The Music Critic: John Malkovich Performs at Lisinski Hall in Zagreb on December 4

Daniela Rogulj

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Petar Glebov/PIXSELL
Petar Glebov/PIXSELL

Debussy, Brahms, and Schumann are just some of the great names of classical music composers that Hollywood actor John Malkovich openly says are – a handful of misery, reports Vecernji List.

Of course, it is part of a comic performance called ‘The Music Critic,’ which comes to Lisinski Hall in Zagreb on December 4. It combines theater, music, and comedy, mixed into a performance in which the main narrator, Hollywood actor John Malkovich, will enter the role of a sharp music critic and deliver salvos of unpleasant comments about these great composers. The whole concept was designed by Aleksey Igudesman, who will accompany John Malkovich on violin with the ensemble during his performance.

Although John Malkovich is insulting in this work, the original intention is not to resent but to realize that there are people who do not like something that is considered a masterpiece. While working on this project, Igudesman used drastic examples from Nicolas Slonimski’s Lexicon of Musical Insults. Lisinski will resonate with comments such as “unnatural, disgusting music” and the like, and this performance has already succeeded in many other cities, where it received a standing ovation from the audience.

Malkovich claims that the author Igudesman is a very bright guy, but he believes that this work is still in its infancy and that it is better and more interesting with each new performance.

Insults, although packed into a comic performance, are not always met with approval. Thus, Turkish director, critic, and actor Nedim Saban wrote in his critique of the play that it was too late to deport Malkovich from Turkey since he had already packed his suitcases and left. In his criticism, he begged the authorities there never to allow Malkovich to perform with what he called a poor show. Malkovich has no problem with criticism. On the contrary, he argues that critics should do just that – criticize. In his own words, he was trying to get into the role of the strictest critic and merge all the critics into one place in a humorous way. This was not a particular problem for him, given that he also played much more dangerous characters.

It is interesting to point out that Malkovich, a famous actor known for his numerous roles in Hollywood, is, in fact, of Croatian origin. As he says, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro can also fight for him, but he feels like an American. He once visited the village where his grandfather allegedly lived, but he does not feel the nationality of Croatia since he has spent his whole life in America.

Lisinski Hall is grateful to INA for its support as the golden sponsor of this event. This is nothing unusual, considering that INA has proven to be a great friend of culture and cultural development in Croatia since its beginnings. Thus, it supports over 10 important events for local culture, such as Đakovo embroidery, Vinkovci autumn, and many others. 

“INA has continuously provided support to cultural and artistic institutions for years, and we have a special friendship with the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall. ‘The Music Critic’ by John Malkovich is just one in a series of performances that we have supported, contributing to the diversity of the cultural scene in Croatia. By investing in cultural content, we also have a positive impact on the quality of life, and we will continue to do so in the future,” said Tamara Karagity, Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing at INA.

INA proved to be an accessible and socially responsible company during the devastating earthquakes in the most challenging moments for the whole of Croatia, including the cultural sector. At that time, INA donated a little more than 2 million kuna to cultural institutions. The company’s management said they had high awareness and respect for culture and cultural institutions and were particularly affected by the loss of numerous cultural features of the city of Zagreb. Therefore, the donated money was used to renovate the most urgently needed cultural institutions.

In addition to rehabilitating the earthquake-stricken institutions, they helped numerous Croatian theaters, and thanks to their sponsorship, many plays were performed in various Croatian theaters. Their awareness of the importance of culture is apparent if we consider that INA is one of the founders of the Foundation of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. For all previous collaborations, especially at the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall, the directors have only words of praise and more than positive experiences. 

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