January 31, 2008

Den Nye Opera's Carmen outstanding, says Opera Magazine

Bergen, Norway -- Andrew Litton has never made a secret for his passion for opera and as music director of the Bergen Philharmonic has supplied a catalyst to transform the city's operatic life. Den Nye Opera (The New Opera) made a low-key debut last year with a Tosca that was something of a trial run, but trained the spotlight on its first venture this season, Carmen in David McVicar's celebrated Glyndenbourne production, which plaued four sold-out performances in Grieg Hall. A joint venture of the Philharmonic, the Bergen International Festival, the National Theatre in Bergen and Grieg Hall, Den Nye Opera incorporated Opera Vest, best known for its performances of contemporary chamber opera, into its organization in 2007 and exects to bring the city's other opera company, Vest Norges Opera, under its umbrella as well; Stein Olav Henrichsen, formerly of Opera Vest, serves as artistic and general director. According to locals, Bergen, which was put on the musical map by its native son Edvard Grieg, has never before experienced opera at the international level of this Carmen.

Good as the singing was, a major share of the credit goes to the Bergen Philharmonic, which played gorgeously under Litton. Demonstrating a thorough command of the inner workings of the piece, Litton often opted for spacious tempos, but they never lacked for dramatic tension. The amateur chorus did a thoroughly professional job. Plans for 2008 include Saariaho's L'Amour de loin, part of the Bergen Festival; Melancholia, a new opera by Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas in a co-production with Stavanger (Norway) 2008, the Opera National de Paris and Oslo's Den Norske Opera; and a new production of Der fliegende Hollander by Harry Kupfer.

George Loomis, Opera, February 2008