Memorial concert in Bratislava
There was a memorial concert in Bratislava on November 14, 2021, in the Lutheran church of her birthplace Rača.
The memorial concert was beautiful and uplifting. The small church was full, this means maybe 200-300 people. I recognized 3 international fans behind the masks, the audience must have consisted mostly of locals. It is known that Edita kept contact with the people of Rača, at least with her classmates. I remember an occasion when she was happily chatting with Račans after a concert (or perhaps a public rehearsal) in the old opera house in Bratislava.
Among the artists, Pavol Breslik and Peter Valentovič were frequent collaborators at Gruberova performances, while Martina Masaryková was one of the most talented participants in her 2019 masterclass in Bad Häring. (Ms. Masaryková was already an accomplished singer when she took the masterclass, but let's not forget that Edita herself also practised lifelong learning: she learned a new singing technique when she was 60.)
The composition of the instrumental ensemble was a bit unusual but the instrumentation was innovative and stylish, played by renowned, quality artists:
Lucia Harvanová (violin)
Peter Valentovič (piano)
Jan Pospíšil (cello)
Miriam Rodriguez Brüllová (guitar)
Martina Masaryková (soprano)
Eva Hornyáková (soprano)
Pavol Breslik (tenor)
Pavol Remenár (baritone)
Tchaikovsky: Sentimental Waltz (instrumental)
Mozart: Laudate dominum (Hornyáková)
Gluck: Che farò senza Euridice (Remenár)
Schubert: Ave Maria (Breslik)
Massenet: Meditation from Thaïs (instrumental)
Schubert: An die Musik (Remenár)
Alabieff: Nightingale (in Russian) (Masaryková)
Piazzolla: Tanti anni prima (instrumental)
Bellini: Casta diva (Hornyáková)
Donizetti: O luce di quest' anima (Masaryková)
Donizetti: Una furtiva lagrima (Breslik)
Dvořák: Když mne stará matka (Hornyáková)
Improvisation on a theme by Rachmaninoff (instrumental)
Verdi: Parigi, o cara (Breslik, Masaryková)
Dolina, dolina (all)
A narration in Slovak gave an overview of Edita Gruberova's career, in two parts.
I do not want to review the individual numbers of the concert one by one. They were organic parts of the ritual of paying our respects to Edita.
Thus the concert was more than the sum of its parts.
I believe that "Che farò senza Euridice" was a particularly good choice, as it expresses the tremendous sadness we feel over the loss of someone we loved so dearly. In relation to this, a personal memory has come up: in 2018, when the good friend of Edita, Mr. Zoltán Sánta, suddenly passed away in Hungary, she called me on the phone as she wanted to express her condolences to Mr. Sánta's life partner and needed the phone number. On that occasion, we talked a little, mostly in Hungarian (I appreciated that she took the effort to talk to me in that language which she otherwise did not use too much), and, among other things, she said that when someone dies the hard part always falls on those who are left behind. Neither of us had any inkling of what would happen 3 years later.
One may debate whether it is appropriate to sing arias and songs that She used to sing.
That angelic voice is no more, and we will probably never hear the likes of it again.
Any attempt to imitate Her would be a failed attempt.
However, at the concert I did not sense that any singer tried to imitate Her mechanically. They were singing with their own vocal means, in their own style.
Nevertheless, Ms. Masaryková, a true coloratura soprano, provided some "gruberovaesque" moments in her numbers. Hear her in the Nightingale and in the cavatina from Linda di Chamounix
During the concert, a ladybird suddenly appeared on my programme sheet. Perhaps it was sent by Edita... Then it disappeared.
Particularly moving was the last number, where all performers joined in: Edita's favorite folk song which she used to perform often: "Dolina, dolina". Here is a clip of this last number.
After it ended, someone cried out from the back. The cry sounded like "Edita, Edita!". After the concert I got acquainted with the Slovak gentleman who had shouted, and he said he had actually cried "Evviva Edita!". He first saw Edita live in 1969, in "My Fair Lady" in Banská Bystrica... An ardent fan, he often travelled to Vienna for her.
After the concert Pavol Breslik said to me that he was sure that Edita had somehow seen the concert...
The announcement at the entrance
A glimpse at the audience
The cover of the programme
The programme and the ladybird
Pavol Breslik sings Ave Maria
Martina Masaryková sings Solovei (Nightingale)
Pavol Breslik and Martina Masaryková sing "Parigi o cara" from La Traviata
Dolina, Dolina (Pavol Breslik, Eva Hornyáková, Martina Masaryková)
Another, larger photo gallery
Another, detailed account of the concert, in Slovak
As most fans could not attend the memorial concert, I suggested to light a candle in Edita's memory when the concert took place. Here is a picture I received from fellow fan Conny Holmgren:
(Page last updated: 17-Nov-2021)
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