Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not a Pavarotti

Tonight the EU celebrated the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, a momentous piece of international legislation that laid the foundation for what is now the European Union.

In Tbilisi the EU celebrated it with a gala concert in the Opera House - for which I had managed to wrangle myself an invitation, though apparently I could also have bought a ticket on the free market. But then I would have missed the reception....

The concert was one of popular operatic arias, preceded by the EU anthem (a bit of Beethoven's 9th) and the Georgian anthem. Unfortunately, these were not mentioned in the programme, but I'd seen it somewhere else. So I knew to stand up, and to remain standing for the second piece - most people did not, and there was a moment of Mexican wave between the two anthems, as people were bobbing up and down.

Then the singing started, entirely popular arias and choruses from operas, all of which were 19th century. Some were better than others - a duet from Don Pasquale by Donizetti, sung by Gocha Datasuni-Jighauri and Zaal Khelaia was brilliant, really funny and also very difficult (a touch of the Rossini - a zillion syllables to the second). Others suffered, in particular an extremely stiff Carmen (perhaps because her dress was breathtakingly tight), and a similarly stiff aria from La Traviata by a man who shall also remain nameless - but it sounded like he sang it for the first time, trying to get the notes right. The singer who did 'Nessun Dorma' got more applause and requests for an encore for this than I thought he deserved, but to be fair, his performance had improved considerably as the evening wore on.

This was followed by a reception where the plates and glasses ran out very quickly - but also where a bunch of the singers got themselves together and sang Georgian songs. The at least 6 members of our singing group at the reception pricked up their ears and listened attentively!