November 29 –January 17

Peer Gynt

What does it mean to be Norwegian in 2014?

Intro

«Who are you?» That is the question Peer Gynt asks the Bøyg, the Mountain King and the Sphinx, receiving only the answer, «Myself». But who is that, and who is Peer Gynt? What does it mean to be Norwegian in 2014, 200 years after we gained our first written constitution? What or where is the core, the seed? Is there one at all?

Few works have so embodied what it means to be Norwegian as Ibsen's Peer Gynt. Not only is it a key work in the Norwegian literary canon, it is also one of Ibsen's most frequently performed plays on the international theatrical scene. Grieg's setting of Ibsen's text is still Norway's best known dramatic music. But what does this legacy mean for us today?

Estonian composer Jüri Reinvere explores this question in a completely new Peer Gynt. This is not an operatic version of Ibsen's dramatic verse play, but a new interpretation, with Reinvere providing both the music and libretto. In his Peer Gynt, Ibsen's characters have different encounters and travel to new places. The famous verse play meets elements from other Ibsen pieces – as well as lines from the Edda and Shakespeare's Hamlet

This work is a commentary on the position of the Peer Gynt phenomenon as a national and international Norwegian symbol. It is the story of the search for an identity that constantly escapes us. Our past and our memories, on the other hand, we carry with us whether we want to or not. The story of the evasive Peer Gynt shows that we have to face them in order to better understand ourselves. With Reinvere's work, staged by young Norwegian director Sigrid Strøm Reibo, we confront the Peer Gynt legacy in Norway today.

Premiere discussion one week before the premiere / Fiore Lecture Show / free introduction one hour before the performance

    Roles

    Main roles

    • Peer Gynt

      Nils Harald Sødal
      Playing the following days
      • 11/29/2014
      • 12/1/2014
      • 12/11/2014
      • 12/14/2014
      • 12/30/2014
      • 1/11/2015
      • 1/15/2015
      • 1/17/2015
    • Unge Solveig

      Marita Sølberg
      Playing the following days
      • 11/29/2014
      • 12/1/2014
      • 12/11/2014
      • 12/14/2014
      • 12/30/2014
      • 1/11/2015
      • 1/15/2015
      • 1/17/2015
    • Mor Åse/Gamle Solveig

      Ingebjørg Kosmo
      Playing the following days
      • 11/29/2014
      • 12/1/2014
      • 12/11/2014
      • 12/14/2014
      • 12/30/2014
      • 1/11/2015
      • 1/15/2015
      • 1/17/2015
    • Ingrid/Den grønnkledde/Anitra

      Kari Ulfsnes Kleiven
      Playing the following days
      • 11/29/2014
      • 12/1/2014
      • 12/11/2014
      • 12/14/2014
      • 12/30/2014
      • 1/11/2015
      • 1/15/2015
      • 1/17/2015
    • Smed/Herr Trumpetstråle/Huhu

      Thor Inge Falch
      Playing the following days
      • 11/29/2014
      • 12/1/2014
      • 12/11/2014
      • 12/14/2014
      • 12/30/2014
      • 1/11/2015
      • 1/15/2015
      • 1/17/2015
    • Prest/Slakter/Hussein

      Johannes Weisser
      Playing the following days
      • 11/29/2014
      • 12/1/2014
      • 12/11/2014
      • 12/14/2014
      • 12/30/2014
      • 1/11/2015
      • 1/15/2015
      • 1/17/2015
    • Dovregubben/Eberkopf/Begriffenfeldt/Kirkegårdsvakt

      Ketil Hugaas
      Playing the following days
      • 11/29/2014
      • 12/1/2014
      • 12/11/2014
      • 12/14/2014
      • 12/30/2014
      • 1/11/2015
      • 1/15/2015
      • 1/17/2015

    Trailers

    Har du lyst til å oppleve en helt ny Peer Gynt? Her er noe av hva du kan få se!
    Se smakebitene fra den splitter nye operaen Peer Gynt
    Slik blir de fantastiske fjell-landskapene til på Operaens malersal!
    Premieresamtale Peer Gynt

    Synopsis

    1. act

    Scene 1: The wedding

    Peer Gynt arrives uninvited at the wedding of Ingrid and Mads Moen. His mother, Åse, accompanies him, and wants them to leave as soon as possible. Peer wants to find out whether Ingrid still has feelings for him, but when she tells him that she is still bleeding after undergoing an abortion, Peer loses interest. Solveig arrives with her sister and their father. Peer and Solveig seem to hit it off, and Solveig tells him about herself. The conversation is interrupted by Solveig's father, who has found out that she is chatting with Peer Gynt; the troublemaker. Afterwards, Peer tries to pick up where they left off, but Solveig is reluctant. Some girls start flirting with Peer, and upset by Solveig’s rejection, he demonstratively joins their game. But the girls bully and humiliate Peer in front of the entire wedding party. To take his revenge, Peer runs away from the wedding with the bride, a willing Ingrid.

