My other interests

Remember the 2011 Norway attacks: Music for comfort and hope

Five years have passed since the two terrible sequential terrorist attacks in Norway on 22 July 2011 known as “The 2011 Norway attacks”, in Norway just as “22 July” (“22. juli”). The lone wolf terrorist killed 77 persons an injured over four times as many.

I haven’t really got anything to add to what’s been said before during the last five years. You come to a point were there’s no words left. It’s all been said before, and even better by others. The important thing is to remember those who died, to honour their legacy, and to never let this happen again. To anybody.

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All I can offer here is music. I strongly believe in the power of music. Music can express love, loss, longing, anger and despair. Music can comfort, help and heal. Music can give people strength and hope.

The days, weeks and months that followed the 2011 attacks really showed the world the strengths of Norwegian society. It also showed that music really can give comfort and hope to people. The terrible facts remain: 77 lives are gone forever, mostly young people. Just starting out on their life’s journey. That’s still so hard to comprehend, even today.

If music can give some comfort and hope to somebody out there struggling I offer five beautiful arias, the first three sung by Pavarotti and the last two sung by the countertenor David Hansen:

  • “Caro mio ben” by Giordani
  • “Che farò senza Euridice” from “Orfeo e Euridice” by Gluck
  • “O figli miei … Ah, la paterna mano” from “Macbeth# by Verdi
  • “Ombra mai fu” from “Serse” by Handel
  • “When I am laid in earth” from “Dido and Aeneas” by Purcell

The photo above is from the Oslo government quarter where the 2011 attacks started. The H block (the tallest building) was housing the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Justice and the Police (the lowest building is the Y block). The photo is taken in August 2011, under a month after the attacks.

Never forget the 2011 Norway attacks!

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This blog post no. 313 was first published 22-07-2016. Last revision 22-07-2016.

Congratulations to all women on International Women’s Day from Pavarotti, Ornella, Mia, Mina and me

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). On this day, on March 8 every year, we celebrate women’s achievement in society and mark our solidarity for equal rights between women and men all over the world.

This day, also called International Working Women’s Day, or sometimes Women’s Liberation Day, or just Women’s Day, is celebrated in many ways.

Here in Norway there’s a tradition for a Women’s march, where women and men march for various women’s right issues. In addition there are also social and cultural events to celebrate the day, but the focus that day is always on the women’s right issues.

We congratulate all women on International Women’s Day with Pavarotti singing Donna non vidi mai (“You haven’t seen a woman like that”) from the Puccini opera Manon Lescaut, live from Munich in 1986.

We follow this love declaration with three legendary Italian pop singers: Ornella Vanoni sings Finalmente libera (“Finally free”), Mia Martini sings Libera (“Free”) and Mina sings Oggi sono io (“Today I’m me”).

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Let the celebrations begin! Congratulations to all women on International Women’s Day from Pavarotti, Ornella, Mia, Mina and me! 🙂

Felicitazioni per La Giornata internazionale della donna!

This post was first published 08-03-2015. Last revised 08-03-2015.

Christmas with Pavarotti: The East German “O holy night” album

During the Cold War Pavarotti’s recordings were rarely published in the Communist Bloc countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and he rarely held concerts behind the Iron Curtain during that period.

One of the very few exceptions took place in East Germany, or the German Democratic Republic (GDR), which was its official name, or Die Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR). as it was known in German.

In 1982, the East German state classical record label Eterna, based in East Berlin, published Pavarotti’s Christmas album “O holy night” under the title Ave Maria” on LP and Music Cassette.

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The album contained 9 tracks, which was the same tracks as the original UK Decca LP release. The US London LP version contained two more tracks, but these two tracks later appeared on later editions of the album in UK and around the world.

The Ave Maria Eterna LP can easily be found in second-hand stores in Germany and elsewhere. What a treasure to have in your Pavarotti collection!

Imagine the divided city of Berlin in 1982: Pavarotti’s Christmas album was published in East Berlin, and in West Berlin Pavarotti sang in the Verdi opera Aida at Deutsche Oper. Read about Pavarotti in that West Berlin Aida here and here.

Imagine also this: In 1989 the Berlin Wall was open and would later be teared down. The divided city was no longer divided and soon Berlin would become the capital of a united Germany.

I wish you all a joyful and peaceful Christmas!

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This post was first published 21-12-2014. Last revision 21-12-2014.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall

Today, on 9 November 2015, marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. The main celebrations are of course in Berlin, but we are all Berliners today. In  Berlin, in Germany and all around the world. Here are some photos of what is left of the Berlin wall today.

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This post was first published 09-11-2014. Last revision 09-11-2014.

Australian countertenor David Hansen handles Handel so well!

The wonderful Australian countertenor David Hansen is fantastic in Handel! David handles Handel so well! 🙂

Here are five samples of David in Handel. The arias are in running order:

  • Destructive war from Belshazzar
  • Lunga serie from Parnasso in festa
  • Quella flamma from Arminio
  • Vivi, tiranno! from Rodelinda
  • Se in fiorito from Giulio Cesare

Bravissimo, David! 🙂

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If you want more of David in Handel the place to be is Stockholm in Sweden the coming months. In September – November he will sing the role of Arsamene in the Handel opera Serse (Xerxes) together with Malena Ernman in the title role.

For more information on David in Handel’s Serse in Stockholm see here. This production premieres 12th September 2014.

You could follow David on his web site, Facebook and Twitter.

This post was first published 10-09-2014. Last revision 11-09-2014.

Pavarotti in Berlin (11): Pavarotti’s debut with the Berlin Philharmonic (but not in Berlin as one might think!)

How time flies! Just the other day it was 40 years since the great Pavarotti made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic. On the 24th of June 1974 Pavarotti joined the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by the great Herbert von Karajan in Verdi’s Requiem.

However, this performance didn’t take place in Berlin as one might think, but in the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria.

It looks like Pavarotti didn’t sing with the Berlin Philharmonic in Berlin at all, at least not with Karajan, according to this source.

I haven’t found any evidence that Pavarotti sang with the Berlin Philharmonic in the post-Karajan period either, but I may have overlooked something.

Pavarotti did however also sing with the Berlin Philharmonic in the Großes Festspielhaus in Salzburg, Austria, and at the Carnegie Hall in New York, USA, all with Karajan conducting.

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So lets look at the facts for the performance on that historic day 40 years ago:

Herbert von Karajan (conductor), Berliner Philharmoniker (orchestra), Wiener Singverein (choir)

Mirella Freni (soprano), Christa Ludwig (mezzo-soprano), Luciano Pavarotti (tenor), José van Dam (bass-baritone)

Musikverein, Vienna, Austria (venue), 24th of June 1974 (date)

It must be added that the Italian soprano Mirella Freni also made her debut with the Berlin Philharmonic in this performance.

What a historic performance it turned out to be! And before you start to ask: No recording of this performance excist as far as I know!

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This post was first published 01-07-2014. Last revision 01-07-2014.