Friday, 31 December 2010

A Happy New Year from the opera - 30.12.2010

Almost New Year's Eve in the Opera. Tosca is one of my favorite operas, and Maria Guleghina is one of my favorite opera singers. I sat in 3rd Balcony almost in the middle. I could see the whole stage all the time.

Paul Curran had the Regie for this Tosca. It was a traditional production with much attention to the details. Puccini's music had already decided much of the timing and the action. Naturally it is hard to get all the details right in every performance. But for the first time I noticed that Puccini had put Angelotti's heavy breathing when he finally was in the church and could relax, when he composed it. It is unfortunately that many directors seem to overlook these clues in the music when they make their "regie". What we now often call Regie-Theater is neither Regie nor Theater, it is a director creating his own play while ignoring most of what would make the opera or theater a living breathing truth appearing before our eyes. So this Tosca production proves that a tradional setting of an opera, where one put it in context and in its own time need not be Old and Boring.

Attention to detail made Tosca real and interesting. From the beginning when Angelotti came in exhausted and till Tosca leapt to her death it was all believable and interesting. And the music was excellent, singers, orchestra was all together to make it opera-magic. Not one person on stage was un-real. But only in the movies could you make sure that everything would happen on the right Puccini note. This was real theater, no editing of false moves was possible. I think it must be absolutely impossible in a theater to close the door at the precise time at the cantata in act 2. Impossible! But it was so close that I would say that the impossible was achieved.

It is seldom one really feel that Cavaradossi and the Sagrestano is really preparing the colors when Cavaradossi sings "Recondita armonia" but of course here one knows it. Miroslav Dvorsky was a Cavaradossi who was really a painter, a revolutionary, a lover of Tosca, a smart man. The interaction of Cavaradossi with Angelotti was also interesting with Angelotti recognizing Cavaradossi and hugs him, but the painter does not recognized him and rejects him to the floor. So real... But then Cavaradossi understands that it is Angelotti who has escaped prison and promise to help him even it can mean his death, which in the end it does.

Mario Cavaradossi still has his head with him even if Angelotti looses his wits and his bags of women's cloths. He picks the bag up but misses the fan. Again something we seldom see so clearly as in this production. Tosca comes. Maria Guleghina is Tosca and one does fall for her spell. Paul Curran had made his choices in how to portray the relation of Cavaradossi and Tosca. I might disagree about making Tosca a little too fickle but when it works and really has foundation in the opera, then it can be true, too. This production is the first production I have seen where Tosca not only comes with flowers but also lays jewels at the Madonna. Attention to details is everywhere in this production. How happy I am to see a Tosca performance where the timing of when Tosca notices la Marchesa Attavanti is the Maddalena that Cavaradossi is painting, is correct.
It was a lovely love duet between Miroslav Dvorsky and Maria Guleghina.

The situation that Angelotti is in, is grave. It is serious business, and when Tosca has left and Angelotti and Cavaradossi meets again, Cavaradossi is taking care of things not like it is only theater but as a life and death situation. They leave. The Sagrestano comes in with a lot of people. And there is a Baccano in chiesa. As a lively scene play out with children, priests, nuns, men and women, the stage is prepared for the Te Deum with women taking the paper bits that Tosca teared up the Cavaradossi drawing of Attavanti, and priests takes away the painter's things. Everything that happens on the stage seem natural and organic... Then Scarpia and his minions appears. It is true as the opera says that this Scapia is feared by Rome's inhabitants. Even the children knows that this is a dangerous man. His minions is also recognized as unfriendly and to be feared. They are all relieved to be allowed to go. But the poor Sagrestano must stay. When Scarpia seem to forget him for a moment, he tries to escape, but the Scarpia's minion's punished the Sagrestano with violence in a corner of the church. Scarpia care not for him. Then Tosca comes in looking for Cavaradossi and the Sagrestano mocks her and is seized by Scarpia's men and pulled away. Scarpia stalks her, pretending to want to offer her Holy Water. Scarpia had planned this since he understood that Cavaradossi, Tosca's lover, was involved in the Angelotti affair. Tosca's jealousy was roused by Attavanti's fan that Scarpia supposedly found with the painter's things. When Tosca leaves Scarpia arrange for 3 spies and one vehicle to follow Tosca. The Te Deum is in progress, an impressive affair. This Scarpia leaves then by almost crashing the whole procession.

Act 2. The best Vissi d'arte ever.

Act 3. A wonderful E lucevan le stelle and a perfect Love Duet by Miroslav Dvorsky and Maria Guleghina.

