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Il Turco in Norwegian

Razzle-dazzle, high kicks and general mayhem... Mary talks us through the plot of our most glamorous opera to date!

"Wow" says Pietro Spagnoli, great Rossinian buffo baritone "we´re talking Rossini to Broadway!

At Bergen National Opera, everyone is breathless from high kicks, razzle-dazzle, fancy moves and footwork. The dancers are sweating lightly, stretching their lycra-clad legs and fiddling with their feet. The chorus is gasping quietly and practising jerky movements as though searching for a wasp lost in their clothing - dance director Sean Curran´s routines are not, for sure, in their usual repertoire. The soloists are beaming and chattering in Italian by the coffee machine.

Welcome to Il Turco in Italia directed by American opera supremo Mark Lamos - a riotous combination of highly sophisticated ensemble, fabulous arias, touching moments and carefully choreographed mayhem.

Mark, along with designer George Souglides, last illuminated BNO in 2014 with Rimsky-Korsakov´s The Golden Cockerel - a Norwegian premiere which put Russian opera firmly on the Bergen map - and which created pictures never to be erased from memory: a golden cage shimmering above the stage with a jittering boy/bird as the eponymous cockerel; a wicked Eastern queen in a dazzling scarlet feather coat singing seductive lines to bewitch a foolish, doddering Tsar; a blasted landscape under a blood-red moon with ruined trees and a scattered, broken army. Unforgettable.

But Turco! It couldn´t be more different. Now, listen carefully - like most Italian opera, the plot is tortuous. We are at the seaside - maybe even in Pesaro, Rossini´s eccentric, enchanting home town. A poet, Prosdocimo, is looking for a story for his next libretto and in front of him, an interesting tale begins to unfold. Old Geronio (Spagnoli´s role) has a tiresomely flirtatious young wife Fiorilla, a girl troubled by a voracious need for male attention, preferably not from her husband. A Turkish ship sails in captained by the glamorous Selim - do not look to this opera for political correctness - and Fiorilla wastes no time. Meanwhile, Selim´s old girlfriend and a pack of gypsies are in hot pursuit. In the end, after a domestic ruction, a masked ball, a critical letter, it all resolves… How? You will just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, upstairs on Grieghallen´s third floor, a mix of Hungarian, Norwegian and German costume makers are draping bling onto delighted extra cast members. The clothes are outrageous, all froth, silk turbans, shocking pink trousers and bosomy dresses. There are harlequins in primary colours and pom-poms, crazy hats, and skirts the size of Victorian overmantels.

Along the corridor, Øystein is working with his puppets, little gesturing, weaving miniatures of the principal characters, clad in matching extravagant silks. Little Fiorilla is learning to stretch her wooden hand to slap mini Geronio. He is organising his dangling feet to swerve smartly away.

But right now, we have a half hour break. Spagnoli has taken his dog for a walk - he never travels without her - and our office has adopted her with somewhat soppy adoration. The dancers are outside smoking, and Fiorilla, Spanish soprano Sylvia Schwartz is on the phone to Rome, to her children´s nanny.

Mark is composing an email to the Metropolitan Opera, New York - they´ll revive one of his Verdi productions next year - and we are trying to catch our breath. We´ve just had cake for Mark´s birthday, and the sugar high compounds the atmosphere of overall exhilaration. In ten minutes, Rossini will swirl gloriously back on stage, the music will bewitch us and our toes will start to tap.

Broadway, Pesaro, Italy, Bergen - here we come, with the Norwegian premiere of an opera like no other. Bring your dancing shoes - isn´t that what the aisles are for? - and settle in for a night on the town, at the seaside, in the company of our cast of sparkling stars.

Mary Miller

Siste nyheter

Werther Dies

Video: Werther av Massenet

Se liveopptak av Werther i Grieghallen, med et stjernelag solister og Bergen Filharmoniske Orkester under ledelse av Frédéric Chaslin. Ny produksjon av Bergen Nasjonale Opera, med regi og design av Antony McDonald.

En liten sniktitt bak plasten

Kulissene er her!

Det er en sitrende spenning i luften denne tidlige søndagsmorgenen. Så skjer det vi har ventet på: Tre trailere ruller langsomt opp utenfor Grieghallen. De har kjørt hele veien fra Wien for å levere kulissene som skal ramme inn dramaet om Werther og Charlotte.

Sing along

How to make misery interesting

I´ve just been down in the rehearsal room where Massenet´s hero Werther has been dying since 10:00 this morning. The atmosphere is brisk and deeply practical.

Se hvordan kostymene lages

Se de vakre kostymene i Werther

Kostymene til operaen blir for tiden laget av skredderne til Das Gewand i Tyskland, et velrennomert selskap som har The Metropolitan og andre store operahus på kundelisten. Kostymesjef hos Bergen Nasjonale Opera, Cathrine Ahlsen, har vært på besøk for å sjekke at alt blir klart til premieren 16. mars. Her er en video med siste nytt fra kostymefronten!