Elvis/ Hans Christian Andersen opera , 8/9 Oct. 05

Pretty self-explanatory
martinfoyle
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Postby martinfoyle » Sun Oct 09, 2005 5:51 am

johnfoyle wrote: The programme bio. of Elvis had some great news - The North Sea Jazz Festival Show from 2004 is to be released by Deutshe Grammophon next year.


Presumably this will consist of tracks from one or both of these shows,

http://www.elviscostello.info/setlists/040709.php
http://www.elviscostello.info/setlists/040709l.php

since both were partially broadcast. Here's a forum thread about these shows

http://www.elviscostellofans.com/phpBB2 ... +show+2004

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VonOfterdingen
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Postby VonOfterdingen » Sun Oct 09, 2005 12:17 pm

So after two great days at the opera i'm able to give my say about "The secret arias".

Yesterday i was happy not to be disappointed (both by the opera and by John Foyle who is a very nice person :) ) and i liked the concert a lot. Today i could relax more and this time it was excellent!

John wrote about the set-up which was pretty much the same today so i won't bother.

1. American Humbug
A kind of strange song, sung by EC which i liked much more today than yesterday. It's got a cirkus feel and like two other songs from the set it could have been by Tom Waits. It's quit long too and has a lot of changes in style.

2. My Toy Theatre
About H.C. Andersens childhood. Some good sequences but a bit neutral i think

3. Illustrated Lady
Song 2 turns into this one and right now i can't tell them a part.

4. How Deep is the Red
enter Gisela Stille. Very beautiful song. I don't know anything about opera but she sang some very high notes. It had a very classic feel in direction of mozart and stuff like that. (what do i know...) First song to impress the audience.

5. She Was no good
Starts out great then turns into a collage of different styles. Very Tom Waits

6. The Misfit
Gisela Stille sings a quiet song - Im just amazed by listening to her.

7. She Handed me a mirror
A great song that suits costellos voice perfectly. It has the same structure as "You turned to me" but is stronger and better. (and i love "You turned to me) 8)

8. He Has forgotten me completely
The highlight - EC sings to begin with and it sounds great. The Gisela Stille enters and it get's even better. The audience seems amazed to and people go "oh my!" "fantastic" when the song ends. I did send shivers down my spine.

9. Red Cotton
EC plays the banjo in this brilliant song that could be an album hit-single. Easy to listen to and it annoys me beyond reason that i might never hear EC sing it again. This should be a single :D

10. The Famous Artificial Bird
EC ends the show with bravour. It's a song that shows how good a singer he is and the lyrics are great. "I recall they offered me a woman in a Parisian hotel / Or maybe it was a brothel or a boy it's hard to tell"
Great way to handle the "H.C. Andersen could have been gay question"

Song 4, 7, and 8 were repeated each night. I find the last 4 songs above average for EC standards which we all know is pretty high :)

Copenhagen fan also showed up and so did ulf. So a pretty good weekend in good company. Maybe it affected me that i've never been to the opera before, but some of these songs were really wonderful. (Which makes me forget about the first ones)


5.
I'm not buying my share of souvenirs

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Who Shot Sam?
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Postby Who Shot Sam? » Sun Oct 09, 2005 12:50 pm

Thanks guys for your reports. Being an opera fan and an EC fan, this sounds like the kind of thing I'd love. What kind of reviews did it get in your local rag?
Mother, Moose-Hunter, Maverick

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VonOfterdingen
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Postby VonOfterdingen » Sun Oct 09, 2005 12:57 pm

Who Shot Sam? wrote:Thanks guys for your reports. Being an opera fan and an EC fan, this sounds like the kind of thing I'd love. What kind of reviews did it get in your local rag?


There haven't been any reviews yet but Ekstra Bladet (the second of the two entertaining but sleazy newspapers in DK) got a teaser that says: "Costello played at the Opera. I didn't help...not at all"

Then again the reviewer Henrik Quitsch is a filmcritic and a bad one :roll:
I'm not buying my share of souvenirs

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Postby johnfoyle » Sun Oct 09, 2005 5:06 pm

Image




As Von tells you The Secret Songs just get better and better wíth each listen. I have loads of notes about each song and look forward to sharing them with you with . I hope to do that after I've seen the final show tomorrow.

This afternoon's show was very different to yesterdays. The Saturday night crowd were older , probably regular opera goers who will go to whatever is on in this hugely expensive new venue. All day in Copenhagen I had watched the younger crowd getting all beered up in anticipation of a international soccer match that was on at the same time as Elvis' show.

This demographic turned out in force for the afternoon show. Poor sales had meant that a general e-mail had gone out on Friday offering half-price tickets to whomever turned up on the day with a printof of the offer. We even met people how had been given free tickets.

Because of a long line to get the cheap tickets the show started 15 minutes late at 3.15. Elvis made pretty much the same intro. comments , Tina Turner joke 'n all. Just like last night he started the show proper in his Barnum guise . Remembering , perhaps , his days on the Kop in Anfield he pranced to the stage edge furiously swinging one of those twirly rattler things. On Saturday it got a round of applause , the older crowd clueing in , perhaps , to the essentially theatrical aspect. This afternoon he added to it by handing out (shades of a famous happening at a London show in 1986 !) banknotes to members of the front row , before tossing a a few notes to the crowd in general.

