Punk gypsy opera

The No Smoking Orchestra is back in town.

Famed filmmaker/musician Emil Kusturica is back in Israel with his No Smoking Orchestra for four concerts in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa as a part of a European tour. Based on the scores of Kusturica movies - Time of the Gypsies, Black Cat, White Cat, Arizona Dreams and Underground - the new show, described by its creators as a punk opera, is directed by Kusturica, who also plays bass guitar, while ensemble founder Dr Nele Karajlic appears as lead singer. The orchestra comprises electric guitars, drums, violin, percussion instruments, saxophone, tuba and accordion and mixes traditional Balkan music, jazz, Gypsy and Jewish wedding music. The No Smoking Orchestra was founded by Karajlic in 1980 in the former Yugoslavia. "We were influenced by the Western punk music, and we created music of our own. We were sons of professors and officers, but we left our parents' milieu because we wanted to change the world - or at least Yugoslavia. People like our music because it is open and free," says Karajlic, who goes the distance on stage, singing and dancing his soul out. From the very first sounds, the ensemble ignites the audience and never lets go. Some call it a music circus, and they are probably right. Still, it's an experience not to be missed. Tel Aviv, Mann Auditorium, Monday and Wednesday at 20:30; Haifa's Convention Center, December 21 at 21:00; and Jerusalem's Binyanei Ha'uma, December 22 at 20:30. For reservations: (03) 521-5200 or *6466.