Fairy Tale Opera Marguerite on youtube with English subtitles see here
The fairy tale opera Marguerite (Baldursbrá) by Gunnsteinn Olafsson and Bödvar Gudmundsson premiered on the stage of Harpa’s Northern Lights recital hall on August 29th, 2015.
The opera tells the story of Marguerite, a flower who meets the sardonic Curlew. They decide to travel together to the top of a mountain ridge to enjoy the view, recruiting the help of Foxy along the way. It turns out to be a rather complicated journey, as a horrible ram is wandering around the ridge looking for food, like our poor flower Marguerite! Foxy’s cubs try to bring the ram down but he proves too difficult for them. Marguerite’s life is hanging by a thread, and she needs to get back home to her hollow as soon as possible. Can anyone save her?
The music of Marguerite is in part inspired by Icelandic folk music, ballads, rimur songs and nursery rhymes, but there are also glimpses of rap and energetic dances.
“Bödvar’s libretto is brilliantly written and the music is as good as possible. It is folksy and catchy, with an incredibly fun score… Leaving the concert I heard people whistling refrains from the opera. That alone is a good testimony. It is safe to congratulate the composer and librettist on a splendid piece.“ Jonas Sen, Frettabladid.
Ríkarður Örn Pálsson, Morgunbladid’s reviewer, wrote that it is „rare, to say the least, to hear such an obviously inspired and pure piece of music which stays in your mind after the first listen“ and gave the piece four and a half stars of five.
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Act I. Marguerite is enjoying herself in a hollow by a babbling brook. Curlew appears and describes the view from the ridge and how beautiful the sunset looks from there. She longs to see it, too, and Curlew offers to carry Marguerite up to the ridge. When that turns out to be difficult, he seeks help from his friend Foxy and asks him to carry up the hill. Foxy reluctantly agrees. A mean-looking Ram is seen by the ridge looking for something to eat. Foxy carries Marguerite to the ridge and warns her about dangerous conditions for sensitive flowers. Marguerite and Curlew refuse to listen but instead, praise the view and sunset.
Act II. Marguerite wakes up on the ridge, very thirsty, and says she cannot live without water. She must go back to her hollow by the brook. Curlew again goes to Foxy for help. Foxy is introducing his cubs to ram hunting with old rhymes. He refuses to assist Curlew again, but puts on airs with a leg of lamb in his jaws. Up on the ridge the Ram charges at Marguerite. The cubs come running, attempting to fell the ram, but he is able to shake them off, rips up Marguerite, roots and all, and disappears. Curlew comes up to the ridge but finds it empty.
Act III. Curlew is alone on the ridge. He is hurt that Marguerite left without saying goodbye to him. Then he hears her where she is lying in a hole. The ram did not like the taste of her so he threw her quickly away. They fall asleep to an old nursery rhyme. When mist starts to crawl up the ridge, Foxy appears. Curlew accuses him of betrayal but Foxy manages to placate him and they start their journey with Marguerite. Lost in the mist, they run into the ram and a fierce fight breaks out between these old enemies. When Foxy is about to deliver the final stroke, the ram moans that he knows the way to Marguerite’s hollow. Foxy spares the Ram’s life and the three of them continue with Marguerite. When they reach their destination, Marguerite recovers and sings again. Then the fox cubs attack the Ram, intending to kill him with their father’s help. To their surprise, Foxy scolds them and says they were ment to find a mean old ram, not a helpful one; that’s a totally different kind of beast. All are reconciled in a lively final song to an old dance.