Earlier this week we did a run-out concert of opera arias in Banja Luka, the capital of the Republika Srpska (Republic of Serbs), a political region of Bosnia-Herzegovina. (I explain it a bit more in this post.)
Banja Luke is a very small but pretty city. We stayed in Hotel Talija, a beautiful modern hotel a very short distance to the national theater. It's about a 5 hour drive from Sarajevo, so the orchestra took one bus and another double-decker bus transported the singers and opera chorus. We arrived around 3pm, and had some time for lunch and coffee before a 6pm soundcheck.
The Pozorište in Banja Luka is pretty small, even our little theater in Sarajevo is at least twice as big!
We performed an arias concert with the singers and chorus from the Narodno Pozorište, and my favorite soprano Aida performed the Queen of the Night aria from Die Zauberflöte! She struggled a bit with some of the more acrobatic fireworks, but her clarity of tone and stage presence are just unmatched by anyone else in the company.
There's a plethora of popcorn stands in Banja Luka for some reason, and the chili popcorn at one stand in particular is incredibly delicious. Last time we were in Banja Luka Ivana and I visited this stand at least 3 times to eat this popcorn. Yum!
Obviously we needed to take advantage of not having to pay for cabs back to Otes if we stayed out, so we went to the Mac Tire pub next to our hotel and I enjoyed some blackberry Somersby.
Rebecca and I woke up early to visit the Kastel, unfortunately a lot of the area was under construction so access was limited. The project scope looked big though, and from what I remember seeing last time it's a good thing they're repairing the Kastel and its accompanying facilities. The EU is sponsoring two years worth of work, so hopefully in 2015 I can find some pictures of the improved buildings.
Here's some more pictures of Banja Luka, check out my photo set on Flickr!