From Royal Swedish Opera 2011 production
|Elin Rombo as Blanche de la Force|
|Stockholm Opera House|
Like several of the operas I have seen recently, the sets are monochrome with muted shades in the costume. Here the black white and grey is replaced by an IKEA catalogue style blue and stripped pine silver. I love the mildewed convent wall from which you can almost smell the damp. There is the obligatory McVicker's style splash of red however and in a neat stage effect vertical lines of vermilion stream down the corrugated backdrop powerfully evoking the bloodshed of the guillotine in the final scene.
There are large cloakrooms on each floor and the audience are comfortably rather glamorously attired and the lighting in these areas is restfully dimmed. My seat at 290 Swedish Kroner (€30) was perhaps the best value I have had in opera tickets in quite a while. The opera house with comfy red velvet seats and period decor is elegant space with an intimate feel to it without being overly ostentatious.
|Afficionadas study the programme|
Earlier in the day I attended the lunchtime concert at the Gustaf III Cafe in the basement. Not a great venue for poor old Gustaf as he met his end I believe in this very house, the event immortalisted by Verdi in operatic terms in Un Ballo in Maschera Not having a ticket I came along early to find no door open to any part of the house. With the Box Office closed, I walked around the house (twice) looking for a separate entrance to the cafe. Feeling like Alice in the Looking Glass I found entrances that looked like promising but were not the Gustaf 111 which in fact is accessed through the main door and which didn't open til the appointed hour of noon.
I enjoyed chatting to door lady Lena about her time in Dublin learning English and her enthusiasm for the operas of Gerald Barry, himself a Clare man. She hoped to get to the Wexford festival some day and pointed out a name among the production credits. No mistaking the Irish influence with a name like Conor Murphy listed as lighting for the production of Lohengrin.
All in all, I enjoyed a | very interesting, entertaining and inexpensive night at one of Europe's oldest opera houses.
*(The Sweden Democrats grabbed the headlines at last year's ecumenical service when they stormed out when bishop Eva Brunne argued that xenophobia and racism "is not worthy of a democracy like ours".)