    Scene 2: The Enchanted Forest

    Ingrid and Peer are in the forest. Peer wants Ingrid there and then, but she would rather they return and prepare for marriage. Peer has no plans to be tied down and pushes her away. In the meantime strange beings have started to gather around them. Only Peer can see them, and Ingrid runs away, disappointed. The beings come closer and closer, it rains nightingales and suddenly the Green-Clad Woman is facing Peer. When he asks her who she is, she responds: "I’m your wife". The Green-Clad Woman and her fairies tease and play with Peer. Suddenly the Green-Clad Woman is pregnant with Peer's child. While the flirt of the fairies with Peer becomes more and more aggressive, the Green-Clad Woman goes into the forest to give birth. Peer attempts to escape, but is prevented by the Old Man of Dovre, who arrives with Peer's new-born baby in his arms.


    Peer tries to understand what is happening to him, saying that life is too short to be tied down, and that everyone has a skeleton or two in the closet. His ambitions conquer his sense of responsibility, his plan is clear: He decides to leave and follow his dream to become an Emperor. 


    Åse and Solveig are looking for Peer in the forest, but he does not dare show himself. As they disappear, the Old Man of Dovre and the Green-Clad Woman are waiting for him with the child. They want Peer to pledge allegiance to the Enchanted Forest, and surrender to lies, deceit and lust. Peer is interested, but balks when they ask him to pledge. He flees. Escaping from the Old Man of Dovre, he encounters the Boyg, who insists that Peer must make a choice; go home to the village and to Solveig. Peer resists, choosing freedom. 

    Scene 3: A cabin in the forest

    Peer goes to his mother's to collect his things and prepare his journey into the world. At home he finds Åse on her deathbed. He tells her one last fairy tale and then says his goodbyes. Solveig arrives; she has left her family to be with him. For a moment Peer feels that everything is right, everything is as it should be. But his peace of mind is shattered when the Green-Clad Woman, with the child in tow, breaks upon the scene. Peer’s fear returns and he leaves them both.

     

    2. act

    Scene 1: Morocco 

    Peer has made his fortune and is now well of, with an entourage of sycophantic friends. In a discussion about what happiness is von Eberkopf tells a story about a slaughterhouse in Rome which is for sale. This abattoir holds all humanity’s dreams. Whoever has control of the slaughterhouse in Rome will thus own them and have power over everyone on earth. The hitch is that on arrival in the slaughterhouse people are shown their innermost desires and after seeing them most people immediately wish to die, which the slaughterhouse can help them with. 
    Peer is very interested in this story, but hides this from his friends. Anitra and her retinue arrive, joking that Peer should buy the abattoir and become the new Messiah. Peer replies that he would hardly want to be a Messiah. He is disappointed in mankind and even more in God, whom he feels is absent. He sees the world as a meaningless desert and people are hopeless fools because they need something to believe in to live.
    To lift him out of these thoughts, Peer asks Anitra to sing for them. While she is singing, a gang of robbers enters. They steal Peer's suitcase with all his money. It appears that Peer's "friends" are behind the plot. With the rest of his valuables Peer decides to take Anitra with him to Rome to buy the slaughterhouse that would give him power over all mankind.

    Scene 2: Rome - in a slaughterhouse

    In the slaughterhouse Anitra is appalled that Peer wants to own such a place. Peer, on the other hand, loves it; this is where weak people come to die. Anitra is frightened by the change in Peer and she flees from him. Peer is furious, all his hate against people pours out of him, and he is shown his dream, his innermost desire: to kill everybody and everything around him! Amid all the victims he suddenly sees Solveig. Peer is reminded of his human compassion and stops shooting. He collapses.

    Scene 3: Cairo - in a madhouse

     Peer wakes up in a vacuum. He cannot discern between truth and dream. He does not understand who he is or how he became what he is. In this state Peer learns that "To be yourself is to sacrifice your self". But how do you do that? Peer leaves the madhouse as confused as he was, and a Cheshire cat approaches him. This creature, able to look right through him, tells him that he is suffering and needs to go home. Peer obeys, and sets course for home.

    Scene 4: Homecoming

    After arriving home, Peer comes upon a nocturnal funeral. Talking with a groundskeeper, Peer desperately wants to know how to live without regret. The groundskeeper tells him this is done by being true to oneself and by seizing what is true in the moment. The groundskeeper then tells a story about someone who was so busy living and experiencing everything in life for himself that he travelled through life without ever understanding what or who he lived for. He did not live truly because he only lived for himself. 