Perhaps it was a bit too much because it didn't get applause. Maybe the younger crowd were tired after the previous nights excesses . Denmark won or drew ( I can't remember and don't care) so much celebrating ensued. The young lady sitting next to my balcony seat ( I saw the Saturday show from the third row from the stage) blanketed herself with her jacket and slept through most of the show.

Come the shows end they all applauded heartily. No one seemed to voice dismay at the lack of 'Costello Classics'. It was kind of odd coming out of a show into daylight . Van, Ulf and myself had a brief discusssion before we had to go our seperate ways. The musicians Bebe Risenfors and Bent Clausen passed us and were clearly astonished that I wanted their autographs for my programme.

Sorry for the delay in posting but , since I am on holiday , I wanted to do some holiday stuff. That meant going to the movies and having a meal. And yet again , it was a matter of 'It's Elvis Costello's World We Just Live In it' as the movie - Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers (new here , due in the U.K. on Oct.21) - repeatedly featured music I first heard of via Elvis. It was tracks by Mulatu Astatke, from those Ethiopiques albums that Elvis kept selecting from when he used to co-host the Mystery Train on Irish radio back in the 1990's. The movie is excellent , with Bill Murray being even better than he was in Lost In Translation. Another highlight was a very memorable performance by one Alexis Dziena ; I'll say no more - you'll know what I mean when you see it!

Then it was on to a meal at a quayside table , the moored sailing ships quietly rattling in the cool breeze . Some Norwegian salmon and chocolate cake that was an occasion of sin finished of a delightful evening/day. Tomorrow I take a three hour train journey to Aarhus , most of it being along a huge sea bridge that looked spectacular from the air. Needless to say I hope then to have loads more to tell!

ImageImage

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libster
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Postby libster » Sun Oct 09, 2005 6:46 pm

Great reports and photos. Many thanks....
"Eternity stinks, my darling. That's no joke. Don't waste your precious time pretending you're heartbroken..."

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Postby johnfoyle » Mon Oct 10, 2005 1:00 am

http://www.fyens.dk/article/546229

Arier om Andersen
Anmeldelse (4/6 stars)

Rockstjernen Elvis Costello viser nye talenter med en flot operaforestilling om H.C. Andersen

Af Jakob Martini

KONCERTOPFØRELSE: Elvis Costello "The Secret Songs" i Operaen på Holmen i København
Det var en ganske enestående oplevelse at sidde i Danmarks nye operahus i går eftermiddag og høre rockkamæleonen Elvis Costello opføre sin hyldest til H.C. Andersen.

Et musikalsk eksperiment i grænselandet mellem krystalklare popmelodier og komplekse operaarrangementer.

Sammen med sine fire musikere - der spillede på alt fra banjo til piano - og den svenske operasangerinde Gisela Stille opførte Costello 10 arier under titlen "The Secret Songs". Costello selv var scenens absolutte centum. Iført høj sort hat tog han selv rollen som den fynske digter i sangene, der alle tager udgangspunkt i Andersens betagelse af den uopnåelige svenske operadiva Jenny Lind.

Den besynderlige kærlighedshistorie er således også omdrejningspunktet for den kammeropera, som efter planen skal være færdig i løbet af de næste par år.

Der er stadig et stykke vej til den sidste node er skrevet, og på nogle måder virkede gårsdagens koncertopførelse en smule ufærdig. Ikke mindst fordi de 10 nye sange var overstået på en time - det er lidt skrabet, når billetterne koster op til 700 kroner.

Til gengæld var store dele af det, vi fik, tæt på fremragende. Især når det lykkedes Costello at tilføre de kuldegysende melodilinjer, som han er en mester i, til de opfindsomme og snirklede kompositioner.

"He has forgotten me completely", var det melodiske højdepunkt. En storslået arie med et fantastisk omkvæd serveret som en duet, hvor Costellos rockstemme og Gisela Stilles imponerende sopran på elegant vis stod over for hinanden.

Sådan sluttede koncerten så storslået, da Costello og co. gentog den som ekstranummer. Og dermed fik Costello understreget, hvorfor det giver mere end god mening at trække en rockmusiker ind i et operahus.

Elvis Costello: "The Secret Songs" opført i Operaen på Holmen i København lørdag aften og søndag eftermiddag. Den tredje og sidste forestilling er i aften i Musikhuset i Århus.
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http://www.berlingske.dk/grid/kultur/artikel:aid=639450

( maybe Von could log in for the text to this)

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http://www.jp.dk/login?url=kultur/artikel:aid=3312470

Offentliggjort 9. oktober 2005 20:01

Operaen Holmen: SECRET SONGS
Af KNUD KETTING
Operaen Holmen: SECRET SONGS
Elvis Costello
Gentages i aften i Musikhuset Aarhus

Han vandt vor sympati, allerede inden der var løsnet en tone. Den korte velkomsttale afsluttede Elvis Costello nemlig med at forsikre, at ikke så meget som en tone af dette nogensinde havde været sunget af Tina Turner.
Egentlig skulle tæppet så være gået for uropførelsen af hans H.C. Andersen-opera, bestilt af den kongelige operachef, Kasper Bech Holten. Men det er udskudt til næste sæson, for så langt er Costello, tekstforfatter og komponist i én og samme person, endnu ikke nået. I stedet fik vi, hvad operaledelsen kaldte uropførelsen af »en sangcyklus, der i et semidramatisk forløb tolker H.C. Andersens forhold til Jenny Lind«.

