From oral to written transmission, chants from the Adriatic

The dalmatica, a medieval garment used by both men and women, is mostly known as a liturgical vestment, typical for the Byzantine clergy. As a symbolic link between the Byzantine and Roman liturgical traditions, as a bridge between men’s and women’s clothing, it served as an inspiration for the creation of this project in which the four female singers of Dialogos are joined by six traditional cantors from Croatia to explore the Dalmatian liturgical musical traditions since the Middle Ages.

Excerpts of Dalmatica concert in September 2016 in the Calvi cathedral during the Rencontres de Chants Polyphoniques.

The two distinct groups of singers in this programme chose rare pieces, following the main liturgical celebrations from Christmas to Easter, to represent traditions of this country which enjoyed a very special “double status” in the Roman church, since medieval Croatian priests were allowed to celebrate the liturgy in the church Slavonic language in regions where it was already customary. In that way, the Dalmatian coast of Croatia and the  islands lived in a double, bilingual liturgical tradition: Latin and Glagolitic. Glagolitic chant was mostly orally transmitted during the last ten centuries as a distinctive feature of Roman Catholic liturgical chant in Croatia. It is still preserved in some coastal, insular and hinterland communities of Croatia, where it is regularly performed through the entire liturgical year, reaching its culmination in the Christmas and Lenten seasons, particularly during Holy Week. Liturgical books which survive from medieval Croatia also bear witness to this double tradition: next to the calligraphy of manuscripts written in Beneventan notation which came from Southern Italy, we find other sources in Glagolitic script used in Croatia.

The Dialogos vocalists perform some rare gems conserved in Latin manuscripts, some of them coming from the female monastic world, while the Glagolitic chants originating from the coastal, insular and hinterland regions of Croatia are sung by the the vocal ensemble Kantaduri, creating together a rich sound fresco.


Voices: Clara Coutouly, Els Janssens, Katarina Livljanić, Aurore Tillac
Direction: Katarina Livljanić


Voices: Stjepan Franetović, Srecko Damjanović, Josko Ćaleta, Nikola Damjanović, Milivoj Rilov, Marko Rogošić
Direction: Joško Ćaleta

Semi-staging and Dialogos costumes: Sanda Herzic