Burns in Bergen

The Immortal Memory “Then, all unknown, I´ll lay me with the inglorious dead Forgot and gone…” So wrote Robert Burns, far from forgotten this January 2016, close to 260 years from his birth. How might he have reacted to us celebrating his life at a Burns Supper? – he´d be – I suspect – bewildered, […]

Prison opera – Trollet på Fantøya

Like many companies, Bergen National Opera has been engaged in “write an opera” projects for a number of years – scores of children have benefited and have produced intriguing, surprising and joyful results. But earlier this year, BNO decided to push things further: what about write-an-opera for adults? So we chose a fairy story – […]

Fabulous Fabio

In the thick of rehearsals for Bellini´s I Capuleti e i Montecchi – a notoriously difficult opera to stage – with complex chorus choreography, exhausted soloists and the alarming possibility of Tebaldo accidently stabbing a stagehand (yes, we have real swords) – a small figure remains serene. Fabio Biondi, conductor, Bellini specialist, baroque and classical […]

Integration, immigration and inter-cultural sensitivity

The European Cultural Parliament met in Batumi, Georgia at the start of the month to discuss European values, Brexit´s effect on culture and intercultural sensitivities. So, tough debates ensued, fierce with passionate statements, raised voices and, in some cases, delivered with heavy hearts. I was asked to talk about the intercultural sensitivity question – so […]

Opera far and wide

Last week’s report from Telemarksforskning emerged as a fierce and thorough piece evaluation of opera funded by Norway’s Culture Ministry, exploring district and regional organisations outside Oslo. Ten companies! – the number in itself is startling and surely confounds the thinking that only the capital cities can be centres of excellence. Norway should be proud […]

Words across the water

Opining has always been Ireland’s national sport. Arriving, it hits you head on, mouthy and contentious. Taxi Driver 1: “I tell yous, this city – bozzing, absolutely bozzing! Will yous look over there – all that building. Magic. This country’s flying!” Taxi Driver 2: “It’s atrocious. Will yous look at the flowers on that lampost. […]

Farewell Pierre Boulez

Many years ago, a somewhat posturing editorial appeared in one of the London papers – `Do we really need Pierre Boulez?´ it asked. The response, one imagines, was supposed to reflect England´s early 90s deep-felt and somewhat fashionable wincing in the face of intellectuals, especially those with the gall to talk unflinchingly about elitism and […]