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Mani Gotovac

Nov 12, 1939 - Nov 12, 2019(80)

Life is always a premiere

About the exciting life of a great theater actress!

Energetic, eccentric, full of life... That's how relatives described Mani, born Julija Birimuša. Her mother, the famous actress Danira, practically nursed her in the Split National Theater, so it can be said that Mani was born into the theater. She was a theater critic from an early age - she constantly commented on her mother. But her father, a successful lawyer Zdravka, saw a different picture of his daughter's success. He wanted her to inherit his law firm. Stubborn Mani, she really wanted to become an actress. But her decision to choose a profession, like many other decisions throughout her life, was guided by love. Having fallen in love with a young man who enrolled in literature, she also decided to go to Zagreb and study comparative studies at the Faculty of Philosophy.

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Shortly after finishing her studies, she met the composer Peru Gotovac. Two artistic souls connected. At that time, she started writing theater reviews for Studentski list and Polet. She started publishing her criticisms in Telegram and Croatian Weekly. Her life was later disturbed by two accidents. The first was the ban on writing and publishing from 1972 to 1980 due to her participation in the Croatian Spring, and the second was the death of her six-year-old daughter Ana, for whom she mourned inconsolably for the rest of her life.

Divorce from Pera and marriage to Željko Senečić, a painter and scenographer, soon followed. Together they moved into an attic apartment in Medulićeva, which became a small center of intellectual life in Zagreb. According to her daughter, even Kirk Douglas and Bo Derek visited it. There, on a black wooden platform that also served as a home stage, is her writing corner. She typed reviews late into the night, and for writing she always used a black Continental typewriter that also belonged to her mother. After successfully managing &ITD and the theater of Marin Držić, she was chosen as the director of the Croatian National Theater in Split. She was the first woman at the head of a Croatian theater. Until the end of her life, she remembered the eve during which she was told this important news. She was excited, but also nervous. She stood for a long time and stared into space. She thought - what will she do now? She knew that she wanted to make the theater interesting for the audience, but she was ashamed to become the first woman in Croatia to head a theater. She knew that a lot of media criticism of her decisions would come from the mere fact that she is a woman. Her slogan was "Theatre in the city, the city to the theater".

After the successful management of Split, he was also engaged in Rijeka's Zajac. She left it with great media fanfare, after choosing Severina for the role of Baroness Castelli in Krleža's well-known drama Gospoda Glembajevi. She never regretted her decision.

She has devoted the last ten years to writing and publishing, mostly romance novels that the audience enjoyed reading. She had to leave her beloved apartment on the third floor in Medulićeva due to her mobility difficulties. Having moved to a nursing home, she watched the autumn leaves through the window. She believed that even the autumn of a man's life has its own beauties. An artistic soul, she kept both joy and sadness with her. The joy of incredible artistic achievements and the love that was the main motive of her novels, but also of her life. "You can't do it without love!", she said.

She was not lonely. Until her last day, she was surrounded by many friends and family. But she always carried the past with her. The memory of my daughter Ana, who passed away prematurely, of my great loves Peru and Seneca, and of the difficult struggle for validation on the closed and small Croatian scene. For her, creating art has always been about discovering something unknown. A way of finding meaning in a multitude of contradictions and nonsense. She said - if I had become a lawyer, maybe I would have been calm and rich. She was none of those things. But she never lost her curiosity, search, desire and longing. And that's why everyone knows who Mani Gotovac was.

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