Monday 12 April 2010

My history with opera

It starts with my father a record collection. Vinyl, of course. And then there was the music on the radio. Only one radio station at that time, NRK radio P1. And then TV, Sunday matinee, often opera. There I was, glued to the TV. Surprisingly it was the dresses first. But then music came. Opera, Operetta and even Musicals became my Love.

The opera stars of my childhood came first from the radio with Enrico Caruso, Gigli (my fathers favorite), Maria Callas. Then it was Montserrat Caballe, Mirella Freni and Katia Ricciarelli. Teresa Berganza was one of my favorites. I was not such a tenor fan in the beginning it was more a soprano-mania. I also believe Funicula was from the opera Rigoletto by Verdi. I guess La donna e mobile & Funiculi, Funicula sounded alike, they were both sung by Caruso, so it had to be opera. I was wondering if Mirella Freni or Katia Ricciarelli was my favorite Italian soprano.

In 1981 came the chance to go to Norwegian National Opera to see an opera live. It was an operetta that came first. Die Csardafürstin by Emmerich Kalman. I loved operetta a lot then. A holiday in Sweden in 1982, and my first opera was Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss with our Norwegian mezzo Edith Thallaug as Octavian. Edith Thallaug has a sister who is actor and singer (more jazz than opera, but also some operetta). In 1983 I saw Die Zauberflöte by Mozart in Oslo with Irma Urrila as Pamina. She sang that role in Ingmar Bergman's cinema version of the opera. And a strange show called Animalen did I also see in Oslo. It was opera and musical and something else with a lot of great opera singers in various role. Famous in Norway, anyway.

In 1983/1984 I could see Madama Butterfly by Puccini in our small cinema/theatre in Kongsvinger, my home town. Karlstad, our friend-city in Sweden brought it to us. Anne Bolstad, Norwegian soprano sang Butterfly. It was great but people laughed in wrong places.

I was in the old theatre in Drammen before it tragicly burnt down and saw Die Lustige Witwe by Lehar in 1984. I loved it. My parents worried about our car was safe. La Traviata and Aida in Oslo. Aida was too modern so my mother did not like it. I loved it, it was still AIDA for me.

My first Carmen (1985) was the so-called Guerilla-Carmen where Carmen was more like the guerilla in Southern America. Anne Gjevang was great as Carmen. Holiday in Vienna, Austria with two operettas, Wiener Blut and Fledermaus by Johann Strauss. It was my first time inside the Wiener Staatsoper. Fledermaus was by Volksoper, but Volksoper was now in Staatsoper for the summer.

No opera in 1986. That is how I know that must be the year I spent so much time in hospital being both bored and homesick. I even fantasized of running off, up all those hills and home. I was in no condition of doing so. I experienced things in 1986: being a corridor patient, a bathroom patient, a TV room patient, waiting for Xrays, having to drink yucky stuff and things before xrays. A fun life in every way.

In 1987 I start again with operas live...

For more reviews from my travels, see

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