Opera "Time of the Gypsies"

opera_tdg.jpg Punk opera - Created in Paris - Opéra Bastille, 26 june 2007.

Text by Nenad Jankovic based on an original script by Gordan Mihić and Emir Kusturica
In gypsy language

Director : Emir Kusturica
Music : Dejan Sparavalo, Nenad Jankovic, Stribor and Emir Kusturica
Musical direction : Dejan Sparavalo
Sets : Peter Pabst and Ivana Protić
Clothes : Nesa Lipanović
Lights : Michel Amathieu

The No Smoking Orchestra and The Garbage Serbian Philarmonia

Coproduction by palass and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía, Valencia




CountryFormat audio languages subtitle languages Buy online Description
France DVD Z2 PAL rrom 5.1 frenchAmazon.frMore details

Official site

An official website has been launched for the “orthodox” tour, scheduled in 2010 & 2011, in Serbia, Greece and Russia : domzavesanje.com ; in Serbian and English.


The official trailer of the show :


Emir Kusturica has declared in April 2007 on Serbian TV : ”The main theme of the opera will be Ederlezi. It's a story about youth, entering in the real world, and we used this theme as it's the most relevant Gipsy song, and we made of it a kind of purification and cathartic journey trough life”.

The two young singers Stevan Andjelković and Milica Todorović have been chosen thanks to a popular Serbian TV show, searching for new stars. They didn't win, but they were among the favourite.

Stevan told in the Serbian newspapers : “I was the last one in the casting. There were Nele, Dejan and Stribor, and they asked me to sing something. I did it, and they gave me the lyrics in Italian and in Rrom. I did it too, and Nele asked me “OK ! you must cancel all your plans for the next 5 months”. I knew I was chosen for the character of Perhan !”

Gorica Petrović, who will play Perhan's grandmother, is Nesa Petrović's wife, the saxophone player of the No Smoking Orchestra.

We can see extracts of the show that revealed Stevan Andjelković on Youtube :


Belgrade, Serbia Starting 5 november 2010

Le Palais de Congrès, Paris, France
10 shows between 23 and 30 March 2008
Bookings : palaisdescongres-paris.com

Opéra Bastille, Paris, France
Première 26 June 2007 19h30
Shows : 29, 30 (14h30/20h) June, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 (14h30), 9, 11, 12, 14 (14h30/20h), 15 (14h30) July 2007 19h30


Press review

(click on article title to display/hide)

  • Article published in New York Times, on 28 June 2007, by Alan Riding
Opera With Attitude, Guitars, and a Dose of Mayhem

  • Article published by Bloomberg, 28 june 2007, by Jorg von Uthmann
Kusturica's `Time of the Gypsies' Gets Opera Staging in Paris

  • Article published in Spanish newspaper El Mundo, 28 june 2007 (in Spanish)
Kusturica estrena su 'ópera punk' en París


Rehearsals for the opera took place in Küstendorf.

18 april 2007

Today, the band took some rest, crossed the border to Višegrad, in Bosnia, where is the famous … Bridge on the Drina.

23 april 2007

Rehearsals continue in the new sport hall “Prokleta avlija” (Damned yard, name of an Ivo Andrić novel) that Emir Kusturica has recently built in Küstendorf.

10 may 2007

The band tried for the first time the costumes for the opera. The costumer, Nebojsa Lipanović, was very satisfied with the work …

