Aarhus Sommeropera


Principals: Nina, Bols Lundgren; Liv Oddveig Midtmageli; Jakob Næslund Madsen; Jens Bruno Hansen
Actors: Durita Dahl Andreassen, Merete Hegner; Zaki Nobel Mehabil; Carl Christian Rasmussen
Director: Asger Bonfils
Designer: Anette Hansen
Conductor: David Riddell
The Danis Sinfonietta - Randers Kammerorkester

Aarhus Sommeropera presented yet another thought-provoking world premiere, ROSA AND ETERNITY as our production in 2014. The Old Town celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014, and to mark this we performed a specially commissioned a work which took its starting point in some of the buildings in the Old Town, and some of the historic figures who have lived there. To give the production authentic Aarhusian flavour, Aarhus-author Svend Åge Madsen wrote the libretto together with his daughter, Maria Madsen, and composer Erik Bach, former rector of the Royal Danish Conservatory in Aarhus, provided the music.

The time is 1974. The well known composer Albert C. Malinger is informed that he is critically ill, and his major concern is that his futuristic work "Festspil 2014" is unfinished. In desperation, he seeks inspiration from his muse, the humming girl, who has already inspired his well-known work on the spirited life in the Miller's House in 1864, and The Orgasm Variations which we also see in creation and in performance. Originally, Rosa worked as maid for Ejler Bølle in the newly built Provost's Mansion. When the bishop tries to force himself upon her, she slips from his grasp, humming all the while. He curses her to wander eternally humming, observing life but never participating in it. Together Albert and Rosa travel through time to alter their death (and life) sentences so he can complete his "Festspil 2014" and she can live life, for better or worse.

"Opera is an entertaining and exiting genre to work with, in as much as an opera libretto is so stylised. This gives varying degrees of freedom, but also limitations, which forces me as an author to be very strict with myself and very precise. I am used to writing prose, so it has been fun to experience how quickly and precisely on can get something to work", said Svend Åge Madsen.

"We step into the plot immediately. We see the composer's reaction; he thinks over the various works he has created, and worries over the things he has not managed to finish. This is one of the productions main elements - the other is the myth we have here in Aarhus about woman who is doomed to walk the earth for eternity, quietly humming a melody to herself, observing live, but unable to participate in it. She has contact with the composers and knows his situation."

"The plot is relatively complex, with several time-levels. But the main story is simple. An opera, we have used as inspiration is "The Tales of Hoffmann" and another is "Ariadne auf Naxos". Both used two levels - two stories, which play out simultaneously. In that respect, we are relatively close to tradition."

Erik Bach wrote: "The challenge for me as composer, has been to write an opera in an opera. With four full-blooded singers, who have to match four fully -grown actors in the plot, it has not been by any means easy. The libretto's characters wear their emotions on their sleeve, and there are also challenges with the historic aspects of the story. That the main character "finds himself" in 1974 means that the narrative opera (as opposed to the opera in the narrative) takes its stylistic starting point in the contemporary tonal language of the time, postmodernism. The opera in the opera is a "Festspil", so this points towards the music's possibilities for underlining the "festivities"! The Old Town is celebrating its 100th anniversary, so why not exploit the possibility to express this musically in a postmodern context."

This production was funded by: Wilhelm Hansens Fond; Aarhus Stiftstidendes Fond; Dansk Kompoist Forenings Produktionspulje and KODAs Nationale Midler