It was at the beginning of the 50s, when there were many theatrical and musical events springing up all over Europe, that the Dubrovnik Summer Festival was founded. However, the idea of harmonizing the renaissance and baroque atmosphere of Dubrovnik and the living spirit of drama and music, actually derived from the intellectual way of life of the city itself, from its living creative tradition, which has bestowed upon Croatian cultural and scholarly history, especially in theatre and literature, many great names and works, and kept it continually in touch with contemporary currents in western Europe.
The works of Marin Drzic, Nikola Naljeskovic, Ivan Gundulic and Ivo Vojnovic were to become a mainstay of the drama programme, then, while with the understanding of the idea of the importance of ambience, which is the principal distinguishing feature of the Dubrovnik SummerFestival, the specific theatrical values of the wider Croatian dramatic heritage gradually became revealed, as did the adaptability of the classics of European dramatic art to the squares, palaces, towers and parks of Dubrovnik. Above all Shakespeare, but also Goldoni, the Greek tragedians, Molière, Corneille and Goethe became yardsticks of the traditionalist nature of the festival. As early as 1952 director Marko Fotez, the prime mover behind the group of enthusiasts who started up the Festival, put on Hamlet at the Lovrjenac Fort, which soon became an ideal setting for this drama known throughout the world. Equally attractive were the performances of Goldoni’s Fishermens Quarrels in the old city harbour, renaissance comedies and mystery plays taking place in the city squares (called after Gundulic, Bunic and Drzic), Goethe’s Iphigenia, staged in Gradac Park by Croatias greatest director Branko Gavella, and Vojnovic’s The Trilogy of Dubrovnik, an emblematic work about the fall of the Dubrovnik Republic, staged in the authentic rooms of the Rectors Palace, Sponza Palace and Gruz summer residence.