Her mødte vi så ikke blot Andersen og Lind, men også en tredje person, den amerikanske impresario P.T. Barnum. Han var den, der stod bag Linds årelange USA-turné, som imidlertid først påbegyndtes, da Andersen ikke længere havde personlig kontakt med hende. Hvordan det så hænger sammen, er ikke sådan at vide ud fra de løsrevne sange og nogle sceniske antydninger. Her havde et handlingsskelet jo gjort underværker. Men et sådan findes måske endnu ikke?


Mere end sangskriver
Man ved jo, blandt andet fra hans symfoniske balletpartitur "Il sogno", at Costellos musikalske håndværk rækker ud over det normale for en sangskriver. Så det er ikke uforståeligt, at en søgende operachef gerne har villet lokke en Andersen-forestilling ud en samtidsmusiker, der lige som eventyrdigteren »arbejder med en unik, skæv, utilpasset kunst af allerhøjeste niveau«. For nu at bruge Bech Holtens egne ord.

( yet again, maybe Van could do the login bit for the rest of this)

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http://www.svd.se/dynamiskt/rec_konsert ... 730634.asp

Publicerat 9 oktober 2005 14:44

Work in progress som kan bli lysande opera

Elvis Costello
Scen: Operaen, Köpenhamn
Genre: Klassiskt


Nästa höst firar Den Kongelige Opera i Köpenhamn 201-årsminnet av H C Andersens födelse med en nyskriven opera av Elvis Costello. Än så länge finns en sångcykel, bestående av de tio centrala ariorna. Den berättar historien om Andersens förälskelse i Jenny Lind och rivaliteten med den amerikanske humbugkungen P T Barnum, som också sökte vinna sångerskans gunst.
Andersen drogs till ouppnåeliga kvinnor; Jenny Lind var den mest ouppnåeliga av alla. En del forskare har förklarat det med att han ville dölja sin homosexualitet, andra har förtigit det. Elvis Costello spekulerar dock inte i någon förklaring, han fascineras i stället av dragningen.

The Secret Songs kallar han sin opera. Tills i lördags var sångerna också hemliga. Inte ens Tina Turner har sjungit dem, som Elvis Costello själv sa när han tillsammans med svenska sopranen Gisela Stille, slagverkaren Bent Clausen, blåsaren och basisten Bebe Risenfors, cellisten Amit Sen och gamle parhästen, pianisten Steve Nieve presenterade sångerna i en konsertversion på Operaen.
Elvis Costello har alltid varit en skicklig kompositör, från de tidiga popdängorna (genom tidens vårdslösa gång alltför ofta kallade punk) över samarbetet med Brodskykvartetten, jazzgitarristen Bill Frisell, Anne Sofie von Otter och Burt Bacharach till de sånger han skrivit med Diana Krall. Elvis Costello har även komponerat balettmusik. Att han nu tar steget över till opera är inte särskilt förvånande.

Naturligtvis har det hela karaktären av ett work-in-progress, även om scenografin förankrar framförandet i berättelsens 1800-tal. Det gör ingenting. Sällan har vi sett kompositionsprocessen så blottlagd, som när Gisela Stille suveränt brottar ner de tekniska svårigheterna i The Misfit, där Liverpools hamn 1850 utgör scenbilden. Eller när Elvis Costello själv, trots sina begränsade vokala resurser, ger en klar bild av hur det kommer att låta när skolade sångare tar sig an Andersens och Barnums roller. Eller när Steve Nieve med sitt breda pianospel ger en föreställning om hur pampiga orkesterpartierna kommer att bli.
Konsertens karaktär av work-in-progress gör det också lättare att acceptera att Costellos röst ibland spricker. Vi hör inte en konsert med Elvis Costello, vi ser honom demonstrera materialet till en opera.

Det kan bli en lysande sådan. Costello har skrivit en serie skimrande melodier. Som den drivne pastischör han är, drar han sig inte heller för att renodla känslo- och uttryckslägen. När Barnum presenterar sina attraktioner i American Humbug (Jenny Lind likaväl som George Washingtons hundrasextioettåriga slavinna) är stämningen uppsluppen, en fantastisk operavaudeville. När Costello ikläder sig Andersens rock, pendlar han mellan drömska och melankoliska, ibland gråtmilda stämningar. Jenny Linds partier är bitvis svindlande vackra, och de utvecklas än mer genom det nära samarbetet mellan Costello och Stille.
Själv fascineras jag också av brytningarna mellan Costellos spruckna röst och Gisela Stilles utsökta sopran.