    Peer figures out that this story is about him; his entire life has been meaningless, he has been selfish. Some of the mourners recognize him and old acquaintances come up to him to say hello. Peer sees that these simple people who he has despised all his life have had meaningful lives; they have lived loving each other. 


    Suddenly Young Solveig is there, as in a mirage. She has always been waiting for him. He has made her life meaningful. In her love he has been whole. Peer asks forgiveness, and Solveig forgives him, saying that now everything is the way it should be.


    When they come to the cabin, Old Solveig meets them in the doorway. Young Solveig's forgiveness could only have occurred in the past, it turns out. Peer came home too late. Old Solveig has forgiven him a long time ago and has lived her life sharing love with everyone around her. No one has the right to demand forgiveness from another person, forgiveness starts with oneself, she insists. For Young Solveig it hurts to discover Peer's cheating, but her older self comforts her and encourages her; she will have a meaningful life. The happiness she felt in the infatuation of her youth will be valuable through all her life. 


    Peer understands that his cheating has been difficult for Solveig. He understands that the great forgiveness he is longing for will be an arduous task he must assume responsibility for himself. Young Solveig leaves the old couple, who are left mourning over a lost life together.

     

    The composer

    Jüri Reinvere ble født i Estland i 1971, og etter at han som 18-åring hadde tatt komposisjonslinjen på gymnaset, flyttet han til Warszawa for å studere ved Chopin-akademiet. Deretter flyttet han til Finland, der han bodde i 15 år, og fullførte studier på Sibelius-akademiet i Helsinki. 

     

    Mot slutten av tiden i Finland ble  Reinvere opptatt av ordet. Han skrev poesi og ble spesielt opptatt av japanske haiku-dikt. Språk og tekster ga verkene hans en kosmopolitisk identitet.  I disse årene var han også sterkt knyttet til Stockholm, der hans venn Käbi Laretei og hennes eksmann Ingmar Bergman spilte en sentral rolle i hans kunstneriske utvikling. I 2005 flyttet Reinvere til Berlin, der han fortsatt har sin base. 

    Berlin ga nye dimensjoner til hans identitet. Berlin er fri og innovativ, samtidig som byen er bærer av en tung historisk kulturarv. Hans musikk og poesi preges av motsetninger, som mellom stillhet og støy, ro og pasjon, fornuft og følelser. Han går ikke på opptrådte stier, og velger heller ikke minste motstands vei. Han leter alltid etter nye løsninger, i tråd med sin egen kunstneriske stemme. På hans verksliste står flere stykker for kammerorkester og talestemme, og flere av dem tar i bruk multimedier og elektronika.

    Reinvere er også en ivrig essayist, og skriver innlegg om politikk og kunst i mange land og på mange språk.

    Peer Gynt er et bestillingsverk fra Den Norske Opera & Ballett. Operaen er basert på Ibsens drama Peer Gynt, men Reinvere står også for bearbeidelsen til libretto.  Hans Peer Gynt er en ganske annen enn Ibsens.

    Tidligere har han skrevet operaen Utrenskning, som er basert på en roman av den finsk-estiske forfatteren Sofi Oksanen, og som ble en stor  suksess.

    Komponist Jüri Reinvere og dirigent John Helmer Fiore diskuterer partituret. Foto: Erik Berg

    The prodigal son

    Jüri Reinvere interviewed by Alf van der Hagen

    Peer Gynt resembles the prodigal son in Jüri Reinvere's new libretto: He finds himself by losing himself.

    - Yes, I admit it: I enjoyed the challenge of creating a contemporary opera about symbols of our time, while following in the footsteps of the two godfathers of the Scandinavian arts, Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Grieg. My first opera was based on Sofi Oksanen's 2008 novel, Purge. It's still too early for me as an artist to create my own storyline for an opera. It's too big, too demanding. I need a foundation to lean on, and write a completely new libretto on top of that.

    What were you looking for in Ibsen's Peer Gynt?

    - Obviously Norwegians know Peer Gynt via Ibsen, but most people outside of Scandinavia really know Peer Gynt because of a few scenes from Edvard Grieg's music: They know that the mother, Åse, will die, they know there's an ethereal girl just sitting and waiting somewhere, and they know the seductive, dancing Anitra. Grieg's Peer Gynt is a huge symbol at the centre of classical music: it would be hard to find a more famous monument. If you say “Peer Gynt” outside of Scandinavia, most people think of Grieg rather than Ibsen.

