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StoryCorps: A bit of color in the darkest of times

Under CC license from Flickr user mariano medda
A performance of Tosca

Shortly after World War II in Eastern Europe, Slobodan Dan Paich was just a boy, and he says life felt void of color. But he remembers the moment light came back in – it was all thanks to a certain musical tale about a dark-haired beauty named Tosca. 

SLOBODAN DAN PAICH: My name is Slobodan Dan Paich. I'm 65 years of age. I was born in Belgrade, in Yugoslavia, immediately after the World War II. Belgrade was bombed by everyone. Everything was literally grey, from food, to clothes to people. People were so numbed and hard-working. There was very little joy at least in my environment.

But my mother took me to the opera when I was five, and it was Tosca. And we were late. So when we get to the theater, they took us to the top to the theater, because that was where the latecomers go. And they let us in, and I looked down, all the way down and suddenly there was color.

It was the first act of Tosca. And it's in a church and all that baroque settings and I thought, “Oh my god, the real life is there! This is just mistake which needs to be corrected!”

So this impression of the real color and real life kind of stayed with me.

Slobodan Dan Paich spoke to his friend Nirmala Nataraj at the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco. His interview was facilitated by Frank Kingman and produced by Carolina Hidalgo. To be a part of StoryCorps, schedule an interview at their website.

Click the audio player above to listen to the story.