What can I say? It was perfect.

For more reviews from my travels, see

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A Happy Birthday in the opera with Maria Guleghina

My Christmas Holiday started with a 7 hours long ride by bus to Oslo. Unfortunately the bus was overheating and I was stuck near the oven. It was too hot to sleep and I could not move because the bus was full. When I finally was in Oslo I was so eager to get out that I promptly forgot my mobile phone. It was near-disaster but luckily the bus was still at the terminal so I got my phone back and could take next bus home to my parents. When I texted my mother to say that she did not need to meet me, I would take a taxi from the train station because the wheels of my luggage did not work, she mis understood it. My mother thought that I needed to take taxi all the way home from Oslo. It was my fault, my text message was confusing, and the wheels was just frozen so after the ride from Oslo and home they worked. Still, I did have too much luggage and it was good to just sit in a taxi and relax instead of struggeling with all my bags and luggage.

I was finally home. It was Wednesday before Christmas. Everything should be tip top. 7 hours near the hot oven in a crowded bus and my eczema flaired up. It was everywhere. Later I got pain where my eczema had been. Worst was the pain in my hands and shoulders. It began to be doubtful if I would go to Oslo to see Maria Guleghina as Tosca in Oslo for my Birthday.

So Little Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day could have been better. With good food and iPad everything feels brighter. 2nd Christmas Day it was hardly better. But finally on Monday the 27th I felt normal. Hope for my Birthday shone. And then finally it was the 28th and I was back in Oslo. So many people everywhere...

I had thought to shop something but I decided to go straight to the opera. This time it was not too cold in Oslo. Both Greer Grimsley (Scarpia) and Miroslav Dvorsky (Cavaradossi) seemed to have been affected by the weather but Maria Guleghina (Tosca) was as her usual self. I was sitting on 3rd balcony on the right side. I could see more of the stage than on December 19 when I sat on Parkett right. From the beginning I could hear that Miroslav Dvorsky was not in his best form but that did but that did not hinder him from singing a fine Recondita armonia and an exceptional E lucevan le stelle. Only in the last duet it happened he lost his voice painfully. Luckily at his side a great collegue, Maria Guleghina who grasped his hands and comforted the tenor with her presence and her big voice and as a miracle the tenor found his voice back and that made the last duet even more moving. Tenor and soprano make it part of the opera. It was a happy opera night for Maria Guleghina who sang one of he finest Vissi d'arte. Maria Guleghina's interpretation of Tosca is always something to admire. She put her heart and soul into every part she sings. At this moment it is her Tosca and her Abigaille that I most admire.

After the opera I found the stage entrance and I went in to wait for my idol. I was alone, people left the opera house and there she was, the Diva with her beautiful assistant. Maria Guleghina and I are friends on Facebook but I never thought the Diva would look at me and say "it is your birthday, isn't it?". And then she sang me Happy Birthday in a natural, un-operatic way. And her assistant took a photo of me with Maria on my Birthday. O lucky day!

If I did not have to change my stoma in the interval of act 2+3 and again when I was home before midnight everything would have been perfect. But who cares, I met Maria, and she knows me, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Hurrah for me and la Guleghina!!
For more reviews from my travels, see

Monday, 20 December 2010

December 19, 2010: First Tosca with Guleghina in Oslo

2010-12-19 Tosca (G. Puccini), Den Norske Opera & Ballett

Floria Tosca = Maria Guleghina
Mario Cavaradossi = Miroslav Dvorsky
Scarpia = Greer Grimsley
Sakristanen = Ketil Hugaas
Angelotti = Yngve André Søberg
Sciarrone = Andreas Franzén
Spoletta = David Fielder
Fangevokter = Øystein Skre
Gjetergutt = Henrik Enger Holm
Dommer = Steinar Zahl
Roberti = Øivind Solberg

John Helmer Fiore, conductor

Music Giacomo Puccini
Libretto: Giuseppe Giacosa og Luici Illica
Conductor: John Helmer Fiore
Regie: Paul Curran
Scenography / costumes: Kevin Knight
Light design: David Jacques

Cooperation with Canadian Opera Company.

This production premiered by Canadian Opera Company 26. January 2008, Norwegian National Opera 26. August 2010.

On December 19th, 2010 it was matinee at 1500. It was Maria Guleghina first time as Tosca at Norwegian National Opera, Oslo. It was the fourth time for me since I have earlier seen her as Tosca at Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Opernhaus Zurich.

