The audience seemed remarkable unengaged, talking continuously and reserved when applause was required from them. Actually, no. They were just mean. Only once the curtain had fallen on the Finale and the end had arrived did the audience get into its stride. A standing ovation, unanimous save for my, by now, Chinese friend, the young couple who had already left to catch their bus home and me.
The lesser singers were rewarded with a tulip. The grander with three tulips. The principals with small bunches of chrysanthemums. The tenor got two, one from the nice administrative lady who had spared me the box. The soprano got two plus single tulips from a number of well wishers who found their way onto stage to give them personally. So much better than the slaughter of flowers that every performance at the Polish National Opera seems to require.
The performance was competent; the simple story telling never compromised. How much I prefer this approach to those of people like Mariusz Trelinski who go to enormous lengths to show how clever they are but always, always at the expense of the storytelling, therefore, the composer. They simply bewilder and mislead the audience.
Lwow is a splendid city, its people smile and still retain a sensitivity and consideration for other people that has almost disappeared in Poland if, indeed, it ever existed. The restaurants are not great but there is a wide range of home grown wines that deserve attention.
If you hanker after the lost world of late Communism, then Lwow is for you. If your soul simply needs recharging with beauty on every street corner, or almost every street corner, then don’t delay. Book a trip to Lwow! You won’t regret it.