December 11, 2014


A further update on my stay in Norway...

After a 7-hour train trip through gorgeous countryside (I made sure I travelled in the fleeting daylight) I arrived in Bergen. I found my flat with the help of a taxi driver who somehow negotiated the little hillside (Can we call it a mountainside? Having only lived in flat parts of the world, this qualified as a mountain to me...) streets that probably were not built with the automobile in mind. Just a couple of streets from the top of the inhabited part of the mountain was my accommodation; a lovely apartment with an incredible view over Bergen. Although my visit was during the darkest and rainiest time of year, the beauty of the place constantly thrilled is evident by my heavy use of Instagram during those days.

As Bergen was Grieg's birthplace and is situated near his home, Troldhaugen, there was much to see and do there. I worked on some of Grieg's songs with soprano, Hilde Haraldsen Sveen, at the Grieg Academy, spent many hours at the Grieg Archives at Bergen Public Library, where I, among other things, looked at some of Grieg's manuscripts. Very moving. And of course, a "pilgrimage" to Troldhaugen, for another look at his house and the Grieg Museum, and to meet with a couple of the people I had met when I visited in 2010.

The end of each day involved a very steep climb up the mountain, which became only slightly easier with every ascent. I was grateful for the constant rain and above-freezing temperatures, wondering how in the world one would negotiate that steep walk in ice and snow. 

December 5, 2014


A little update on my Norwegian adventure so far...three weeks in.

I am on the Oslo-Bergen train right now; a seven-hour trip gives me time to put some words together.

The trip to Norway started off with a flight delay of 24 hours, which was actually not really a problem; in fact it turned out to be quite a fun little adventure. I decided to forego my planned visit to Copenhagen as it was now cut back to just one night; the airline got me a flight to Oslo instead. So, I left one day late, and arrived at my destination one day early.

Oslo is a wonderful city, and reminds me somewhat of my beloved Copenhagen...only not as cycle-able due to all the hills. My airbnb flat was perfect, well-located, and included a freshly tuned piano. I planned my trip to coincide with the beginning of Canadian winter, hoping I could avoid a few weeks of that business. Sure enough, the temperature has mostly been single digits Celsius, with the past few days dipping down just below freezing, with the tiniest bit of snow. Lots of rain, which is how I like it. The days are shortening, noticeably so every day, but with all the beautiful Christmas season lights, the atmosphere is incredibly cozy.

I have had quite a few sessions (almost every other day!) with my Norwegian diction coach, who has skilfully been working on getting proper Norwegian sounds to come out of my mouth. She really knows her stuff, including her way around all the many dialects of Norwegian. I have also had a few sessions of exploring many of Grieg's songs and the poets he set, with bass-baritone, Njål Sparbo. So inspiring! This is the information I have been looking for. The repertoire is incredibly rich, and I look forward to working on it with some of my Canadian singers when I return to Canada.

While in Oslo, I attended quite a bit of theatre and a couple of talks as well: the world premiere of Jüri Reinvere's opera "Peer Gynt", the National Theatre's (crazy! - set as a television talk show) production of Ibsen's "Peer Gynt", Garborg's "Haugtussa", Holberg's "Jeppe på Bjerget", and a presentation on Garborg by an author who has recently written a fascinating book on Arne  and Hulda Garborg. A private tour of Ibsen's flat, a look at the Ibsen museum, a visit to the National Museum to see paintings of Munch, Dahl, and company...and lots of Norwegian television and radio...have all helped to fill in some cultural context for me. 

Bonus: I met up with four Oslo-dwellers that I had only known through Instagram until now. :)

Now that it is finally daylight (9:30 a.m.), I am going to sit back and enjoy the view of the Norwegian countryside...