Music and more Music
Now we are on March 22nd, and I have realised my timeline was incorrect yesterday. We booked the theatre tickets on our first night in Split, and the concert was on our first full day, after the bell tower nightmare and meeting Adriana on the Riva. So, it’s still Thursday and, having had a large lunch, we felt no need for dinner. Just as well as the concert started at seven-thirty, a most inconvenient time to be somewhere other than in an eatery.
No complaints from here though. Knowing that we had some time, we stopped for a drink at a place we nicknamed Audrey’s because it had a large photo of, and a large quote, from Audrey Hepburn. Like all the other cafés we used, the staff were young and friendly, spoke very good English, and taught us some Croat words like ‘Živjeli’ for ‘Cheers.’ (One night in unusual circumstances we learned the word for ‘gravedigger’, but I will tell you about that another day.) A glass of wine later and we decided that we would have a drink at the theatre bar before the concert and so set off into a chilly night.
There was no bar at the theatre, at least not one that was open. We arrived at seven-ten and were asked to come back later. Not like a British theatre, I thought, where the audience begins to cluster a good hour before the show to read programmes, have wine, compare outfits and use Edwardian toilet facilities. We dashed back to Audrey’s and gulped another glass, not wanting to be late despite that fact that, apparently, in Croatia, audiences are not expected to be early.
Back at the theatre at seven-twenty-five and, as if by teleportation, the foyer was rammed by audience. I have no idea where they had been hiding only fifteen minutes before. Tickets shown, we found our seats and settled in for a bit of Beethoven. Two bits actually, a concerto for piano, violin and cello in ‘C-duru’, which is either C major or C minor, and the Erotica symphony, number ‘Treca’ (which actually means third) in Eb-duru which I now know means major. Glorious performance by the Orkestar HNK Split – the orchestra of the National Theatre, conducted by Ivo Lipanovic. The interval allowed for a quick visit to a 20th-century toilet facility and a quick gasp of fresh, cold air outside and, after the concert, we returned to the city walls to find ‘Split’s only gay-friendly bar.’ (That’s what the unusual red photo is all about.) This wasn’t busy, but it was interesting with revolutionary murals and writing on the walls of the cavernous rooms in the medieval building and – sorry to mention them again – toilets that were from the same century as the walls; fourteenth, I should say.
There is a follow up to this story, and I’ll now fast forward to the Friday, the next day, and cover that quickly as, let’s face it, life’s too short for other people’s holiday stories. While wandering the town on Friday, having climbed the hill, had lunch at a graphic novel themed restaurant that even had Moaning Myrtle arising from the toilet bowl (clearly, today I am obsessed), and buying a massive and well-filled wrap for lunch (€1.20), we discovered that there was a free concert in the cathedral that night. Bless him, Neil kept a straight but enthusiastic face when I told him it was three Bach violin sonatas played by Orest Shourgot, professor of violin at the School of Music at the Arts Academy of Split.
We went, we listened, we were thrilled, and we forgot to eat dinner first. Afterwards, Neil recognised the man sitting just behind/beside me. He turned out to be the leader of last night’s orchestra. I complimented him on his orchestra and leadership, as you do, and Neil told him to keep up the good work. We shook hands and left him wondering who on earth we were while we went and mistakenly had another drink on an empty stomach, and then bought a bottle of wine for the room from an off-license housed in an old tram. The younger, English speaking staff running it were the cause of the gravedigger story which I will be getting to another day… Meanwhile, bonus photos: