On Monday night, we went to the Opera House for a cocktail reception and operatic concert hosted by Sigal, Albania’s largest insurance company, in honor of its 10-year anniversary. The guest list included diplomats and business leaders; in fact, we got the Ambassador’s tickets, and so were seated in the “executive loggia”, which I have to assume was where Enver Hoxha and his ministers sat during Communist times. This was not a little strange.
For the first half hour after we were seated, we were treated to speeches and videos celebrating Sigal’s history and accomplishments. Certainly, they had the right to feel proud, but after about 15 minutes it began to feel overdone; fortunately, the presenter put away the microphone, the orchestra began to play, and then the singer took the stage. The program included Mozart, Puccini, and other works not listed in the program, but that was alright – the performance was very good – but half an hour into the music, the concert halted for another half hour of speeches and videos celebrating Sigal’s history and accomplishments. We then had 15 more minutes of music and it was over. (There might have been encores, but we were fed up at that point.) For those of you keeping score, that’s 1 hour of speeches, 45 minutes of music. As Abby put it, “Why blow all the goodwill that you created in offering the concert by wasting everyone’s night with speeches?”