Chanteuse wishes to share ‘unforgettable’ musical experience in local salute to Hungarian stars
A trip back home to Budapest, Hungary gave chanteuse Annamaria Eisler the inspiration to throw a party in Canada.
The Mt. Pleasant and St. Clair resident, who goes by the stage name Masi, crossed paths with Hungarian pianist and composer Szakcsi Lakatos Bela while they were both performing with Rajko, a 50-piece Hungarian orchestra.
“I was performing in the same concert with him. It was unforgettable,” she says, her accent flowing from her lips like her blonde tresses from under her hat. “Musically, it’s one of the top experiences I’ve ever had.”
The duo recorded three songs — Gloomy Sunday, Les Feuilles Mortes and Once Upon A Summer Time — that were posted in August on YouTube, and now Eisler is hoping to bring Bela to Toronto for a “once-in-alifetime moment.”
“There is a big Hungarian community in Toronto and I decided I have to give this gift to them,” she said about Hungarians in Hollywood, a show she had planned for May 18 at the Isabel Bader Theatre before she got the call that Szakcsi would not be able to make it, due to health issues.
A new date has not yet been arranged.
Eisler was hoping to channel her Hungarian roots in a celebration of legendary silver screen stars like Tony Curtis, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Cukor and Michael Curtiz.
“The music, it touches everybody’s heart and I thought that I would like to make this concert as a celebration to have a world-famous Hungarian pianist in Toronto,” she says. “There is a nostalgic feeling to this because I am celebrating the iconic Hungarians in Hollywood.”
Music from movies like My Fair Lady, directed by Cukor, and White Christmas, directed by Curtiz, are significant to Eisler.
She came to Canada in the 1970s after learning piano at the Bela Bartok Conservatory in Budapest. She continued her studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music, earning her ARCT — the highest test for pianists — all while doing promotional modelling for Oil of Olay, Ballantine Scotch and Pledge.
She pauses for a moment to enunciate her words, and then smiles.
“It is funny,” she says, a timid expression on her face. “Michael Curtiz had a life-long struggle with the English language, and I have something in common with him, it seems.”
Still there’s longing for her life by the Danube River, and she shares how she came to take the stage name Masi.
Before she was born, friends of her parents suggested after having two boys — Eisler’s two brothers Andrew and John (Andras and Janos in Hungarian) — they should have a daughter.
“A little girl who wears a ribbon in her hair,” Eisler affirms. “In Hungarian, ribbon means masni, and then my mother became pregnant, and of course in those days they did not know if it was a boy or a girl.
“They were saying to my brothers, hopefully you’re going to have a little sister who is going to wear masni. My two brothers were very small and they could not pronounce the masni so they said, ‘Masi’ pointing at my mother’s stomach at the time where I was hiding.”
Thus Masi was born, but she’s coy on giving any information on what year she entered the world.
“European women always avoid numbers like that,” she says, with a broad smile.
Masi had no word to share on when circumstances might allow her to make good on her “gift” to Toronto.