MAGNUS ERIKSSON
Kultur Nöje
kultur@svd.se

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A Spanish review

http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/309380.html

Debuta Elvis Costello en la ópera

Presenta el británico en el Teatro Real de Copenhague The secret songs, una obra que aborda la relación entre el escritor Hans Christian Andersen y la soprano Jenny Lind


EFE
El Universal online
Copenhague, Dinamarca
Domingo 9 de octubre de 2005

12:49 Una obra que conjuga música clásica con pop, blue-grass y music-hall y que aborda la relación entre el escritor Hans Christian Andersen y la soprano Jenny Lind: así es el debut del músico británico Elvis Costello en el mundo de la ópera.
The secret songs es el resultado de un encargo del Teatro Real de Copenhague, incluido en el programa de actividades del bicentenario del célebre escritor, que ayer y hoy se presentó en la nueva ópera de la capital danesa y que el miércoles cerrará su primera gira en Aarhus.


Lo que Costello ofrece, y que ya ha cosechado un notable éxito de público, es un esbozo de la ópera de cámara definitiva que estrenará la próxima temporada y que no ha podido terminar a tiempo para este año, una muestra de diez canciones que ocupan poco más de una hora y que suponen el esqueleto central de la obra.


En esta versión provisional, él mismo interpreta el papel de Andersen y del empresario P.T. Barnum -la soprano sueca Gisela Stille hace de Lind-, canta y toca la guitarra acústica y el banjo, aunque se supone que en la obra final no estará en la escena, al menos no como actor.


A lo largo de un cuarto de siglo de carrera musical, Costello ha construido una trayectoria muy personal en la que ha evolucionado desde el punk-rock hasta abarcar múltiples estilos, como muestran sus colaboraciones con gente tan diversa como Burt Bacharach, el Brodsky Quartet o la mezzosoprano Anne Sofie von Otter.


Y ese amplio abanico de influencias está presente en The other songs, donde le acompaña un brillante cuarteto formado por el pianista Steve Nieve, un habitual colaborador suyo, el percusionista Bent Clausen, el violoncellista Amit Sen y el multiinstrumentista Bebe Risenfors.


Costello se basa en la enorme fascinación que el escritor danés sintió por Lind, al igual que por otros hombres y mujeres, para imaginar un supuesto repertorio de canciones secretas que Andersen dedicó a la soprano, la única licencia artística que el autor se ha permitido con respecto a la historia.


A través de ellas, discurren episodios de la vida del autor danés y de sus obras, aderezados por el contrapunto irónico que supone la figura de Barnam, el empresario y estafador que en 1850 llevó al "ruiseñor sueco", como era conocida Jenny Lind, de gira por Estados Unidos.


La inclusión del personaje de Barnam -donde Costello demuestra unas notables dotes teatrales-, que gira con Lind por el país, le vale para introducir también pasajes humorísticos y justificar la inclusión de números claramente deudores del music-hall o del blue-grass, entre piezas de carácter más intimista.


Y la obra, tal como la ha presentado Costello, funciona gracias a la calidad de su música y a que no cae en obviedades o en los tópicos más recurrentes sobre Andersen, a pesar de un escenario austero donde, aparte de los músicos, apenas hay un escritorio, una mesa con un teatro de juguete y una tribuna.


Al público, desde luego, le convenció tanto que hubo dos bises del repertorio que, como Costello juró sobre el escenario, "jamás ha sido interpretado antes por Tina Turner", quizás ironizando sobre la polémica creada en Dinamarca por la astronómica cifra que la cantante cobró por cantar en play-back en un espectáculo sobre Andersen.


vgt

Google trans.

Secret makes debut Elvis Costello in the opera Presents/displays the Briton in the Real Theater of Copenhagen

The songs, a work that the relation between the writer Hans Christian Andersen and the soprano Jenny Universal Lind EFE

Copenhagen, Denmark Domingo 9 of October of a 2005 12:49 work that conjugates classic music with pop, blue-grass and music-hall and that the relation between the writer Hans Christian Andersen and the soprano Jenny Lind approaches: thus it is the debut of the British musician Elvis Costello in the world of the opera.


The secret songs is the result of an order of the Real Theater of Copenhagen, including in the program of activities of the bicentennial of the famous writer, who appeared yesterday and today in the new opera of the Danish capital and that Wednesday will close his first tour in Aarhus. What Costello offers, and that already has harvested a remarkable success of public, it is an outline of the opera of definitive camera that will release the next season and that has not been able to finish on time for this year, a sample of ten songs that occupy little more than one hour and that suppose the central skeleton of the work.


In this provisional version, he himself interprets the paper of Andersen and of industralist P.T. Barnum - the Swedish soprano Gisela Stille for of Lind -, he sings and he touches to the acoustic guitar and the banjo, although he assumes that in the final work he will not be in the scene, at least not like actor. Throughout a quarter of century of musical race, Costello has constructed a very personal trajectory in which it has evolved from the punk-rock to including manifold styles, as they show his collaborations with as diverse people as Burt Bacharach, the Brodsky Quartet or the mezzosoprano Anne Sofie von Otter.

And that ample fan of influences is present in The to other songs, where it accompanies a shining quartet formed by the pianista Steve Snow, a habitual collaborator his, the percusionista Bent Clausen, the violoncellista Amit Sen and multiinstrumentalist Bebe to him Risenfors. Costello is based on the enormous fascination that the Danish writer felt by Lind, like by other men and women, to imagine a supposed repertoire of secret songs that Andersen dedicated to the soprano, the only artistic license that the author has allowed itself with respect to history.

