Pandas, politics and performance

Some years back, when Stavanger2008, European Capital of Culture was still glowing from its appraisal as ‘best artistic programme ever’ I gave a speech at one of Edinburgh´s universities, where a bunch of exceedingly sparky students bombarded me with alarmingly smart questions. Some days later, a very fine certificate arrived, a masterpiece of exotic fonts […]

Future sounds from Bergen

Oslo, minus several degrees, the landscape monochrome with luminous streaky skies. Bergen National Opera is in the capital at Operaen with a fine mix of nationalities and three Nordic composers to develop new operas for premiere in March.

Witches and Wonderland

In Os´s spectacular fjord-side culture house, a witch with a long silver tail is dancing with a bloody saw and cackling horribly. Hansel is trapped on top of a hospital trolley and Gretel is hiding behind lurid pink boxes. Welcome to the opera! Bergen National Opera is rehearsing Humperdinck´s wonderful work for all ages, a […]

Händel and Humanity

In Grieghallen´s basement rehearsal room, figures in tattered grey sing Händel as they shuffle towards a table where soup is ladled from a vast battered pot. The scene is bleak. We are in Ireland – or it could be Norway – in some kind of timeless misery with freezing weather and famine, where the country´s distant officials have long ceased to care, and where the church is struggling between old-school hell-fire authority and its need to offer succour.