'Tenor-ist' Attack at the Hungarian Border

2013. május 29. 10:16

The year's most absurdly funny news story took place recently in Sturovo, a small town in south-central Slovakia near the Hungarian border. In fact, this story has been happening every day for ten years now, from dawn until dusk. Torture of the masses by classical music? In the peculiar lands of the Carpathian Basin, anything can happen.

Sturovo (in Hungarian: Párkány) is a sleepy city in south-central Slovakia situated on the shores of the Danube, right at the border with Hungary. In fact, ethnic Hungarians make up most of the inhabitants of Sturovo. It's just a short hop over the bridge from the Hungarian side and the town of Esztergom, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Hungary. Hungarians like to visit Sturovo for its fine restaurants and pubs with a grand selection of tasty Slovakian beer.

But behind the scenes of this laid-back Central European meeting point, a grave conflict divides Sturovo's citizens. Why? A local, elderly lady quite enjoys listening to the arias of the famous Spanish tenor, Placido Domingo. Non-stop. And apparently she enjoys sharing her musical passion, through loudspeakers hanging outside her house. And she has been doing so now for ten years.

The lady, who must be one of Mr. Domingo's biggest fans, listens to his work from early morning into the night. Sadly, though, the quality of the loudspeakers are not the best, and after ten years, even the most beautiful of his arias can grate on the neighborhood's nerves. So the neighbors complained several times to local authorities but in vain. Turns out their local opera aficionado sticks carefully to the rules, listening strictly between the hours of six a.m. and ten p.m. and keeping the volume somewhere within the limits. Strictly speaking, this musical terrorist does not offend public order.

But tell that to the neighbors. Some of them claim they have sleeping disorders. Others have tried desperately to sell their homes because of the music, but potential buyers fled once exposed to the never-ending soundtrack. Fed up, the angry locals organized a protest. In a video posted to the Hungarian tabloid site Velvet.hu, locals vent their frustrations with the house of their local Domingo fan appearing in the background.

Some protesters even suggest that if the lady would at least play some other music, perhaps it would not be so bad. Ján Oravec, the city's mayor, claims the city is helpless. He'd do something if he could but when no law has been broken, he has little opportunity. He adds, though, somewhat mischievously: if it were his own neighbor terrorizing him with music this way, he would have a quick solution. But he didn't tell us what it is.

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