I loved the production by regisseur Paul Curran. It was as historical as an opera can be. I sat on right so I could not seen the whole stage but that did not prevent me from enjoying this Tosca. Paul Curran used minor characters and statists to liven up things but never at the expense of the opera.

Maria Guleghina was the perfect Tosca even though she sometimes sang too quietly but I always felt she did it to be true to the person she acted. Miroslav Dvorsky sang and acted a fine Cavaradossi. It was sad that the conductor only stopped the music for applause for the aria in the first act and not for the 3rd act bacause his E lucevan le stelle was really great where Recondita armornia he was more like he was still warming up a bit. The audience really yearned to applaud so it applauded Maria Guleghina and Miroslav Dvorsky in the middle of their 3rd act duet.

The applause for Recondita armonia seemed to be an automatic response to the conductor pausing the orchestra. The act 1 duet applause came more from the heart of the audience. But the applause after Vissi d'arte had the feeling of the audience going wild for Maria Guleghina, and the applause after the opera was "endless".

Greer Grimsley was Baron Scarpia. Just perfect. Maybe too perfect. Or maybe I have seen too many Tosca performance. The chorus, orchestra, statists and the other singers were also wonderful. Paul Curran must be so proud. Maria Guleghina clearly loved the production and Paul Curran.

What else happened on this weekend (Saturday 18th December and Sunday 19th)
I finally bought an IPAD (64GB with Wifi and 3G) on Sunday the 19th because of Christmas the shops in Oslo City was open and I bought it approx 1945. The shops closed at 2000. Other than that my ostomy pouch and associates gave me much trouble even as I was on my own doorstep. I was worried that I would not have enough equipment for the Christmas but luckily it came today. I had thought to stay at a hotel but I went to my parent's for a short night's stay. It was cold in Oslo and windy too. The snow was no longer snow but some bad brown stuff. Yuck. I am so glad to be back where the snow is white even if it is slippery some places. Soon Christmas holiday for me. I will be off from work from December 22nd till January 2nd. I am just so lucky.....

For more reviews from my travels, see

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Advent December 8: Guilt or action?

This reminds me of President Obama's The Audacity of Hope. I never liked that title. It was too passive. Hope is not an action-word. Hope is more a feeling than an action, just like guilt is a feeling. One can feel hope or guilt and as any feeling it can make you act. Action speaks louder than words, thus goes the saying. Action also speaks louder than feelings.

Should we feel guilty? Is there hope to believe in? We should never just passively hope for a better world and not work towards that goal. We should never just feel guilty about the wrongs without act to remedy hurt and injustice.

Never/Always is words that should inspire to action but seldom does. They are just too absolute. We just give up because it is impossible. But then we are just left with our hope or guilt and no action plan. A more human idea is needed.

How can we change the world? We can do it little by little. Sometimes it can come in big jumps. Small steps that works is better than large ones that fail. The world is changing action by action, from one person to the next, one city to another, one country to another, one continent to another.

It is in vain, they say. The expert say that what one person does, does not change anything. They are wrong. In the big picture we all matter. Climate change, whether human-made or not, is going to make our life difficult. Why not believe we can undo some of our damage? Does it hurt us to not make so much waste, and some of it is really dangerous waste? Does it hurt us to make sure than we are not killing more animals, destroying more land than is really necessary?

We can make changes that are not only good for our world but it is good for us. Then there is the small changes we can do when we interact with each other. We can be kinder. We can work to stop hatred. First we battle the hatred in our own hearts. Then we find love for ourselves and the humankind.

For more reviews from my travels, see

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Advent December 2: Privilege

Privilege: Born in a good time in history (1967)
Privilege: Living in Norway
Privilege: My parents had jobs, and we rich enough for holidays etc.
Privilege: Free Health Care
Privilege: Health (20+ years with Crohn's and an ostomy, but I am OK)
Privilege: Education
Privilege: No debt
Privilege: A job that I enjoy
Privilege: White. So I am simply Norwegian.
Privilege: Cisgender. Born a girl, simply becoming a woman.
Privilege: Freedom to travel'
Privilege: Enough money. Even for a rainy day.

And I think I have more privileges that I just cannot remember at the moment.

As a feminist I wish for a better world. It is not just a better world for women. I surprised and depressed that some feminists see feminism is for white cis-gendered women. But Feminism should not only attack Sexism, but also Racism, Poverty, Homophobia, Transphobia, in fact all Discrimination should be attacked by Feminism. My Feminism is about a better world for ALL.

My rights are not RIGHTS if not shared with the rest of the world.

For more reviews from my travels, see