge of such projects because it is usually not intended for that. It is necessary, he noted, to predict the number of visitors at the event, organize and ensure all logistics (energy, auditoriums, stages, lighting, sound system, security, ambulance, parking, police, media, and a hundred other things). It is demanding, he continued, and there can be a lot of performers. Therefore, rehearsals are also needed that do not take place on the spot but on several sides.

He revealed that such projects as concerts, sports events, and opening and closing ceremonies carry a strong emotional charge.

“It can easily turn and go sideways, so you need to know how to drive it,” he believes.

Do such projects differ from country to country? What are the biggest differences between large projects in Croatia and abroad?

“While some countries bigger than Croatia have companies that deal only with such events, they have employed producers, scenographers, and designers, while others have no experience with this. For example, one hundred seven of us from Zagreb went to Muscat, Oman (for the opening ceremony of the Asian Beach Games); the entire production – video, audio, and author teams, dancers, choreographers, and make-up artists. In China, several companies organize huge events, concerts, fireworks… But, on the other hand, there is no difference. It’s always the same default elements and similar problems, of course, in different formats,” he explained.

During his fruitful career, Krešimir Dolenčić has directed 119 plays and worked on over 150 events.

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