Through them, episodes of the life of the Danish author and his works, decorated by the ironic counterpoint that the figure of Barnam supposes, the industralist and swindler run who in 1850 took to the "Swedish ruiseñor", like was well-known Jenny Lind, of tour by the United States. The inclusion of the personage of Barnam - where Costello demonstrates remarkable theater dowries -, that turns with Lind by the country, is worth to him to also introduce humoristic passages and to justify the inclusion of clearly indebted numbers of the music-hall or blue-grass, between pieces of more intimist character.

And the work, as it has presented/displayed it Costello, works thanks to the quality of its music and to that it does not fall in obviedades or the most recurrent topics on Andersen, in spite of an austere scene where, aside from the musicians, as soon as is a writing-desk, a table with a toy theater and a tribune. To the public, of course, it convinced so much perhaps to him that were two you encore of the repertoire that, as Costello swore on the scene, "has never been interpreted before by Turner Bathtub", ironizando on the controversy created in Denmark by the astronomical number that the singer received to sing in play-back in a spectacle on Andersen.

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VonOfterdingen
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Postby VonOfterdingen » Mon Oct 10, 2005 3:39 am

I'll try and translate them tonight. In general the critics like/love the songs but think of the setup as a strange unfinished thing.

I think they are right about that, but to me the songs were by far the most important thing, so there you go :)
I'm not buying my share of souvenirs

johnfoyle
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Postby johnfoyle » Mon Oct 10, 2005 11:58 am

Hi from Aarhus , just about an hour before Elvis takes the stage here. My hotel is just next to the venue. They are certainly being understated in selling the show locally. After an afternoon walking the town I didn't see one sign/poster/whatever. This included the venue itself. I took the precaution of asking at the box office if it was still on , to be assured it is .

More later!

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Postby johnfoyle » Mon Oct 10, 2005 4:32 pm

Image

..............and so it ends. The same show , the same reprises.

The venue was a little smaller, and only about half full. It was a mostly older crowd. Starting at 7.30 it was all over by 9. Coming out of the venue I looked down the steps to the stage door and saw someone standing there , having a smoke. It was Steve Nieve . I went down and greeted him. Shaking hands I complimented him on the show . I asked him to thank Elvis , and to also thank Elvis for giving me cause to come and visit this great country. We talked about his ongoing project , how it was nearly finished and I said I looked forward to hearing it. I mentioned my name and he said he remembered the post I recently put on his site. He finished his smoke and we exchanged parting compliments.

And then it was back to my hotel for some more amazing cuisine. Chicken soup with prawns in it! Veal that just melted in the mouth! Liqourice ice cream with berries! A dry white wine - Australian , I think- that was just a dream!

Which is a long-winded way of saying that I'm in no fit state to post specific comments on The Secret Songs . Let me sleep on it. I'll have a few hours stop-over in Stansted tomorrow to let you know all the gory details.

By the way , Ms Krall was at the show. Ten minutes before curtain-up she appeared , dressed in black,out of a stage side door and walked up the side aisle accompanied by a woman. No one spotted her or greeted her. She looked straight ahead , with a set look on her face.
Last edited by johnfoyle on Tue Oct 11, 2005 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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John
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Postby John » Mon Oct 10, 2005 5:01 pm

Wonderful reports, John.
Thanks for sharing all the details with us.

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Postby martinfoyle » Tue Oct 11, 2005 6:42 am

Last nights show is being torrented here.

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Postby scielle » Tue Oct 11, 2005 8:24 am

The Secret Arias, Opera House, Copenhagen
By Joanne Watson
Published: 11 October 2005
3/5 stars

This year marks the bicentenary of the birth of one of Denmark's national icons, Hans Christian Andersen, so it's no surprise that the National Opera would wish to commission a work to celebrate the occasion in their brand new house. What is unusual is that their chosen composer is not Danish or has any operatic pedigree - it's Elvis Costello.

The Secret Songs is, in reality, a snapshot of a work in progress, with the finished opera not scheduled for performance until the spring of 2007. What Costello presents is a 70-minute song cycle with 10 numbers that will form the backbone of the full-length piece.

Costello discovered classical music in the late Eighties, and has been a regular listener and writer for the genre since, including notable collaborations with the Brodsky Quartet, Anne Sophie von Otter and, most recently, a ballet score. With Andersen, he has a wealth of material to play with and he's latched on to the relationship with Jenny Lind, the Swedish Soprano, who, for a brief time, was the subject of his unrequited affections. They shared a similarly impoverished background and had a talent that projected them on to a world stage. Costello's story centres on her famous tour to the US, masterminded by the impresario P T Barnum, with Andersen musing on her endeavours and writing secret songs that he hopes she will sing, and reflecting, on his death bed, about his nightingale.

The work was partially staged with giant captions denoting time and place accompanying grainy projected images, but Costello doesn't go much for on-stage characterisation in the his roles: it's Barnum with top hat, and Andersen without, and it's left to Swedish soprano Gisela Stille, in the part of Lind, to do the acting. Vocally, Costello has tried to develop a different musical thread for all three parts, but the ear-catching music comes in the more operatic numbers he has written for Lind, requiring Stille to use her classical technique to carry them off, thankfully without mic. And in "He Has Forgotten Me Completely", a haunting piece sung with style, and with a hallmark Costello continuo of keyboards and cello, he has a cracker.

