Hans Abrahamsen’s opera The Snow Queen premieres in Copenhagen

Hans Abrahamsen’s opera The Snow Queen premieres in Copenhagen
With permission from Odense City Museums
On October 13 Hans Abrahamsen’s opera The Snow Queen will receive its world premiere at The Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is the first opera by the prominent Danish composer whose music has received a great number of awards and is being played around the world. The Snow Queen is an adaptation by librettist Henrik Engelbrecht of Hans Christian Andersen’s dark and intense fairy tale about the two children Kay and Gerda. In the story, Kay gets a fragment of a cursed mirror in his eye. His heart freezes to ice, and everything that used to be beautiful, he can no longer see. Kay is spellbound by the evil snow queen, who takes him to her ice castle far to the north. Gerda knows that Kay is in danger, and she must embark on a perilous journey to save him.
The premiere production is directed by award-winning stage director Francisco Negrin, with soprano Sofie Elkjær Jensen in the leading role of Gerda, mezzo-soprano Melis Jaatinen as Kay and bass-baritone Johan Reuter as the snow queen. Robert Houssart conducts.
Director Francisco Negrin explains his ideas behind the production: “Reading the original story of Hans Christian Andersen, it can be quite abstract and surreal. I am only working with one possible interpretation of it. I really want to make it a magical experience for the audience – it is a very visual, choreographic, entertaining, magical experience more than it is a psychological study or an intellectual exercise. You will be transported into a fantasy world and see things you have never experienced before.
I see two central themes in the story: One is about life being an initiation - about the aging process and what you learn from it. The story is structured from childhood to adulthood, where Kay and Gerda learn to love. The other is how we as humans exist in this extremely mathematical, abstract, amazing, cold universe, that has laws we do not understand. And how being human is the opposite of it: Love and warmth and caring. It is about the human love and emotion versus the cold perfection of the universe. The two oppositions are e.g. mirrored in the design where we, inspired by the mathematics in nature, have designed the set completely through mathematical formulas. The other aspect, the warm and organic, is shown in flowers and wood and curves – the opposite of all the mathematic. In the end, Gerda reaches Kay and with her love melts the coldness he had in his eye and wakes him up to love.”
The English version of The Snow Queen premieres at The Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich December 21. Barbara Hannigan will star as Gerda in this production which is directed by Andreas Kriegenburg and conducted by Cornelius Meister.
Performance dates in Copenhagen

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