Scandinavia 2015: A Finnish Song Recital and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic at the Konserthuset
Scandinavia 2015: Danish National Symphony Orchestra at the Koncerthuset

Scandinavia 2015: Royal Danish Opera Academy Concert at the Royal Danish Theater

IMG_1139COPENHAGEN, Denmark - On the night I arrived in Copenhagen, the main event in town was the world premiere of the new opera sun goes up, sun goes down, commissioned from Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Copenhagen's ultra-modern Royal Opera House. Unfortunately, when I called the box office, I was told that the performance was "beyond sold out."

But, the good news was that there was another performance happening that same evening at the Royal Danish Theatre's Gamle Scene ("Old Stage"), built in 1874 on Kongens Nytorv in the center of the city. Similar to Stockholm's Opera House, the theater was dripping in gold and marble, with crystal chandeliers and richly colored murals. Above the stage were written the words "EI BLOT TIL LYST" ("Not Only For Pleasure"). A good sign. 

IMG_1151The performance wasn't a staged opera, but a recital featuring students from the Royal Danish Opera Academy, a postgraduate three-year program offered in collaboration with the Royal Danish Theatre and the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Performing with the Royal Danish Academy Symphony Orchestra, led by Giordano Bellincampi, the students performed excerpts from a range of works, both unusual (Stravinsky's Rake's Progress; Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream) and familiar (Mozart's Cosi fan tutte; Verdi's Il Trovatore and Macbeth).

Hosted by the Norwegian soprano Anne Margrethe Dahl (who bore an uncanny resemblance to Jane Fonda), it was a mixed bag, to be sure. Many of the young singers seemed nervous - wouldn't you be on such a regal stage? - and had issues with both pitch and volume, but a few showed real promise, such as baritone Per Eriksson and Soprano Sara Swietlicki, who gave a sunny performance of the "Udiste" duet from Il Trovatore.

No matter: the audience - many of whom seemed to be friends and family of the students - erupted in raucous applause after each number, and brought them all back for numerous curtain calls at the end. Of course, I joined right in.

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