Costello's libretto is beautifully crafted and intense, and the work, performed in English, is one that bears study. Asked if it had whetted his appetite to write more opera, he was typically candid: "It's whetted my appetite to write this one." The Secret Songs is no ugly duckling, but only time will tell if it will develop into a beautiful swan.
Last edited by scielle on Tue Oct 11, 2005 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Who Shot Sam? » Tue Oct 11, 2005 8:28 am

Thanks scielle. Where did you find that?
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Postby scielle » Tue Oct 11, 2005 8:36 am

Factiva.
You generally need an account with them, but I get it as a freebie via school (well, several K$ worth of a freebie, actually...)

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Postby verbal gymnastics » Tue Oct 11, 2005 9:35 am

scielle scielle why why is is the the article article written written twice twice??

Thanks for posting it.
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Postby scielle » Tue Oct 11, 2005 11:06 am

Um... still sleeping off the Thanksgiving wine?

Sorry. Is corrected.

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Postby verbal gymnastics » Tue Oct 11, 2005 11:07 am

My post is going to look silly now!
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Postby martinfoyle » Tue Oct 11, 2005 12:38 pm

Who Shot Sam? wrote:Thanks scielle. Where did you find that?


It's from todays Independant.

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Postby Who Shot Sam? » Tue Oct 11, 2005 12:39 pm

martinfoyle wrote:
Who Shot Sam? wrote:Thanks scielle. Where did you find that?


It's from todays Independant.


Thanks Martin.
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Postby johnfoyle » Tue Oct 11, 2005 3:04 pm

So I arrive back in rainy , murky Dublin and the first thing Martin gives me is a a double disc of last nights show , just downloaded from that torrent. Excellent!

Here are some thoughts on the shows , starting with details of each song . I've had to group together some of Bebe Risenfors and Bent Clausen contributions because they regularly played more than one instrument , hopping from one to the other and it was difficult to keep up with them!

Performers:
Elvis Costello
Gisela Stille
Steve Nieve
Bebe Risenfors
Amit Sen
Bent Clausen



American Humbug

E.C. Vocals ,acoustic guitar
S.N. Upright piano , grand piano
A.S. Cello
B.R./B.C. Banjo , tuba

My Toy Theatre

E.C. Vocals , acoustic guitar
S.N. Grand piano
A.S. Cello
B.R./B.C. Vibraphone , saxophone , double bass

Illustrated Lady

E.C. Vocals
S.N. Grand piano
A.S. Cello
B.R./B.C. Vibraphone , tuba

How Deep Is The Red

G.S. Vocals
S.N. Grand piano
A.S. Cello

She Was No Good

E.C. Vocals , acoustic guitar , ukulele
S.N. Grand piano
A.S. Cello
B.R./B.C. Banjo

The Misfit

G.S. Vocal
S.N. Grand piano
E.C. Upright piano
B.R. Vibraphone

She handed Me a Mirror

E.C. Vocals , electric guitar
S.N. Grand piano , keyboards
A.S. Cello
B.R./B.C. Saxophone, double bass , vibraphone


He Has Forgotten Me Completely

E.C. Vocals
G.S. Vocals
S.N. Grand piano
A.S. Cello
B.R. Vibraphone


Red Cotton

E.C. Vocals , banjo
S.N. Grand piano , keyboards

The Famous Artificial Bird

E.C. Vocals , ukulele
S.N. Grand piano , keyboards
B.R./B.C. Saxophone, double bass, cello , vibraphone

There was also what sounded like a Theremin every now and then. It was either played by Bebe Risenfors ( probably with his foot while he played the vibes - he is so talented!) or was a keyboard effect by Steve Nieve.

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The Secret Songs are, primarily, songs. And very good songs at that. Elvis may never sing then again - something he probably knew when he wrote them and something he probably wants. He was given a theme, he wrote some songs in the way he knows best and , repeatedly telling us it is work-in-progress , presented them over the past few days.

So we should disregard all the elements of this presentation .The silly costume, the anachronistic backdrops , the bad acting and some confusing transitions. There is also the rather puzzling relevance of one of the central elements, the use of the P.T. Barnum character. In the show presented there is just not enough evidence to show why he was so important to the Anderson/Lind relationship.

The costume and bad acting can be excused in that Elvis realised, correctly, that they bring a comedic element, helping keep the audiences amused and, crucially, their attention. The puzzling transitions are when he goes from the Barnum to Anderson guises. Hearing the same voice, it can take a while to be sure which one he is adopting. A finished production would solve this by, obviously, casting physically different actors.

The relevance of the Barnum character will, hopefully, be justified by the finished production. If for nothing else it would be because Elvis has written him some great songs.

So, to the songs. Having heard them so repeatedly over a few days it is easy to see which are the better. Elvis must have seen so also in that they are the same three songs that were reprised each night. Indeed this measure is an indicator of how much of a work in progress this is.