    For me, it was crucial from the outset to include the whole thing, and not just zoom in on a few famous pages. We needed the whole of Ibsen's work there on the stage.What kind of opera is your Peer Gynt?It's a classical opera in the sense that at its core there are singing voices telling a dramatic story. The libretto is used to communicate between the characters, not as separate material. These days this is an aesthetic statement which is no longer that much in evidence. It's this form of musical theatre that I personally believe in most: opera as a magnificent, macroscopic symphonic form which takes its structure from the libretto.

    Let's go straight to the character. I don't know if I like him … How do you feel about Peer Gynt?

    - But he's everything! He's everything that it means to be human. For me it was important to understand how Ibsen himself viewed the character. We all know the story about Ole Bull as a potential model. But even more important is the parable of the prodigal son, from the New Testament. That's the basis. And the other underlying source that Ibsen used was the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard's concept of human development.

    From the aesthetic, via the ethical, to the religious?

    Exactly! Towards the end, Peer Gynt raises the question of God's existence and mercy. In one sense it's a Christian play. And this was an important task I set myself: never to abandon Ibsen and Kierkegaard's philosophy.But you've done lots of new things with the libretto, including creating new characters and new scenes.I've been as creative as I possibly could in doing this 150 years later, while never incorporating anything new that I don't think Mr Ibsen could also have accepted today. I shared my flat in Berlin with Kierkegaard and Ibsen while I wrote; I kind of felt their spirit surrounding me. And I always asked Mr Ibsen when I was in doubt, and if he nodded at me that was fine.

    What was it about Kierkegaard's approach to Ibsen that fascinated you?

    We could talk about this for hours. The concepts of grace and Christian morality are aspects of the play that I absolutely didn't want to repudiate in an era that increasingly tries to dilute this background. It doesn't mean we have to turn this into a Christian opera. Peer Gynt is like a grab bag of themes that Ibsen scatters in front of us. My job was to create a libretto that others could play with: in this case the director, Sigrid Strøm Reibo, and Katrin Nottrodt, who designed the sets. I try to write so that people working with the play can bring their own strengths to the production. So some will find the Christian aspect while others will emphasise other elements. That's how it should be.

    Is Peer Gynt a play about Norwegians?

    - No, I look for the universal. But I understand that many Norwegians know several of the speeches by heart. Peer, you're lying! No, I'm not! What line should open the opera? That was the first difficult question for a non-Norwegian librettist. It turned out to be the pastor's speech: “Night is no night, and day is no day when one stands in the light. Lies become truth and truth lies if you believe the delusions of anger.” And then you can move on to Åse's final speech in scene 2: “Oh … Peer, you are lying, you are lying! … lying.” While the very last words to Solveig as an old woman are: “You never change.” Peer: “… No. Never …” Solveig (smiling): “One can always hope.” Peer: “It's good to live with hope.” Solveig: “Oh, you simply lie and lie and lie.” Well, that's just an example of what I can do with the famous quotations.We like to think that Ibsen is passing judgement on his countrymen, with Peer being our worst side: the greedy one, the person who uses others and is self-sufficient.As I said, my goal wasn't to create a Norwegian opera. I wanted to write about westerners in general, and to critique the greed of the West … But I don't see Peer Gynt the way Norwegians do.

    Is the story of the prodigal son really a judgement on the youngest son?

    - In one sense, the prodigal son was actually the only one who lived! The others were so careful, they stayed at home and experienced nothing. They really had no lives.

    You're a cosmopolitan artist: you grew up in Estonia, studied in Poland, lived for fourteen years in Finland and for the past ten in Berlin. You like putting literary texts into your own compositions, and switch between different musical styles, both avant-garde modernism and a somewhat romantic style …

    - Completely romantic!

    What advantages does living in all these different worlds give you?

    - Well, it's certainly a rich life! Obviously, there are lots of challenges involved in keeping it together, in terms of both living between different countries and with the music as a whole. As you say, I have two strands in my music: one is very modern, and the other undoubtedly conservative. My operas tread a path between these. With the exception of a small quotation from Edvard Grieg, there are no direct musical quotations in my Peer Gynt. Everything is new. But I've used many of Grieg's gestures: pauses, certain types of cadences that he often uses, particular transitions that evoke Grieg's expression. There is definitely a discussion going on about the pastorale musical form, yes, a few things like that.

    But I want to stress that my romanticism in Peer Gynt isn't a restorative romanticism, but romanticism with a glint in its eye and a view to the future. It contains a critique of our lifestyle, in which we Europeans, romantically enough, have become so dependent on monuments from the past that we have almost lost our ability to look to the future.

    All the same: whom do you look up to in the history of music?

