Archive for October, 2009

Mamma Mia!

31 October, 2009

Thank you for the music: Fan-club members (clockwise from rear left) Mark, Ian, Gary, Jason, Louise, Sandra and DavidToday’s Daily Telegraph newspaper (Sydney, not UK) featured an article about ABBA fans getting together to celebrate ABBA in the lead up to Mamma Mia! returning to Sydney.

I was there (back row, second from the left) with friends Mark, Cotton, David, Sandra, Louise, Gary and Jason. It was a fun night at the Gourmet Viking Scandinavian restaurant in Enmore. Some brought along their old memorabilia to inspire conversation. You can see some of it in the photo.

The article was great, and thankfully didn’t make us look like a bunch of loner freaks who live in the past. Some great stories were shared – a shame that not everything could have appeared in the article, though some really good stuff did. Modesty restrains me from saying what it says about me ;-), though it does mention my recent trip to New York for Kristina.

Thanks JP, Alex and Katrina.

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Weekly ABBA show on Australian radio

21 October, 2009

For a few years Canberra community radio station 2XX has hosted a weekly ABBA radio show, GimmeGimmeGimme – There’s more to ABBA than you think.

Last week I tuned in to listen online for the first time. It was  lot of fun! The theme for this show was “Pick on ABBA”, playing some of those less classic moments in the ABBA catalogue. After a call out to me and ABBA World by Luke, one of the hosts (and an old friend), I rang to say hi and before I knew it I was on air, talking about the website and my recent trip to New York for Kristina. Tuning in might become a regular feature of my Sunday afternoons. 

GimmeGimmeGimme is on every Sunday between 5-6 pm Australian Eastern Time (06.00 GMT). Tune in to 2XX fm 98.3 in Canberra or listen online here.

ABBA and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

17 October, 2009

On September 23 it was announced that ABBA is among the nominees for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

ABBA has been nominated once before, in 2003. Artists are eligible for nomination 25 years after their first record release, which made ABBA eligible since 1997.

Discussion (unsurprisingly) has been rampant in ABBA fan communities, which can be broken down into two camps:

Those who see it as an honour that ABBA is even considered. ABBA won very few awards during its time together, so to be recognised now by the music industry is honourable.

Those who think that ABBA don’t need this sort of recognition, that phenomenal record sales and enduring popularity are reward enough, and that ABBA isn’t “rock and roll” enough to be part of this hall of fame.

There is a subset of the first group that sees induction as the opportunity for an “ABBA reunion”, assuming that ABBA will only be inducted if all four turn up and perform at the traditional jam session that ends the induction ceremony. But not all inductees are present for induction. Perhaps most famously Paul McCartney was a no-show when The Beatles were inducted in 1988.

Should ABBA be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? It certainly wouldn’t hurt the band’s credibility. But at the same time it doesn’t really matter that they’re not.

Fans are invited to comment on the nominees here.

Kristina at Carnegie Hall

4 October, 2009

Last week I travelled to New York for Kristina – A Concert Event at Carnegie Hall, the English language premiere of Benny and Björn’s 1995 masterpiece Kristina från Duvemåla.

Kristina in English has been a long time coming. When Mamma Mia! opened on Broadway in October 2001 there was talk that a draft translation was ready for presentation then. In 2006 a workshop was held with a hope for a full production within a couple of years, however it was not to be as prospective financial backers at the time declared “sad doesn’t sell”.

So finally Kristina has been presented to New York in concert form. The concert starred Swede Helen Sjöholm, who originated the role of Kristina, British tenor Russell Watson as her husband Karl Oskar, Louise Pitre, who originated Donna in Mamma Mia!in North America, as Ulrika the reformed whore, and Broadway star Kevin Odekirk (Les Miserables) as Karl Oskar’s brother Robert.

Kristina tells the story of Karl Oskar and Kristina who, after hardship and famine in Sweden, emigrate to America with family and friends, some of whom are escaping religious persecution. It is based on the Vilhelm Moberg series of novels The Emigrants (Utvandrarna).

English versions of several songs have been heard over the years, but this is the final version that may one day see a full stage production. Lyricist Herbert Kretzmer, who worked on the translation of the French musical Les Miserables, contributed his expertise to the English lyrics.

As a non-Swedish speaker I have long enjoyed the music and had an understanding of the story, but not of the actual lyrics. Unofficial translations have been around on the internet for many years. Finally I, and other English speakers, could enjoy the whole show. The English lyrics are a success, in some cases greatly different from the Swedish versions but changed for the better with the new language. Though cut down from the source novels and cut down further from the Swedish stage version, the major story elements remain intact.

The concert was well received, with Helen Sjöholm receiving a standing ovation for her act two showstopper ‘You Have To Be There’ (Du måste finnas), and another standing ovation for the curtain calls. Over the following days the show received mostly positive reviews in newspapers and theatre websites.

In the photo above I’m in the third row, in front of Kevin Odekirk.

Kristina was recorded for future CD release. Hopefully we won’t have to wait a year, as we did with the 2008 Chess in Concert.

See more first hand reviews @ icethesite.

New York Post blog posts by Elisabeth Vincentelli:
The road to ‘Kristina’ 
Chatting with “Kristina” director Lars Rudolfsson
Benny and Björn on ‘Kristina’
Benny and Björn talk influences
Louise Pitre on her Carnegie Hall debut
Kristina on “Kristina”

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