Valentina likes to say that every day in Saint Petersburg is a holiday; there is always an opportunity to see a free concert, theater performance or lecture. So far, I have attended four such free events and there will be many more to come, especially once I am done with classes. Last night I attended a free concert in the storied Radio House (Дом Радио) with Eino. Valentina could not attend as she had to go to the dacha to stock up on parsley, horseradish and blackberries so she left two tickets for us.
At 5:30, Eino and I departed for the concert. Once again Eino was clad in all black, overcoat unbuttoned so that the flaps of his coat rippled at his side while he parted the crowded streets with his girth. He looked like a Russian mafioso bodygaurd while I looked like a lost fool trotting behind him to keep up. As I jogged to our destination, Eino lectured me on the all the things I still have to do in Saint Petersburg and harrumphed repeatedly at my inability to understand 70% of his suggestions. His attempts to dumb down his language only resulted in further confusion in me and aggravation for him. Luckily, we quickly reached the theater and went inside to wait for the concert to begin. As the theater was quite small (a recording studio for the radio station) and the concert was free, there was a lack of seats for all of the patrons. Eino and I were some of the last people to enter the theater and had to sit in the choir bleachers behind the orchestra. It is a cool seat in theory but given that Eino had just enough room to sit perfectly upright in our row without physically harassing someone it made for a very long two hours. My butt hurt by the end and I even had a little wiggle room to readjust throughout.
The music itself was beautiful. The orchestra had 15 mandolin players, an accordianist, a piano player and two percussionists. Additionally various singers, two opera and one folk, performed at various points in the evening. The concert featured traditional Russian music, both melancholy and humorous. The video below is of the tail end of the last number performed, which was a funny village song about a man in love with two women.
One component of the Russian theater world that I particularly like is the pervasive presence of flowers. Patrons bring flowers to the show and after an enjoyable song they present the flowers to a performer. This results in someone approaching the stage after each song, generally prolonging the concert but also making for a communal feel.