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Kristina Tolok | 07.09.2016

From Białystok with love

Twenty years since the original Narodny Albom was performed in Minsk, famous Belarusian artists took to the stage at the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic in Białystok to put a modern twist on their 1990s classics. The first concert was a major success and recordings of the album remain popular, even among young Belarusians. Tickets to the event were sold out long before the date. Outside the modern opera on 4 September, one could see a great deal of traditional Belarusian clothing, white-red-white flags and key figures of another Belarus, a Belarus without Lukashenko.

The audience was warmly welcomed to the 20th anniversary of Narodny Albom in the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic in Białystok, Poland. (Photo: Kristina Tolok)
Agnieszka Romaszewska, Director of Belsat TV station and the main organiser of the concert, gave her introductory speech in both Polish and Belarusian. After all, the show was staged in Poland and mainly financed by the Polish Ministry of Culture. (Photo: Hubert Gregorski)
With its heart in the right place: Set in the 1920s and 30s in a divided Belarus, the stage shows a Polish west and a Soviet east. Here we find ourselves at the border next to a local tavern. (Photo: Kristina Tolok)
The lights come on and we get our first glimpse of the main protagonists: a soldier and a Jewish man, the regular and noble people of their time. (Photo: Hubert Gregorski)
The artists sing and twice even rap in Belarusian, Russian, Polish and Yiddish, to represent the multilingual society of prewar Belarus. (Photo: Kristina Tolok)
Musician Aliaksandr Pamidorau played the Jewish tavern owner, easily recognisable with his black and white kipa. (Photo: Hubert Gregorski)
Lavon Volsky (center), unofficially blacklisted in Belarus, was the target of many autograph hunters. (Photo: Hubert Gregorski)
It is ironic, historically speaking, that the Red Army soldiers who invaded the space between the audience and stage were played by Polish actors. (Photo: Hubert Gregorski)
At the end of the show singer Zmicier Vaitsyushkevich, like most of the protagonists, changed in to traditional Belarusian dress: vyshevanka. (Photo: Hubert Gregorski)
Almost 20 years in the making, the second edition of Narodny Albom was officially over. Will it take another 20 years until the third? (Photo: Kristina Tolok)
At the end there were standing ovations and tears in the eyes of the audience and on stage. (Photo: Kristina Tolok)
Only the bright green and red chairs remained in the opera house after a number of encores. While the audience felt like they attended a Belarusian folk festival, they found themselves in Białystok and not Minsk. (Photo: Kristina Tolok)


Kristina Tolok studies East European Studies in Munich.