On January 14, the opera The Snow Queen by Hans Abrahamsen was released on DVD on the company's own label Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings. The Snow Queen is Hans Abrahamsen's first opera, composed for the world-famous soprano Barbara Hannigan and based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale. In the production by Andreas Kriegenburg, Barbara Hannigan is joined by Rachael Wilson, Katarina Dalayman and Peter Rose, with Cornelius Meister as musical director. It is the English singing version created by Amanda Holden in close collaboration with Hans Abrahamsen.
After an intensive study of the theme of snow and a lifelong preoccupation with Andersen's fairy tales, Hans Abrahamsen wrote the music and libretto of Snedronningen, as it is originally called in Danish, from 2014 to 2018. The World Premiere took place at the Royal Danish Opera House on October 13th in 2019 under the baton of Robert Houssart and directed by Francesco Negrin. The German Premiere followed suit at the Bavarian State Opera on 21st December 2019 which has now been released on DVD.
The plot follows the well-known fairy tale: Two children, Gerda and Kay, are intimately acquainted and as if destined for each other. Then something pricks Kay's heart and eye, and suddenly they are estranged from each other, as if they lived in two different worlds. Kidnapped by the Snow Queen, Kay also disappears from Gerda's life in the flesh. She begins a long search for her friend until she finds him again in the snow and ice and cries the devilish splinters out of him with her tears. Enriched by many experiences, both are now ready to grow up.
Hans Abrahamsen's music, with its finely changing structures and subtly altered repetitions, lends the text both depth and lightness. He himself emphasizes the many possibilities of interpretation: "You can read the fairy tale in different ways. It contains many secrets, and you can interpret it in many ways."