At the start of last week it was said that the show would include some 'Costello Classics' i.e. some old songs. Some listings said it would last two hours. Presuming that Elvis went into rehearsals with the 10 songs - lasting roughly 70 minutes - that indicates a few things. He was being cautious about the quality of the songs and the possibility of a hostile reaction to merely presenting them, imperfect as they may have thought them, alone. Therefore he was going to do some old songs to satisfy the audience, hoping that it might make the evenings entertainment more acceptable.


The rehearsal process must have changed his mind. In the hands of the Copenhagen musicians he got to see how good most of the songs are. Presenting them with a distracting and, potentially, overwhelming dollop of past glories would just not do the new songs justice.

The reprised songs were How Deep Is The Red, She Handed Me A Mirror and He has Forgotten Me Completely. Interestingly they are all songs involving the Lind/Anderson characters. In the second and third shows Elvis went through the motions of asking the audience if, just like Anderson once did , they wanted to decide how the show ended.
They could have a Anderson or Barnum song. Luckily (!) they went for a Anderson song, though Elvis did make a remark about how he expected that since he was in Denmark. It might also indicate that Elvis is not sure how relevant Barnum is too the whole show.

How Deep Is The Red is an astonishing song. It is also entirely suited to a female vocalist. As Elvis joked on Sunday, he betted we were glad he had spared us his rendition of it. Giselle Stille adopted a pose of barely restrained hysteria mixed with bafflement and delivers one of Elvis' sweetest tunes. She Handed Me a Mirror shares a similar feature of simple but effective phrasing. Both songs are expressions of feelings about aspects of relationships and, eventually, will be judged as examples of some of Elvis' best songwriting. I could start quoting chunks of lyrics but , really , the songs just have to be heard in full for best effect.

He Has Forgotten Me Completely is maddeningly catchy, even though, as presented by Elvis, it features very clumsy phrasing in the middle as a bridging device. At all three – six including the reprises - renditions there were nervous giggles from the audience. Elvis probably realises this, knowing that a suitably skilled performer can present it better , making it more real. The work-in-progress aspect is apparent again in that all renditions were slightly different. Gisela came from different sides of the stage, Elvis paused longer in his reactions and , in the final reprise version Ms Stille goes down in a crouch to emphasise her last few lines.

So much for the reprises - the other songs had points of interest. American Humbug kept reminding me of songs from Spike, helped by the tuba playing and the listing of things just like Stalin Malone. She Was No Good is a particularly jolly song. Again Spike came to mind, bringing to mind that album's alternate title The Beloved Entertainer. Which was what, of course, Barnum was all about. All the musicians roar at the line 'And several players run amok', just like in the Costello/Chieftains recording of the Stephens Day Murders. By the third performance Elvis was really hamming it up. Before singing a quote from Barnum's wife on the subject of the opera he paused, stood away from the King Of Humbug central lectern and gargled water from a tall glass. Indeed the quote (‘unnatural screeching' etc) is interesting in it's inclusion, Elvis possibly having a dig at the references to his having written an opera.

Red Cotton is another powerful song. The programme says that 'Barnum enters cutting a piece of fabric with a large pair of dressmakers scissors '. Yet again this must have been judged, in rehearsal, to be to distracting. Merely stating the act suffices, allowing extra emphasis on one of Elvis' sharpest (sorry!) lyrics. Dealing with British naval traditions, including slavery etc., the song is laden with evocative images. He also uses the word 'cetacean', surely a first in his songs. The Famous Artificial Bird had me immediately thinking of Nick Lowe, not entirely redundant considering how both he and Barnum were/are so steeped in show business traditions.


The shows just got better and better. The last was the best , Elvis 'n co. really settling into the songs. It was also the best audience , really responding to the show and they were only one to give it a standing ovation. I will be very interested in seeing the finished show.



It was a great trip . Good music , good food , good company and a great country . I can't wait to go back!

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Postby charliestumpy » Wed Oct 12, 2005 3:51 am

Whilst appreciating the bravery/fortitude of all concerned, what I have heard so far by a chap whose adventure/riskiness/ability I have respected since 1977 is undoubtedly appalling/deserving of never being heard again.

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Postby verbal gymnastics » Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:16 am

I'm not altogether surprised the last show was the best John. As shows/works progress they should become better. That's why I thought the Live In Memphis DVD was a good opportunity wasted.

Thanks for the reports of the new songs. And are you sure Elvis' acting was deliberately bad? :lol:
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Postby VonOfterdingen » Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:16 am

martinfoyle wrote:Last nights show is being torrented here.


Ohh , that makes me happy :D

Now i've read three reviews where they believe that Gisela Stille sang without a mic. They are wrong - she had a small skin-colored mic attached to her right ear.

The Århus show sounds great, John!
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Postby johnfoyle » Wed Oct 12, 2005 3:41 pm

Here's an ad. I scanned from a Aarhus 'paper I got on Monday -

Image

Here's how the same 'paper review the show -


http://www.stiften-aarhus.dk/apps/pbcs. ... 3180330190




Der var engang en H.C. Andersen og en Elvis med en halv opera


KONCERT:
Costello triumferede med sine opdigtede H.C. Andersen-breve i Musikhuset

Af Uffe Normand
kultur@stiften.dk

Der var engang en H.C. Andersen. Der var også en Elvis. Ja, faktisk har den rytmiske verden stadig en Elvis - med efternavnet Costello. Den britiske sanger og sangskriver fremførte i aftes i Musikhuset sine 10 nye sange, der er lavet på hemmelige (men af Costello opdigtede) breve fra H.C. Andersen til dennes ugengældte kærlighed, den svenske sangerinde Jenny Lind. Det er disse breve, der har givet operaen navn - "The Secret Songs Of Hans Christian Andersen".

