Diva!

Russian soprano Hibla Gerzmava’s recital last night at Koerner Hall felt like stepping into something of a time warp.  The diva sweeps on stage in a ginormous cape (all that was missing was Bach’s Toccata and Fugue).  The first half of the programme is Russian art song (Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov) but there are no surtitles or translations or words of introduction which is a bit hard on non Russian speakers.  There’s tumultuous applause after every damn song (and sometimes in the middle); accepted with gracious condescension and grand gestures.  On the odd occasion the pianist is invited to accept applause she demurely takes three steps backward lest she should be seen to share the limelight.  It’s all a bit like watching Lady Catherine de Bourgh accompanied by her talented but penniless niece.  I have no idea whether this is the “real” Hibla Gerzmava or some sort of act that she or her promoters think the Russian diaspora expects but it felt very weird.

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