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I.3: Predstavujeme vám - Mám rozprávkový dom (Paul F. Antonoič)

Karel Gott’s visit to Canada this May was his first in over 40 years. The last time he performed here was at the 1967 Montreal EXPO World Fair, when he was accompanied by his Apollo Theatre orchestra.

Many years have passed since then and now at the age of 68, he exhibited a remarkable physical and mental condition. Karel endured the rigorous concert and social schedule with resilience and grace. But where his maturity showed the most, was on stage. During the rehearsals, in unfamiliar concert halls, with technicians, musical and sound equipment that were hired locally, achieving the desired sound quality was challenging in several ways. Being a consummate professional and a perfectionist, he naturally showed great concern about giving his audience the very best. In the end, he did just that and more. From the moment he stepped on the stage, he held the audience in the palm of his hand. He demonstrated that through the years of performing he has become a relaxed, great all around entertainer, using the moves, gestures and humour to round out what turned into an unforgettable concert performance. On this tour he was backed by a six piece band, which included his long-time band leader Pavel Vetrovec, as well as the legendary saxophone and clarinet player Felix Slovacek, who received thunderous applause during his three-song solo performance.

Karel, of course, was the the star of the show and his near sell-out audiences in Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton got what they came to see and hear. Performing in his top vocal form, the great maestro sang a wide range of songs, from his first 1964 number one hit “Oci Ma Snehem Zavate”, through his 1966 Bratislavska Lyra winner “Mam Rozpravkovy Dom”, which the Slovak audience received with a great applause and laughter, as Karel introduced the song in their native language. Many other songs followed as the audience cheered, sang and finally danced. Being aware of the great ethnic diversity of his audience, Karel greeted them in some ten different languages, introduced songs in four languages and sang in seven different languages, the others being English, German, Russian, Italian and Hebrew. He was literally forced off the stage after his sixth encore, by the house lights, which were turned on to signal that the time was up and the concert hall had to be emptied.

Following the Vancouver concert, Karel and the band relaxed in Yaletown’s Plan B Lounge, where he also spent time with several of his fans. Off stage, Karel displayed a great sense of humour and told numerous jokes. During his chance encounter with the Hollywood action movie star Steven Seagal, as he passed through the lobby of Vancouver’s Sutton Place hotel, Karel quipped that the movie star didn’t seem to recognize him.

On the other hand, during one of the city tour’s stops at Stanley Park, he was recognized and approached on two separate occasions by fans; a Czech couple and a woman visiting from Germany, who just could not believe her own eyes. Karel, with his usual accommodating style, engaged her in a few minute conversation in German and several photos followed.

By his own admission, Karel’s visit to Vancouver was inspired by the legendary physical beauty offered by the city and its surroundings and while he arrived in cool, damp weather, the sun showed its own grace by appearing, as if hearing our pleas, on the evening of the concert and allowed the city and its surroundings to show itself and impress in the most spectacular fashion for the next two days. Karel loved Vancouver, as well as Whistler, which he took in on a day trip and enjoyed a bird’s eye view of the area during a sightseeing airplane ride. He said on more than one occasion that he would like to return for an extended visit, so that he can more thoroughly explore the area.

Being an accomplished painter himself, Karel showed particular interest in the work of local native artists. As if by coincidence, during the Gala Reception event, held on Friday night at the Sheraton Waterfront Centre in Vancouver, Karel was presented with a beautiful glass etching of a wolf, created in the native Haida style by an Edmonton born artist David Montpetit.

Karel and the rest of the group commented on several occasions on how well they were received and looked after overall and in every detail. To the last member of the touring group, they were most impressed with the friendliness and hospitality they received at the hands of the organizers, as well as the local folk.

On Saturday afternoon, Karel and the rest of the group boarded the flight that took them to the last stop of the concert tour in Edmonton, where he performed for an enthusiastic audience in Canada’s most modern and acoustically advanced concert hall, the Winspear Centre.

Following the last performance, the group took a three-day tour through the Canadian Rockies, before boarding the return flight home from Calgary.

For many of us, who left our homeland decades ago, this was an unparalleled opportunity to relive and be reminded, if for a few brief hours, of the days of our youth when, like Karel, we were creating our dreams, honing our crafts, not knowing what lay ahead of us, or how much our lives would change between then and now.

For me personally, the encounter with Karel Gott turned out unlike anything I would have ever dreamed of. To have the opportunity to spend several days and form a personal relationship with the icon, years after he became my idol upon hearing his very first hit song, some 45 years ago, was personally rewarding beyond any words that can be spoken, any lines that can be written. It was my utmost pleasure and a matter of personal pride to be a part of the most significant cultural event in Vancouver’s Czecho-Slovak community. I remain forever grateful.

Paul F. Antonic


Ahoj Pavol:-), nejako chtiac - nechtiac som narazil na tvoj príspevok a nemám na teba ani email ani iný "moderný" kontakt, prosím kontaktuj ma na S pozdravom Lukáš Popik (Úbrež, Slovensko)

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