One more peformance of Cunning Little Vixen to go, and what an extraordinary experience it has been. It´s hard to describe this beautiful moving show, and the privilege of watching every performance. Each night, something new and vivid shines out of the score and the stage: the tiny inflection of a body, a strand of oboe line from the orchestra, or –in last night´s final scene – such a blaze of sound from bass-baritone Iain Paterson, that it seemed that a great gleaming moon flooded the stage. Tomorrow we have Nicholas Payne from Opera Europa in the audience – a chance to show powerfully what this little company with big aspirations can do.
But this morning, we move on. Lithuanian Oskaras Korsunovas, his assistant Jurganita and his scenographer are here to talk about Beethoven´s Fidelio for later this year. I´m struck by how lucky we are to have such enormously different personalities working with us. Vixen has been an emotional roller-coaster. Directed by husband and wife, team Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak, moods and decisions have swerved in every direction. Our costume department, penned into their tiny space by felt, chiffon, chicken costumes, a bear´s head, fox tails, scarlet lycra rabbit suits, have worked through the night, as Inbal, ever the perfectionist, fretted about textures and the flow of a sleeve. On stage, our Fox, Ann-Christine Larsson, nagged gently to remind Avshalom that she still hadn´t had direction about her exit through a trap-door. A crowd of technicians are listening intently to Avshalom describe some aspect of the animation. I´m wondering whether another chat about cultural differences is required, whether it´s possible for Israeli artists who spend a great deal of time in Japan and frustrated by our working patterns can in such a short time cross the bridge into the reserved, non-expresssive Nordic landscape that we inhabit. But despite all the fast-changing ideas, the dance and singing inter-weaving with such subtle detail and the technical complexities of a lake on stage (plus fish), pop-up doors and stairs that slither in to walls, the show seems utterly seamless, punctuated only by the surge and folk-rhythmn stutter of Janacek´s music.
Meanwhile, Oskaras sits in our office, a passionate, inward, intellectual Baltic theatrical star, revered by his young audience. (Two weeks ago, I moved house. One of the movers, a boy of about 25 from Vilnius, carried boxes and with tears in his eyes, told me how Oskaras´s productions have changed his life.) Now the BNO staff sit, tired but absorbed. There are long silences, then longer intense sentences. Oskaras is talking about captivity, not just in terms of Beethoven´s opera – Florestan has been inprisonned for political idealism – but how, throughout the world, our independence is threatened. We look at Ginteras, the designer´s drawings, which look like great pictorial elaborations of the composer´s score, columns like bar lines, note clusters, a sense of hammered cadences. Jurgita, ever calm, translates while the room fills with Lithuanian discourse, strange sounds like a jumble of Latin and song.
Then, we are on the telephone to Pernille Elimar, Danish, and director of Alt om min Familie, which premieres in September. It´s complicated, involving high level solo singers, young emerging artists, teenagers and children. Being a new work, we don´t yet have a score, and the plan is to develop the piece through workshops, with a concentrated rehearsal period leading to the first night. Pernille is ill. We have to cancel much need meetings, which will have to move to April, when everyone is travelling. What was a tenor role has now been re-conceived as a baritone, and the tenor´s management are not amused. Pernille is hugely energetic, noisy, full of enthusiasm, and has already worked hard with young librettist Astrid Niebuhr, whose story about how the most perfect of families may not be quite what they seem forms the basis of the opera. This one is definately Nordic. Sondre Lerche is to contribute some songs, Atle Halstensen is developing the score. The orchestration is…. well, undecided. But tomorrow it´s back to Janacek, to Moravia, and to the forest.
Next week, its off to the airport, to Brussels and Amsterdam. More cultural experiences – more chance to revel in the remarkable diversity of our working world.
14th March, 2013