20 November 2012

A selection of songs and operatic arias at the Slovak Embassy

Two things that feature here regularly are things Czech/Slovak and opera so I was bound to go to an event that combined the two.

The event was a recital by Peter Berger (tenor) and Lada Valesova (piano), and the location was the Slovak Embassy in London. And that's a winning combination.

I've commented before on the suitability of the Embassy for social events and this was another good example. The room is large, high and open but, somehow, it does not echo at all, which may be down to the design of the wooden ceiling.

The other guests were somewhat timid and avoided the front row so I bagged a set there where I could see the keyboards being tinkled. I was just a couple of seats away from the Ambassador so I was in good company.

There were a few familiar Czech/Slovak faces there too and I was able to say a few hellos before the concert started.

The recital was mostly powerful operatic aria, both happy and sad, with some piano pieces to let the tenor rest and a Slovak folk song as an encore.

Lada introduced each piece, telling us much about the story of the opera as she did so. From this we learnt that (at least) two of the men died shortly after singing the songs we heard.

For the record, we had excerpts from the popular operas Eugene Onegin, Bartered Bride, L'Elisir d'Amore, Tosca and La Traviata, plus a couple of unusual pieces.

The two piano pieces were the first performances by Lada of works she has selected for a soon to be released CD featuring Czech and Russian composers.

It was a very lovely recital and was warmly appreciated by the packed room and we were rewarded for our loud clapping with two encores.

There was, of course, an interval and the Embassy treated us to a range of drinks including some sparking wine. That was my choice.

There was a second hit at the bar after the concert which was also an opportunity to mingle more and to snatch a few words with Lada and Peter.

It is always nice to get to meet the artists after an event like this as a personal "thank you" says so much more than even the most enthusiastic clapping can. Of course it is also nice to be able to put a question or too though the difficulty there is to avoid the obvious that everybody else asks.

The only negative was that the drink was not accompanied by any food, other than a few small plates of snacks like crisps and Cheesy Wotsits. And this was only a negative when judged by the usual high standard of catering at events at the Embassy. It was my fault for relying on this for my evening meal having rushed back from Cardiff to attend the concert.

In summary, this was delightful evening filled with beautiful music delivered in an intimate setting and shared with friends. And this is why I love being on the Slovak Embassy's mailing list.

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