    - Some composers, like the French composer Charles Tournemire, have meant a huge amount to me, although he hasn't played a particularly big role in the history of music. But for me as an individual, he is important and feels very close. And there are composers I admire for their excellence, even if they haven't played a special role in my life, like Beethoven. On the other hand, Brahms has played a massive role, as has Bach … And Russian music; I still think Tchaikovsky is one of the greatest composers of all time. Even if he fails now and then. I'm definitely not a Wagner fan, for political reasons apart from anything else, even if his skills in the main, although not always, were unbelievable. On the other hand, Richard Strauss is very important to me. My operas are indebted in their essence to Strauss and his librettist, Hugo von Hofmannstahl. To me, Richard Strauss is the perfect opera composer.

    Why did you write the libretto for Peer Gynt in German?

    - Because I knew it would need to be translated into Norwegian. I felt that German was a little closer to Norwegian than, say, English, which would have been more natural for me to write in. But obviously, German is the perfect language for singing, while also facilitating the work of translation.

    What did you like best about the working process?

    - It was a real pleasure to be able to play with humour. My first opera was extremely tragic in terms of content, for obvious reasons, and it was liberating to step out of that world and use comedy as part of my music again. I think modern opera has forgotten the comedy. We've become uncomfortable with the language of comedy. It was liberating to put this back, and also to play with language.

    Why do you want to work with opera? You could have carried on working in many other genres.

    - Opera as a genre is monumental; it's approaching insanity. And it forces me to ask myself what opera and opera culture are really about. I feel content in this kind of area, where different artistic forms overlap. Opera demands enormous energy: everyone involved is placed under great pressure. A huge machine is set in motion: it's Ibsen's material along with ancillary themes from our own time, national conflict, the current political situation, child terrorists, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, it's all there in this production. But the questions in Peer Gynt are still relevant, however much the world has changed in 150 years.

    I've written in every literary genre apart from the novel, but writing a libretto is like nothing else. It doesn't resemble anything. You have to forget all you know about writing in order to get started. First you have the words, and then the music. It changes everything you've written in an almost metaphysical way. In musical theatre, you can tell stories between the lines. In one glimpse, you can reach the unattainable essence, this core of truth that's truer than true. This is what is so difficult to achieve, which the words can't do by themselves but which, oddly enough, you can do with an opera.

    Which questions?

    - I am strongly convinced that we have drifted into a kind of dream about our own identity as westerners. It's self-delusion. You can see it in how we relate to the past, to our great forefathers, to how we listen to the music of yesterday …

    So you want to wake up the audience?

    - No, I wouldn't say that. I work the way Ibsen did; I tell the story, and people have to decide what they want to do with it. Whether they wake up or sink into a deeper sleep.

    What do you think about the future of what you're working on? Are you fighting on the defensive? Do you feel that, as an opera composer, you represent a dying European culture?

    - Yes, absolutely. There's definitely a process of dying going on, if you look at it from a big enough perspective. But this is a natural part of the cycle, and it doesn't mean we have to die along with this here and now. It's important to live and carry on living, and to really value our cultural values. I don't know what it is that’s made those of us in western culture start saying we don't value culture in the way we needed it before. The reasons for this are more complex than we think.

    I'd love to hear you talk more about this!

    - I view society as a body, with the economy and culture as the two legs. If one of the legs is destroyed, sooner or later the body as a whole will collapse. One leg can't exist without the other. Instead of the economy, you could talk about commerce. Because that's a theme in this opera: the importance of commerce and the importance of culture. Something's happened in the West over the past few centuries: we've exaggerated and praised the importance of commerce, and ignored the importance of culture. They're shutting down music classes in Finland because they don't bring in money. In Hamburg, there was talk that schoolchildren no longer needed to learn handwriting, because typing on a keyboard was enough. This is a clear sign that we are willing to go wild and move away from the basis for civilisation as a whole, as we know it today. I see these things as big warning lights. But I don't see them as reasons to commit mass cultural suicide. It's a cycle that has happened many times already in the world. It's part of the cycle of life and death - or to put it in Christian terms, it's the idea of death and resurrection. It's a normal part of existence.

    At the same time, is classical European culture valued in concert halls in other parts of the world?

    - Yes, we've created a system in which we're closing down concert halls and publishing houses every week throughout Europe, while in Asia they're building the same things up every week. They are hungry to identify themselves with our culture there. It's worth noting that we are willing to close and cancel things ourselves, but they aren't. They are proud of the things we once created. And they need it. And yes, you could view these themes as the foundation of the new Peer Gynt opera, definitely!

