Monday, January 21, 2013

Phillip's Phantastic Phindings: Bratislava, Slovakia!

Written on 20 Jan. 2013

Ahoj everyone from Bratislava, the capitol of Slovakia! (That's Slovak for Hello!)

We have all had an amazing time in the quiet and quaint little capitol city of Slovakia, taking in all the sights (and snow) that it has to offer. It is our last day here on our weekend stop before we head upstream the Danube River to Prague in the Czech Republic... I wish we had a little time to explore this hidden gem of Central Europe, for I have enjoyed my time here immensely.

Not long after arrival on Friday, we journeyed to the recently-renovated Reduta Hall to hear a
great concert put on by the Slovak Philharmonic. In this beautiful, intimate hall, we heard a diversity of great reportoire: a heart-touching and emotional commeration to the earthquake victims of Japan in Saegusa's Requiem for Earthquake Disaster, a classic Mozart violin concerto (No. 5 in A) played by a decent soloist, and a bewildering, dramatic roller-coaster ride onboard Berlioz's quintessional Romantic Symphonie fantasique. Although this orchestra wasn't quite up to Vienna Philharmonic standards, it was still quite an enjoyable concert nonetheless... made even more memorable by the Japanese conductor and his deeply-inspired, dramatic conducting (never seen anything quite like it- it was neat to watch).

Last night, our group made a snow-filled trek over to the Slovak National Theatre to see a unique performance. Eugen Suchon's Krutnava ("The Whirlpool") was a Slovak-language opera with German subtitles (go figure), making the dialogue a bit hard to follow. However, the story of this small-town "love and murder" tale was surprisingly easy to follow, due to the engaging on-stage action that kept me hooked. The music was also a central factor in my enjoyment of this production: the vocalists were quite capable, and the orchestration was certainly unique and modern, but actually worked with the action quite well. I came into the theatre thinking that this opera would be a little strange and eccentric, however, this certainly was not the case... the citizens of Slovakia should be proud of this great performance.

Anyway, got to go... heading off to Prague in the morning (on a long, 5-hour bus ride- woo hoo!). As the Slovaks say, "Dovidenia!" (Goodbye for now!)

- Phillip

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