Night bus to Oslo. Cheaper than a flight and a hotel stay, that is for sure. I was going to Stockholm but I never thought my bus would be filled with a few Swedish people and at least one with seriously talkity mouth. That person even had to phone someone in the middle of the night. Not enjoying that. The Swedish group left when we came to Oslo Gardermoen Airport. I continued on my journey to Oslo Central Station as I had booked a train ticket. There I found out that my train was almost 2 hours delayed and then I decided to go to Gardermoen to book a flight to Stockholm Arlanda Airport. The delay meant that I could just phone in and get my train tickets deleted and a refund of the money. It is usually easy to get quite cheap tickets to Stockholm Arlanda, almost as cheap as the train.
Arlanda Airport, and then the airport bus to Stockholm Central station and soon I was at my hotel, Rica Stockholm. There I also found a Pizza Hut restaurant on the other side of the street. Luck. Loved the hotel. Loved the opera.
It was Friday January 10th, 2014, it was winterly cold without snow. The snowing started on Sunday. I was going to see a traditional Regie of Andrea Chenier, or so I thought. At first I was disappointed but then I started to understand it. I hated the fakesness of the Contessa and her ilk in act 1. I thought in the beginning it meant that the Regie was wrong-headed and just vulgar. Later I understood it as a critique, and a just one, of the high society. A world where the fake has substitued the real. They might say the word love (Amore) but love is nowhere to be seen in here. They might flirt with sex, to be vogue as they lust, but real, pure love or simple affection that is true and not just affected does not live here.
Carlo Gerard looks at it all, sees the wrongness, and loves the still pure Maddalena. Maddalena di Coigny who is a few years from being corrupted by this society, is still pure at heart. Her play with Bersi, her chamber maid, is still that of a child. Then the entertainment enters. Andrea Chenier is the only one that is not playing a role. Chenier is clad in dark cloths and no whig. No one of the gray hairs on his head can make him old and cynic. Jose Cura's Andrea Chenier is very much young at heart. A dreamer and a poet. He does not belong in the cold and fake world. La Contessa of Marianne Ekløf is angered by his refusal simply to bough and recite a poem on the fly. Maddalena of Maria Jose Siri is taken by the first appearance of Andrea Chenier, so taken is she that she has to make him talk of love. She insults him by saying that they all have spoken of Love, and without his precious Muse. L'Improvviso. Great singing. And very much a tipping point, Maddalena understands something new, feels love. Carlo Gerard opens the door for la Miseria to visit the high society. As Carlo Gerard of Alberto Gazale leaves, the high society will meet death.
Often I get bored with the first act of Andrea Chenier and it is only when Chenier himself arrives that I get into it. In Stockholm there was no hesitation, I went inside the opera and stayed there. Alberto Gazale is the best Carlo Gerard I have ever seen. Maria Jose Siri was just amazing as Maddalena di Coigny. Jose Cura is the best Andrea Chenier today, and in Stockholm he just did one of his fiest intepretation. Marianne Ekløf was La Contessa. She was putting layers to her role, just as she could be totally fake and play with crowd, there was also a deep love for her daughter. Foolish and yet profond.
Act 2 was really great. It was really well thought out. Gazale, Siri and Cura was just astounding. Marianne Ekløf came again, this time as La Vecchia Madelon. Wow, this is how it should be done. I mean WOW!!! Of course, the love duet between Siri and Cura was wonderful!! But really Marianne Ekløf!!!! Viva!!
Interval. The Royal Opera House in Stockholm. It is old, it is lovely, it seem like an intimate venue.
Act 3. Alberto Gazale was looking so well in his red tuxedo. He looked like the handsomest Mefistofele. Carlo Gerard is no longer an innocent servant and he still lusts after Maddalena and now he has power. Maria Jose Siri is a powerhouse as Maddalena di Coigny. She is also an excellent actress. La mamma morta, wonderful, feeling every second of it. Then it is the court scene. Not just four condemned people but four people whose lives are connected now. Andrea Chenier is a source of comfort and strenght for them all. Chenier defense, Si, fui soldato, ended on a high note that I deem did not belong there. And really that it the only minus in the whole evening, that I still haven't accepted.
Act 4. Wonderful act 4. I have never seen any production of Andrea Chenier where the 4 prisoners are interacting. I loved how much love and care that they had towards each other, only when the soldier was not looking. Idia Legray, the young, pregnant woman. When the soldier let her out the door was he really letting her go? Chenier was a source of goodness and comfort. Wonderful love duet!! Of course, Stockholm got one of the best ever Come un bel di di Maggion from Jose Cura, too.
Death cage with the former high socity members to carry them to Death. Viva la morte insieme!
Andrea Chénier - José Cura
Carlo Gérard - Alberto Gazale
Maddalena di Coigny - María José Siri
Bersi, her maid - Susann Végh
The Countess of Coigny - Marianne Eklöf
Madelon - Marianne Eklöf
Roucher - Linus Börjesson
Mathieu, a sans-culotte - Johan Edholm
The Incredible - Magnus Kyhle
The Abbot - Magnus Kyhle
The novelist Pietro Fléville - Kristian Flor
Fouquier Tinville, the Public Prosecutor -
Schmidt - Michael Schmidberger
Dumas - Michael Schmidberger
Master of the Household - Michael Schmidberger
Father of Gerard - Lars Ekholm
Pier Giorgio Morandi, conductor
DIRECTOR Dmitri Bertman
SETS Hartmut Schörghofer
COSTUME Corinna Crome
LIGHTING Hans-Åke Sjöquist
CHOREOGRAPHY Edvald Smirnoff
The Royal Opera Chorus
Chorus master: Folke Alin and Christina Hornell
Royal Opera Orchestra
And so it is over!! Lots of applause, standing ovation!! And then it is time to go! Home, to the hotel! It is cold out there. I just had to go to the stage door just for a few minutes. Then I met two other Cura fan and then we talked and waited. I think Marianne Ekløf just went by me, and she was talking to someone else, she did not look as she did on stage and by the time I possibly recognised her she was gone. I also think I saw and heard Birgitta Svenden, the Swedish mezzo who is the boss of Stockholm Opera, and Helena Døse, the Swedish soprano. They were just so happy, conductor Morandi even sings with the singers and how one needs 3 great singers as we had tonigt to pull of this opera. Personally I hate conductors that sing or hum while conducting, I wanted to hear Siri, Gazale and Cura without Morandi singing beside them!!! But I wholeheartedly agree that the trio of this day was GREAT,
When Maria Jose Siri came out I had the chance to congratulate her on this wonderful Maddalena di Coigny. When Alberto Gazale came out, he was still talking to friends and then he was on the phone so I had no chance to tell him what an extraordinary Carlo Gerard he was. Then, finally Jose Cura. I just asked if I could take his photo and he promptly decided that it should be a selfie, me and Cura. My phone, his finger on the trigger. He left with Alberto Gazale and with Maria Jose Siri, I think. Then finally I could also be on my way to my hotel room, I was freezing.
Saturday January 11, 2014. Train from Stockholm, and then while I was on my way back home, a visit to my dad. Love my father and he still remembers me so all is good. Then dinner in my birth town with an old friend who had known me since I was weeks old. I could have visit my aunt too, but she was not feeling to well. Then off to Oslo and night bus home.
Sunday January 12, 2014. TIRED!!