     

    Work in progress

    I disse dager jobbes det hardt både på scenen og bak - for å gjøre alt klart til Peer Gynt-premieren 29. november.
    (Foto: Erik Berg)

    Besnærende fjell-landskap, designet av scenograf Katrin Nottrodt

    Scenograf Katrin Nottrodt og regissør Sigrid Strøm Reibo forklarer konseptet


    Et par tusen nattergaler trenger fjær

    Masker skal klargjøres på malersalen



    Bukken venter på Peer (Foto: Ingeborg Norshus)

    Bøygen (johannes Weisser) under konstruksjon

    Bøygen (David Hansen) under konstruksjon


    Ikke akkurat vanlige, kjøpte parasoller

    Barnet blir korrigert

    The director

    Tied to the opera

    By Hedda Høgåsen-Hallesby

    Sigrid Strøm Reibo is a rough, relaxed and reflected stage artist who likes being tied to what she is working on – so she can challenge it. At the age of 32 she is directing the first opera version in Norway of the Norwegian classic Peer Gynt.

    “There were probably a few surprised faces when they first saw me here in the opera house canteen.”Sigrid smiles behind her glasses. What she has taken on is unique in an international context. Traditionally opera has been dominated by men – preferably by men who have been in the field for many years. “I thought I was past the young director phase, but I had to think again when I came here!”

    Sigrid Strøm Reibo is a merited stage artist with experience from the major Norwegian stages, but also from Russia, where she trained as a director. For the performance Katten som gikk sine egne veier [The cat that walked its own ways] in 2009, she was nominated for the Gullmasken [Gold Mask] award, the very highest Russian theatre award. Back in Norway in 2012, she won the Hedda award for directing Black Rider at Hålogaland Theatre and for Molière's The Misanthrope at Rogaland Theatre – described by the jury as “ground-breaking stage direction”. In 2010 she was also nominated for the Hedda for her Norwegian directing debut, Beckett's Waiting for Godot at Hålogaland Theatre, and in addition, she has twice been nominated for Kritikerprisen [The theatre critics award]. In the spring of 2014 she gave Racine's classic Phaedra a modern expression at Det Norske Teatret [The Norwegian Theatre] and from the spring of 2015 she is the house director at the National Theatre in Oslo.

    But, she has only done opera once before: La bohème with the Northern Norwegian Opera and Symphony Orchestra. Now she is taking on nothing less than a world premiere, which has already attracted a huge amount of international attention. It is also the first time that Norway’s most famous brand name, Peer Gynt, is being made into an opera on Norwegian soil. 

    Three weeks before the premiere one can feel the rising tension in the corridors. In Finland the publishing house is frantically printing sheet music, and in the paint workshop all available crew are gluing feathers on the more than 3500 nightingales that will soar down from the ceiling. But in the studio, Sigrid stands completely at ease and instructs the singers, hands in the pockets of her blazer and with quiet humour. 

    “Everybody is working as hard as they can, and everyone is feeling the pressure, so I don't need to. If I want the soloists to deliver, it won’t help if I shout at them.”

    Do you never get stressed?

    “Oh yes, I get stressed when I see that something I’ve decided to do doesn't work, and I have no clue how to get it right. But not now – now we’re creating.”

    A new Peer

    What Sigrid is now helping to create together with the composer Jüri Reinvere and costume designer and set designer Katrin Nottrodt, is not only a new opera, but also an entirely new Peer Gynt. 

    “I have wanted to stage Peer Gynt for a long time. It has a wonderful Shakespearean lightness and abundance, qualities Ibsen unfortunately lost after his play Brand.”

    It is also important to point out that this is Jüri Reinvere's Peer Gynt, not Ibsen's, Sigrid adds. Reinvere’s intention was not to make a music drama version of Ibsen's work, but to offer a new interpretation of the work, where Peer no longer peddles idols and black slaves, but rather options and illusions. This is Peer Gynt of and for our time, but it takes another approach than the political-satirical production shown in the National theatre earlier this autumn. It is rather a poetic-philosophical interpretation of Ibsen's drama, with the ambition of expressing what it means to be oneself in 2014. 

    “Reinvere's Peer Gynt highlights the volatile times we are living in, where we don’t dare commit ourselves to anything for fear of losing another opportunity,” Sigrid says, explaining:
    “Earlier you would start working for a company and make your way loyally up the system’s ladder, and the company took good care of you if you were loyal to them, but now we're hopping and skipping from one job to the next. We invest, and then pull out when it’s no longer profitable or rewarding for us – and this includes affairs of the heart. We’re not willing to sacrifice, commit, assume responsibility and bind ourselves. Today you have to be flexible, impulsive and forever searching for something better. Change has become the norm. That’s when it’s easy to lose sight of your own principles, control of your own life – and the meaning of life.

