Posts Tagged ‘Kristina’

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”


Kristina in New York

23 August, 2009

KristinaOne month from today the Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaues masterpiece musical Kristina från Duvamåla makes its English-language debut in New York.

Kristina – A Concert Event will be held on the evenings of September 23 and 24 at the prestigious Carnegie Hall. The English version has been a long time coming. There has been talk that the translation was completed and presented to potential backers as long ago as the Broadway premiere of Mamma Mia! in 2001.

A workshop was held in New York a few years ago, and the musical was then presented to potential financial backers, whose declined to finance the show citing that “sad doesn’t sell’. Hopefully this concert version will introduce Kristina to the world and see an eventual full English production.

The concert stars Helen Sjöholm reprising her role as Kristina, British singer Russell Watson as Karl Oskar, Canadian Louise Pitre (who originated Donna in Mamma Mia! in North America) as Ulrika, Broadway star Kevin Oderkirk as Robert, and a supporting cast of musical theatre veterans.

Presumably composers Andersson and Ulvaeus will be attending.

ABBA fans, and no doubt fans of the musical and the stars, will be making their way to New York in the hundreds. I’m excited that I too will be there for this auspicous event, along with many friends from around the world, including at least eight making the trek all the way from Australia.

For more information, full cast list and links to buy tickets go to Kristina – A Concert Event at Carnegie Hall.

For all the news on Benny and Björn’s projects see icethesite.

Thank You For The Music: A Celebration of the Music of ABBA (updated)

25 July, 2009

BBC Radio 2 is presenting Thank You For The Music: A Celebration of the Music of ABBA in London’s Hyde Park on Sunday 13 September 2009.

The concert promises “an array of stars” performing the songs of ABBA plus songs from Benny and Björn’s “recent offerings in musical theatre and folk”.

Performers announced so far include Elaine Paige, Lulu, Jason Donovan, Russell Watson, Helen Sjöholm with the Benny Andersson Band, “original ABBA musicians”, and the cast of Mamma Mia! (presumably the current London cast). John Barrowman is another name that has been mentioned, and apparently Annie Lennox has been approached.

Benny has said that he and Björn will be performing (“if you can call what Björn does performing” as Benny quipped on the Jonathan Ross Show on July 3rd when announcing this concert). What’s not clear is what that means – one song, the whole concert or something in between. I suspect it’s more likely just a song or two.

Rumour and speculation are rife that Frida and Agnetha should appear. Which doesn’t seem likely.

The concert is associated with the annual BBC Proms series, which conjures up scary images of rampant flag waving and “Rule Britannia”! Will this concert be like that? I guess we will learn more as the date grows closer.

UPDATE 6 August: apparently Russell Watson and Helen Sjöholm won’t be taking part in this concert as they will be rehearsing for Kristina – A Concert Eventat Carnegie Hall in New York on September 23rd and 24th. Sharleen Spiteri and The Feeling have been added to the list of performers.

Thanks to icethesite for additional information.

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