Sunday, May 31, 2009

Those Wild and Wacky Slovenes

In Bratislava, the opera was showing Haydn's "L'isola deshabitata", one of this rare Esterhazy period operas. I wish I had been able to see it.

I didn't realize that the Slovenians were so musical until I sat on a five-judge panel listening to choirs from all these Eastern European countries (plus China). Slovenian choirs ran off with best of show both in the kiddie and the grownup categories and it was entirely unanimous. The Slovakians, the host country, didn't do quite as well.

The only thing that worried me a bit was when I invited one of their choirs to Thailand, they said, "Isn't it violent there?" The PR people of our government still have their work cut out for them it seems.

So now here am I in Olomouc. having departed Slovakia and slept through the change to another country (my hosts said to me, "Do not worry, there is no border.") Unlike in Bratislava, I encountered no communist-era architectural monstrosities on entering the city (in Bratislava these Stalinist blocks of concrete have been repainted in bright colors hide their origins).

My hosts' hospitality is almost mythlike. Yesterday I was taken out to two successive dinners in two countries, each one huger than the last (the mini-portion suggested by the restaurant turned out to be twice as vast as I expected!) and saw the central square of Olomouc in the middle of the night. I was even shown the prison, which I have to walk past on my way to the opera house from the hotel.

I guess I know what will happen to me if I fail. I can't imagine that Czech prisons would serve dinner twice a day....

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