    ”That is precisely why, Sigrid believes, Reinvere's opera shows that the criticism of “the Gyntian self” is more relevant than ever.

    How has your relationship to Peer Gynt changed through this process?

    “I have definitely got to know him better. He used to be a lively, charming and adventurous person taking things lightly, but now I also see a dark side to him: bitterness, loneliness – something tangible and real. The reasons for his selfish nature are clearer to me now. Peer is afraid of disappointing family and the people who are close to him. He hates the bad conscience he gets from their disappointed expectations for him, and that is why he breaks off more and more of his close relationships.”

    Do you recognize yourself in him?

    “Yes I do, today we live in a society which is so deeply into self-realization. In a sense it’s a human right to follow your impulses, and do what you want. Freedom, flexibility, being on the go and on the move, and always developing – these have become the ideals. We really need to slow down and think once in a while, hop off the merry-go-round, and feel what’s important. It’s so easy to get carried away.” 

    Musical ties

    Sigrid has wanted to do an opera for a long time. “My first main stage production in Norway was a new musical comedy based on the cycle of poems by Arne Garborg called Haugtussa [the nickname of a visionary young woman] at Rogaland theatre, with Alexander Manotskov's music. That was the first time I thought that I would like to do opera.” 

    Why?

    “I have always enjoyed staying within the bounds of the work, but still taking it as far away from its original frames as possible. I like that the music gives me a task that I can resolve as creatively as possible.”

    Sigrid's productions have almost always been accompanied by music. The Hedda award jury praised her ability to “create a compelling whole by uniting lighting, music, physical expressivity and dance with her confident and detailed instruction of players”. Oleg Glushkov has often had a choreographic finger in her creative pies, as he does in Peer Gynt

    “Oleg was a teacher at my school, GITIS in Moscow, and taught dance to the actors in our class. I liked what he did so much that I asked him if he wanted to be in my first production there. Later he has taken part in more or less half of my productions.”

    What is the difference between directing opera and theatre? 

    “The singers have the music in their heads. It’s what sets the boundaries. In theatre you pretty well decide things yourself; you give yourself a task to solve. The process is also much more open. When you meet the actors for the first reading rehearsal, they may not even have read the text at all. We analyse the situations in the piece for a long time at the table, and then we rehearse them in all possible ways on the floor, and eventually we move closer and closer to a precise form. Singers, on the other hand, arrive with material that is perfectly set, always with the music as the guiding force, and often they may have performed the role many times before. Perhaps that’s why they often ask less questions. It’s actually a relief in a way, but it may also impede good personal instruction. When working with La bohème, for example, I heard that ‘on this beat I usually look left’. This is when opera can easily become its own cliché.”

    In Reinvere's Peer Gynt nobody “usually does” anything yet, do they?

    “Exactly, and that’s why this has been so much fun: We’re creating a work, an expression and a style together. We have been in a process all the way, even when racing against the clock we have tested things out, been open and intuitive. I’m proud that we have managed to do it. For me it’s important to create in the moment.”

    Make no mistake though, Sigrid is always extremely well prepared. 

    “You should never stage something the way you think it should be at first glance, then you’ll use yourself up. I need to understand the author's language – his or her world. I like to produce texts that already have a history. Where there’s much to delve into, think about and decide.”

    The great notion in Reinvere's Peer Gynt Sigrid has found what she calls the Great Notion:

    “To know what is true and right, you must have both feet on the ground and know yourself,” as Solveig does. The great notion of what is right is so easily lost in the hubbub of what is going on.

    What is it she has a notion about, do you think?

    “Towards the end of Reinvere's opera the old Solveig and the old Peer are sitting with a lost life between them. They can’t undo the tragedy of their lives. But where Peer understands that he has lived a meaningless and empty life, Solveig is happy. She has been through a long process which has allowed her to see that loving and being loved has given her life meaning. I love the new ending, which is still very Ibsen-like, and the new Solveig, who does not save a man, but herself.” 

     

    Peer Gynt

    There's a crack in everything

    Av Ingeborg Norshus

    Nils Harald Sødal har i flere måneder levd i det Peer Gyntske univers. Men det å skrive og komponere en helaftens opera er ikke gjort over natten, og i en skapelsesprosess hender det at tidsrammene ryker. De siste månedene har dermed vært nokså intense, for å si det mildt.

    Hvordan begynte du tilnærmingen til denne rollen? Var det skikkelsen Peer Gynt du måtte komme under huden på først, eller det musikalske uttrykket?

