I'd been trying to get a moment to get tickets for the "International Festival" of concert music last week in Tbilisi, but had been exhausted by non-stop training of bank officials and journalists.
So on Monday when one of my local colleagues asked whether I wanted to go to a concert, I said yes, even though he described it as some sort of end of term concert for some students, of which one was a member of his (extended) family.
So I arrived at the Opera with him, his mum and dad to sit in a loge (since I never sit in boxes in theatres in England, I always think of them as loges, or perhaps I should spell it lozhes) overlooking a completely full house, at the final concert of this "International Festival". My colleague was also surprised at such a grand occasion, instead of a school concert. Had he known he would have chickened out, especially as he hates classical music, opera and sitting still for hours.
The music was Mozart and Rossini, but the conductor, orchestra, chorus, and soloists were all Georgian. Does playing Mozart and Rossini make it international? Maybe I missed something.
The students survived the ordeal and gave quite presentable performances. My colleague's brother in law did the bass solo and we all applauded him. His five year old daughter enjoyed getting dressed up in her beautiful new dress and practising her two words of English.
I asked about the conductor, (for once not a family relative) Vakhtang Kakhidze, as he had his own rather striking way of conducting. One of the soloists had to back off rather as one of his stabbing gestures to the first violin nearly stabbed her. Even more remarkable was his coat. It was too long to be a jacket and certainly no tail coat. In fact it was a mixture of an academic gown, but fastened at the front, and an artist's smock, with special shoulder pleats to allow for violent shoulder and arm movements I suppose. It looked like it had had rather a lot of wear. On the opera website here his photo shows him younger and less grey, a bit like his coat must have been originally.
It seems he is very famous. For me it was his coat not the music that made him famous.