30 may 2007

Tonight, at 6.50 pm, I have rendez-vous at the artists entrance of the opéra Bastille in Paris with Marie-Eve Signeyrolle, directing assistant of the opera. To let me in, she gives me a badge named “Dunja Kusturica”. OK, I don't know if I have the right profile, but anyway, it allows me in. After having followed a number of corridors, we arrive on a huge set, real size replica of the stage. Even if the volume is impressive, the mess is also impressive. There are music instruments everywhere ! Little by little, people arrive.
Michel Amathieu is already there, headphones on the ears, listening to the songs on his Blackberry. A musician repeats on the piano, when Ivica plays his guitar.
We bring a dog. From now on, nothing can surprise me anymore… We bring him a bucket of water. I hear next to me : ”He bit his master, yesterday - A dog never bites his master ! - He's not a dog, He's an actor ! He plays in the opera…
In the background of the stage, a rope is hung between two sticks. A ball, and a football match is being improvised between actors and musicians. ”The traditional football match…” says Marie-Eve to me. ”Everyday, they start with a little football match to warm up.” The crew gets larger, and everyone comes kicking the ball. A bass joins the piano, and Emir shoots penalties. There are many people now. Suddenly, upon an invisible sign, everyone goes at his place, we fix the microphones, we stop speaking.
Emir Kusturica seats in front of the stage and gives the start for the rehearsal of the day. Music… A bath tub hung by 4 actors and followed by a brass band, brings Perhan smoking the cigare, and distributing banknotes… No doubt, I'm at the good rehearsal ! ”Stop ! Stop ! Stop !…” It's not good… But what is wrong ? Impossible to understand. All the indications are given in Serbian. French technicians and assistants just can guess. We start again, we observe what changed. Ah yes, it was that. We redo the scene, again, again, again, and we go on… Dr. Nele Karajlić doesn't stop walking between Emir and the actors. Dejan Sparavalo makes jokes. Emir also, with his ”Hey ! This is not my job !…”, with a strange voice, to make fun of Neša, his favourite costume designer…
Pause : drink-cigarette-sandwich. The football match can start again… We discuss sets, lights, casting. We repeat a song, we turn the mobile phones on, we adjust the microphones.
Before starting again, Michel Amathieu wants to fix the problem of the video incrustations. He shall have to film Perhan to insert him within the images of the film… OK, but in this image, he has a turkey in his arms. Well, we'll have to hire a turkey. But where can we find turkeys in Paris ? In which shop ? Where is the nearest farm ?…
We play the following scene. Emir goes next to Perhan, mimes his attitude to show what he expects, comes back, gives the go, and the music starts. We're truly on the set of a Kusturica movie… But where are the cameras ???
Next to me, I hear : ”Which scene are they doing now ? Did you follow ? - This one”, says Azra indicating a spare sheet. ”Ah, I don't have it in my file. It must be a new scene he has just added…”. We talk, we negociate. Emir shouts : ”this is not my job !” Everybody laughs… Stribor leaves his drum seat to walk a little bit, Dejan is tired. Čeda drinks a litre of water. OK, we do it again. ”Tomorrow, I want the scene with the taxi…” asks Emir to the set designer. It won't be easy. The sets aren't finished. Well, OK, we'll try.
It's almost 10pm. I didn't see the time passing, but everybody seems to be tired. There's still much to do, but what a nice adventure !…

15 june 2007

Once again, I have rendez-vous to see the rehearsals. This time, it's supposed to be for the first complete rehearsal, with accessories and costumes, on the main stage…

Marie-Eve lets me in and says : ”well, we're a little bit late, we won't make a full rehearsal, we still have to work on the scenes in Milan…”. Everything all right : we're only 9 days from the first day. But yet, rehearsal still occurs on the main stage, as planned… In the labyrinth of corridors, I meet a pope, a bride, a dwarf dressed in mafioso suit, a jungler… Everybody comments each other's dresses. I go through the backstages - rather warehouses - and then suddenly, I fell in front of a giant turkey ! So I'm on the right way… Unless I'm already in Perhan's dream ?

So I seat in the huge room when the actors and musicians take place. No football match tonight, apparently, the stress level has increased. When everyone seems to be ready, some microphones problems prevent to start. Emir gets nervous. Time's flying, each minute is now crucial : from now on, the rehearsals take place from 9 am to 11 pm, seven days a week !

Emir Kusturica, sitting in the dark of the empty room communicates with a microphone and his loud voice gets out of the speakers. From the stage, nobody can see him, but everybody hears him ! Each time, it's a little bit like if God was speaking… Marie-Eve runs everywhere on the stage, speaks and translates to the actors. She gives the top to the orchestra leader : ”Maestro, musique molim !”. And the magic starts…

Nelle comes in his caravane, Dejan crosses the stage in segway, policemen on rollers runs in all directions… The Opéra Bastille seems to be too little to hold the crazyness of the mise en scène !

en/opera_time_of_the_gypsies.txt · Last modified: 2011/10/02 17:31 by matthieu1