Ketil Bjørnstad: Flagstad the Opera

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1 CD | 1 DVD | Booklet 

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23 Αυγούστου 2021

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Ketil Bjørnstad

Flagstad the Opera

Καλλιτέχνες

Birgitte Christensen (Soprano)

Finally, an opera about the world-famous soprano Kirsten Flagstad! In this opera, we meet Kirsten Flagstad at Rikshospitalet in the last hours of her life. Here she looks back on her life, her triumphs, and her most painful defeats. A young nurse becomes a confidential conversation partner and friend. Now she can speak freely.

In terms of genre, the opera can be described as melodic with lyrical and dramatic features.

The libretto is based on the critically acclaimed play Flagstad – Triumph and Tragedy by Einar Bjørge which was very well received in New York in 2014. Both the opera and the play are based on unique source material about Flagstad’s life and career from the archives at Kirsten Flagstad Museum at Hamar.

Kirsten Flagstad (1895 – 1962) is often simply referred to as “the voice” – and is still considered the world’s foremost Wagner soprano. Her voice has been described as “melting gold on black velvet”. Flagstad already had an established career in Norway and Scandinavia with a varied repertoire, but when she debuted as Sieglinde in Wagner’s Valkyrie in 1935, she was quickly proclaimed a star. The audience in the hall and radio listeners from all over New York flocked around the stage entrance to get a glimpse of this new phenomenal singer from Norway. Flagstad’s international career began immediately, and she toured all over the world with an extensive concert repertoire in addition to leading roles at most leading opera houses.

Privately, Kirsten Flagstad was a very shy person. When World War II broke out, she just wanted to go home to her husband and family in Norway. But as the dutiful and professional artist, she was, she first wanted to finish the season for which she had signed a contract with the Metropolitan in New York. In the meantime, the United States joined the war and it became almost impossible to return home.

When the war was over, her husband died in captivity. Life was never the same for Kirsten Flagstad, and she retired to the country house Amalienborg near Kristiansand even though she continued to sing. Being appointed the first director of the Norwegian Opera in 1958 was a great reparation for her, but by then she was already seriously ill with cancer.

In the main role as Kirsten Flagstad, we meet the internationally renowned Norwegian soprano, Birgitte Christensen. The music is composed by Ketil Bjørnstad with libretto by Einar Bjørge who is also the director. This new opera has been commissioned and produced by the Oslo Opera Festival by Gjøril Songvoll and the musical arrangement and orchestration have been done by pianist Stefan Ibsen Zlatanos.

FLAGSTAD – THE OPERA will have its world premiere at Hamar, Kirsten Flagstad’s birthplace, on 11 June 2021, and the same day the release will be released on CD (incl. DVD). The recording is from the dress rehearsal on stage 2 at the Norwegian Opera in November 2020. (The day before the opera house and the rest of the cultural life in Oslo again had to be shut down due to the corona pandemic).

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