Oh, my God! I don’t think I’ve ever wasted 190 zlots per ticket on anything quite this bad. If we’d paid 30 zlots a ticket and the concert had been in some dingy back-street venue, I might be able to connect the dots but at that price and in the Sala Kongresowa it just doesn’t make any sense at all.
The show starts with members of the band (orchestra?) walking up to the stage and telling their part of a story. They do this in a language I’m not familiar with, possibly Romanian or Serbian and the Polish text is shown on a projection screen above the stage. The story itself seems to involve a great deal of X-rated text somehow revolving around Karmen and for some reason, Ceauşescu, who comes in for a fair amount of f’ing and blinding. It was at this point that we realised how lucky we were that Zosia was firstly not able to read the text and secondly not paying enough attention to hear the few words that sounded slightly Polish, the most frequent one being k*rwa.
It was roughly 3/4 of the way through this diatribe that the ‘napisy’ operator gave up completely, as did half of the audience. The napisy-boy was just winding the text up and down in the hope of eventually finding something that looked about right. The audience started heckling Bregović along the lines of “Shut the hell up and get on with the gypsy music!”. He explained in English that “This is theatre!” and appeared to be considering packing up and going home. Fair play to him, he stuck with it and we eventually got past the acid monologues and to the musical part. Phew!
The musical part was much better but still didn’t seem to hang together in quite the way I expected. The band consisted of Goran on what looked like a mix between a snare drum and a tambourine, a guy on a big drum, two trumpet players, a couple of bigger blowy things, a giant blowy thing and a sax. There were three ladies singing and dancing. It looked as if a bunch of people just got up on stage and started working out how to do this opera. The whole evening looked more like a rehearsal than a polished performance. The napisy-boy had by now taken to drink and the text was all over the place. The only hope he had was if there was a repeated simple phrase, something like “Ho, ho ho!” that would allow him to find the right point. He went off to the bar for refills at one point and left us with a screen showing quite simply – “F*ck the violins!” – for at least 15 minutes! Amidst all this chaos there was some good music and singing but nowhere near enough to make the whole evening worthwhile. The only moment that I thought I vaguely knew what was going on was when there was a sort of “battle of the trumpets” with one playing refrains from the original opera score and the other attacking with gypsy tunes.
I imagine if he’s got the whole ‘Wedding and Funeral’ orchestra together and they are playing something more focused and simple, like good old gypsy music, then it could be a very enjoyable evening, but this was not like that. Not one little bit.
Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of audience approval of all this nonsense. Throughout the performance there were ripples of excitement and applause at the strangest of times and at the end some people actually demanded more. One can only assume Goran had coaches organised to bring his relatives and groupies to the show.
If you’re a masochist you can buy the album.