- Opera?

Ja. Endda en kammeropera. Nok mindede det, der skete på scenen, (og det var faktisk ingenting udover musik) ikke ret meget om en opera. Snarere om en almindelig koncert, der var tilsat nogle få rekvisitter. Og lad os så bare se bort fra det komiske i, at der på H.C. Andersens skrivebord foruden den obligatoriske gåsefjer også var en elektrisk læselampe årgang 1960. Men lad nu det være.

Arbejdende værksted
For det kunne ikke overskygge, at det blev en ganske særlig aften i Musikhuset. Forestillingen, der er bestilt af Det Kgl. Teater i København som en kammeropera i anledning af H.C. Andersen-året, er endnu ikke helt færdig, og det var måske medvirkende til, at oplevelsen blev ganske intens - som et kig ind i en stor kunstners arbejdende værksted, hvor stjernen enkelte gange måtte støtte sig til papiret med de lange sangtekster.

"The Secret Songs" blev i weekenden spillet to gange i operaen i hovedstaden, så det var i aftes først tredje gang, de hemmelige sange blev luftet.

Scenografisk skete der ikke andet, end at Elvis Costello, der til anledningen var klædt moderigtigt anno 1870, skiftede mellem sine to roller, og at den svenske sopran Gisela Stille ind imellem kom på scenen for at synge partiet som Jenny Lind.

Sammen gav de "He Has Forgotten Me Completly" - en eventyrlig duet. For hold da op, hvor en sopran. Gisela Stille fra Det Kgl. Teater tog uden besvær, men med megen indlevelse, de høje C'er - de høje Castelloer, mens Elvis Costello til fulde klarede sig med sine lidt nasale, løse, uskolede og karakteristiske popstemme, der er bedst når den synges igennem.

Heldigvis komponerer han sådan, at hans stemme tit udfordres til sit maksimale, hvor den er bedst. Sangermæssigt er det Knold og Tot at sammenligne de to genre-repræsentanter.

Kald det, hvad I vil
Men det var tydeligt at se, at sangerinden fra Det Kgl. Teater har meget mere rolleerfaring end Elvis Costello. Hun vidste, hvordan hun med små bevægelser med fingrene og nøje afmålt kiggen mellem publikum og medspilleren på scenen kunne understrege sin rolle, mens Elvis Costello, når han da ikke sad ved skrivebordet eller stod bag en kasse og spillede på guitar, listede mere tilfældigt og planløst rundt.

I en opera skal der foruden sange også være noget skuespil - noget dramaturgi.

Men kald det hvad I vil. Opera var der ikke meget af, men som sange fungerede de 10 breve perfekt. Tre af dem fik vi igen som ekstranumre, og faktisk var de bedre anden gang, hvor publikum ligesom havde fået dem fordøjet og forstået.

Elvis Costello har nok engang skrevet nogle fantastisk fine og komplicerede popsange. "The Secret Songs" bæres af historien om Jenny Lind, der nares til USA af den amerikansk impresario, cirkusmand og fidusmager P.T. Barnum. Her digter Elvis Costello så, at H.C. Andersen skriver hemmelige breve til den svenske nattergal, og det er da ok med noget kunstnerisk frihed.

Ene nye sange
I "The Secret Songs" synger Elvis Castello selv partierne som Barnum og Andersen.

Forud for koncerten i aftes var det annonceret, at Elvis Costello først ville spille nogle gamle sange og efter en kort pause tage "The Secret Songs". Men efter prøveforløbet i København erfarede Costello, at de nye sange sagtens tåler at stå alene. så vi fik ét lang sæt af 75 minutter, der udelukkende bød på de nye sange, og så de tre ekstranumre, som publikum til dels fik lov at vælge.

Og Elvis Costello, der i sin introduktion havde kaldt H.C. Andersen for en litterær anarkist, har ret. Sangene behøver ikke andet selskab end sit eget, men opera - det er det nu ikke.

PS: I øvrigt er det lidt mærkeligt, at man gentagne gange ude i byen hører, at der kommer for få verdensnavne til de århusianske musikscener. Og når der så er én, ja så er Musikhuset kun halvt fyldt!!

udgivet 11. Oktober 2005 | 12:00


Jens Klüver, kapelmester: - Jeg har aldrig været til Costello-koncert før. Faktisk mopper de mig i bigbandet, fordi der er så mange fra rock- og popscenen, jeg ikke kender. Nu var chancen der så for Costello, og jeg vidste på forhånd ikke, hvad jeg skulle forvente. Men det var en stor oplevelse, skønt at høre en operasangerinde blive brugt på den måde. Det var godt at høre nogle af sangene to gange, for anden gang vidste man, hvad de handlede om, og hvor de skulle bære forestillingen hen. Dejlig aften, jeg kommer gerne igen, men vil ikke give stjerner, når jeg nu ikke kender Elvis Costello for andet end denne aften.

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Von - do they like it or not?


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