Friday, March 7, 2014

Opera, the music and embracing who you are...

This weeks productiveness has been on hold as I caught a little virus… typical. I guess it’s my body telling me to relax for some days…

I find myself, yesterday and today, thinking of music which is something I do a lot, embarrassingly. Sometimes I create my own music in my head, other times I’m listening to something already written in my head. 
Yesterday I explored which sent me to a Mozart opera I once saw as a young girl in my home town of Bergen, Norway “Die Entführung aus dem Serail” The Abduction from the Seraglio.
It was some crazy production from Berlin, and boy, was I intrigued by all the nakedness and sex that was involved in the production. I honestly couldn’t and can’t remember anything of the music because I was too concerned with watching the naked people running around taking showers in the nude on stage, stripping their clothes off and simulating sex, S&M, bondage, you name it, I can still see the scenes in my mind but I can’t remember a single aria. So when “Fach me” (appropriate name!) suggested Konstanze's role I thought “maybe that would be something for me.” I looked it up on Spotify then on and was
S-H-O-C-K-E-D by the fact that "fachme" could even think of suggesting that to me…. I was literally thinking “Fach me!? no, Fuck me! No chance in hell!!!!” I’ve never heard anything so crazy and spectacular before and the sad thing is that I can’t remember a single bit of this aria from the production I saw. ("Ach ich liebte, war so glücklich")

So I’m questioning should we be allowed to make such distracting productions that the music fades into the background? Does sex really have to sell everything? Even opera? I’m no prude, (I’m no exhibitionist and definitely not promiscuous) but some part of me wishes that the emphasis should still be on the music and the singing. 
I feel that love should be portrayed as it is with kisses, sex and passion. I think that is important to wipe away the old fashioned traditions of opera. They sing and sing and sing about how madly in love they are, but never kiss!? That is not love, that is not reality and that’s shitty acting. I think all artist should be prepared (and they should prepare their partners, just in case) for kissing on stage. I have fellow singer couple-friends that have made deals with each other where they allow kissing on stage and rehearsals, because it matters for the art. It has to be included in love even when it’s pretend love. 

Anyway I just felt all these memories flooding to the surface thinking about being a teenager (I know, it’s not that long ago!) and how I actually spent more time with my classical music friends going to operas and piano concerts instead of sneaking out and getting drunk for the first time and chasing boys.
I love Edvard Grieg and I found myself thinking of his A Minor concerto today. I’m listening to it as I write. I really love his music, it’s not only beautiful and full of passion, but some pieces are so descriptive of Norwegian nature especially Bergen's nature.
I first heard the A minor concert live with some girl friends when I was about 16 years old with Leif Ove Andsnes on the piano with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, now that music I remember clearly. I went out and bought a CD with him playing it. Only he can truly bring that passion of Grieg’s music alive for me.
It makes me think about how strange I am. Is it normal to be a 16 year old like I was? I’m not much of a brain, I hated school, I avoided doing me home work except for the classes I really liked. I loved reading the book assignments and English. I still remember the plays our teacher made us study, one of them being “Jeppe på Bjerget” by Ludvig Holberg written in 1722 which still touches me to this day. I even preformed his awaking monologue recently with my acting class at school. I guess I chased the men worth chasing: Mozart, Grieg, Leif Ove Andsnes… I guess some of us are just born or meant for something different. I definitely don’t have it from my parents, well, possibly my mother. She was always curious as a child. A reader. She would read anything she could get her hands on and she still does. I don’t remember a single day without her holding a book in her hands. Sometimes I’d walk into the living room and she’d be crying over something she just read or flipping the book back to the front page to read it all over again in the same day. My mother took herself from the indian reservation in South Dakota, to Norway, Bergen, to have me, to now having an opera loving daughter that much rather hung out at the Grieghall as a teenager rather than accidentally turning her into a grandmother….
Where does it all come from? I have no idea. I can’t even explain myself to myself. 

We are often told to embrace the things that are unique about ourselves. I’m a Norwegian and Native American mix that sings opera. I’m pale white, slightly tall with lots of legs and arms and a some ass… Just writing about it makes me want to crawl under my bed. Thank god it’s Friday, lets grab us a beer and toast ourselves tonight! 

               Looks like this has become a standard pose for me, on and off stage....

xx Erika Grace

Photo: Emelie Joenniemi &Åke Cappelin

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