    – Det første jeg gjorde var å bli godt kjent med teater-skikkelsen Peer Gynt. I sommer inviterte Iren Reppen meg opp på Gålå, og jeg fikk anledning til å diskutere rollen med flere av Norges fremste skuespillere. Jeg tok også kontakt med Kåre Conradi her i Oslo. Vi hadde en meget fruktbar samtale, og alt dette har hjulpet meg til å finne en inngang på stoffet.  

    Jeg ser for meg at innstuderingen av denne rollen må ha vært musikalsk ekstremt krevende – uten mulighet til å høre det fullstendige orkesterbildet, og med en atonal melodilinje som ikke akkurat virker intuitiv?

    – Det er utvilsomt et veldig komplekst verk, og det har vært krevende for alle sangerne å jobbe med. Vi prøver jo å skape en ny tilnærming til dette kjente stoffet. Peer Gynt forbindes tradisjonelt med Griegs musikk. Ikke noe galt i det. Men vi må huske at Ibsens anliggende med alle sine rollefigurer var å belyse det allmennmenneskelige. Det at vi bruker en komponist med internasjonalt ry og virke, gjør at vi forhåpentligvis kan løfte forestillingen ut av en snever norsk virkelighetsforståelse. Ønsket er at vi klarer å si noe sant om det å være menneske, uavhengig av nasjonale skillelinjer.


    Librettoen er på norsk, noe som kanskje gjør det lettere å skulle gestalte skikkelsen. Hvem er Peer i dine øyne?

    – Jeg har ærlig talt aldri skjønt poenget med en Peer Gynt-pris. Peer er jo ikke en fyr å se opp til. Hans selvopptatthet og selvmedlidenhet kjenner ingen grenser. Han er rett og slett et ganske fordervet menneske, og dermed ganske gjenkjennbar. Som Piet Hein uttrykte det: Hva syns du om verdenssituasjonen? Ingenting, jeg har fått noe i øyet! Poenget er at selv for oss fordervede så finnes det håp. Solveig holder fast i det som er godt i Peer. Denne tilgivende holdningen skaper til slutt en åpning i Peer. Dette er en variant av Leonard Cohens kjente sitat: «There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.» Solveig representerer nåden som gjør at Peer til slutt åpner opp og finner tilbake til seg selv. 



    Nils Harald har sunget en rekke klassiske roller, bl.a. i operaer som Den glade enke, Flaggermusen, La traviata og Carmen, men har også gjort mye samtidsmusikk. Han har akkurat regnet på det, og kommet til at han har vært med på mer enn 20 urfremføringer av nye musikkdramatiske verk. 

    – Jeg må innrømme at det gjorde godt å få gjøre Don José igjen i en Carmen-oppsetning i fjor sommer, sier han, – men det som er fint med ny musikk, er at man står friere i sin tolkning, fordi verket ikke er forbundet med konvensjoner og tradisjon. Det dumme er at altfor mange nye verk havner i en skuff etter første fremføring, for aldri å bli tatt opp igjen. Dette handler ikke bare om et umodent publikum – som noen komponister synes å mene. Det handler like mye om at komponistene ofte ikke har god nok teaterforståelse. 

    Hvordan det har vært å jobbe med en urfremføring som dette? Har dere som sangere vært med på å utforme rollene, eller har Sigrid Strøm Reibo og Jüri Reinvere hatt helt klare oppfatninger av rolledefinisjonene? Og er det noe forskjell på å jobbe med operaregissører og teaterregissører?

    – Noen har stusset over at komponisten selv har skrevet librettoen, og at han har tatt seg til dels store friheter i forhold til Ibsens opprinnelige tekst. Men vi må huske at når for eksempel Verdi laget Othello, så brukte han en egen librettist som skrev om Shakespeare. Dette fordi teksten måtte tilrettelegges musikkdramaturgisk. Å bare sette melodi til Ibsens tekster, tror jeg ikke ville fungert i en gjennomkomponert opera som dette. Gjennom sitt verk har dermed Reinvere lagt føringer på utformingen av karakterene. Sigrid på sin side har også hele veien hatt klare oppfatninger, men hun har en fantastisk lederstil som har skapt en fin dynamikk i ensemblet. Og at hun kan teater, er det ingen tvil om, og det er vel først og fremst det vi vil ha hos en regissør. 

    Og det er heller ingen tvil om at Nils Harald Sødal mestrer den sangermaratonen det er å stå på scenen i to og en halv time, i rollen som den selvopptatte og selvmedlidende Peer.

    Dates

    Completed

    • Scene
      :
      Main House
    • Price
      :
      100 - 745 NOK
    • /
      1 intermission

    November 2014

    Completed

    December 2014

    Completed
    Completed
    Completed
    Completed

    January 2015

    Completed
    Completed
    Completed