The History of Dora - Croatia's Eurovision National Final
With the snippets of the songs from this year’s Croatian national final being released this coming weekend, and with the contest being held the weekend after, we thought we’d take a look back at the history of Dora: Croatia’s Eurovision national final.
In 1992, the former editor of the HRT entertainment programming, Ksenija Urličić, designed a singing competition by the name of Crovizija. Crovizija was seen as a localized version of the Yugoslavian national final Jugovizija, which the broadcaster has been an active participant in for more than three decades prior to the nation’s declaration of independence in 1991.
Crovizija was broadcast for the first time in 1992. The group Magazin won with their song ‘Hallelujah’. However, Croatian public broadcaster HRT was not able to become a member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in time, and ‘Hallelujah’ never made it to the Eurovision stage.
In 1993, following HRT’s acceptance into the EBU, they hosted their first official national final, now using the temporary title of the Croatian Television Festival. Hosted from the Crystal Ballroom in Opatija, eleven regional juries gave out a set of 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10 and 12 points to their seven favourite performances. Fifteen songs competed in the two and a half hour national final, which was eventually won by Put with ‘Don’t Ever Cry’.
Even after competing in the country’s first official national final, the group Put still wasn’t technically guaranteed a place on the Eurovision stage in Millstreet. In the EBU’s first attempt to allow as many countries as possible to compete in a quickly overcrowding contest, a qualification round called Kvalifikacija za Millstreet (Qualification for Millstreet) was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which Croatia, along with six other countries, would need to compete in.
Luckily for Put, they made it into the top three in the Slovenian semifinal, and made it to the Eurovision stage in Millstreet, where they came fifteenth.
Throughout the 1990’s, the Croatian national final proved itself to be a successful preselection round. The show, which continued with the temporary title of the Croatian Television Festival before being renamed Dora in 1995 after early twentieth century Croatian composer Dora Pejačević, continuously had upwards of twenty competing entries, and the winners of the national final did well enough in Eurovision each year that HRT never had to worry about the relegation system.
Dora’s success from the 1990’s saw it featuring more performances than Eurovision with shows lasting longer than its counterpart on multiple occasions. In 2003, it also saw the show move from a single competition to having three live shows held on consecutive nights – two semifinals and a grand final.
In 2005, the show was expanded yet again to include a somewhat complicated and unnecessary quarterfinal round that saw the number of entries reduced from twenty to eighteen to then compete in the semifinals. Dora 2006 saw a return to the original semifinal system.
In 2008, Dora changed its format again. The three live shows were reduced to two, seeing ten prequalified songs automatically in the final, with a semifinal held to determine the remaining six places. This format continued for three years.
Dora 2011 saw the biggest shakeup to the competition to date. Renamed Dora 2011 – Let’s go to Eurovision, the competition consisted of seven shows (four heats, a quarterfinal, a semifinal and a grand final) hosted from Studio 10 in Zagreb instead of the usual Opatija due to financial difficulties at HRT caused by the ongoing European debt crisis. The finale saw two artists (Jacques Houdek and Daria Kinzer) each singing the same three songs. Daria was chosen to compete with the song ‘Lahor’.
Falling interest in Dora and an ongoing economic crisis around Europe led to the cancellation of Dora 2012, as HRT announced that they would be moving to an internal selection process. Although the name Dora 2012 was given to the show where Nina Badrić performed ‘Nebo’, the show was not actually a singing contest.
It was another seven years before Dora returned to HRT, being held in Opatija in 2019. The show returned to its original roots from the 1990’s – a single show with regional jurors, but now also including a televote. The show’s return was the twentieth time the national final had been held, and was won by Roko Blažević with ‘The Dream’.
Dora 2020 followed in the footsteps of Dora 2019 with a single show, which was won by Damir Kedžo with ‘Divlji vjetre’. Dora 2021 will also consist of a single show, and will be hosted on HRT on February 13 (February 14 AEDT).