REPLAY Veronika at Basement, Copenhagen

If you happen to find yourself Copenhagen at the moment or during next week, you should definitely check out underground artist group Xofia’s latest staging REPLAY Veronika. I attended the performance last night and was very impressed with this thougtprovoking and inspired staging.

REPLAY Veronika 

The play was inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake, the idea that a lapse in time could occur, setting history for a period of time, and thus suspending man’s free will momentarily. In REPLAY Veronika such a phenomenon occurs, resulting in the repetition of eight years (1999-2007), and main character Veronika is the only one in the world who preserves her free will and thus her ability to change her fate as of November 14 2007, the date that marks the occurence of the timequake.

The play queries the idea of a free will as Veronika, even when given the opportunity to change a less than desirable destiny, chooses to a large degree to follow the road already taken, and it does so in a fresh and sympathetically unresolved manner, leaving the ending open and inviting the audience to make a guess as to what will follow. It’s a kind of like a modern Everyman play, one might say, drawing on latter-day mythology in lieu of the lorn Christianity-inspired gallery of characters of medieval mystery plays. Veronika (Birgit Ulla Uldall-Ekman) with her mirroring surarium-name is Everywoman and the object of identification, God-like character Time (Sara Damgaard Andersen) embodies the much-worshipped media holding the remote control to a flat-screen monitor and effectively rewinds and fast-forwards, Lev (Bjørn Vikkelsø) is Veronika’s road-not-taken personified as the passionate, distant man in her life, contrasted by earthbound, button-down-shirted husband Jakob (Asger Kjær Pedersen),  and clingy girlfriend Lily (Stina Mølgaard Pedersen), while The Stranger (Ulf Rathjen Kring Hansen) is an anon.-angelic kind of helper, dressed very appropriately like a film-noir informant in a hat and cottoncoat. It’s hard not to identify with Veronika as the years flash by in the course of about 80 minutes, relating to her story as well as (re-)considering one’s own actions and choices of the 1999-2007 time-span.

The art direction is very effective; the stage settings show the inside of an apartment, ambiguously decorated so that it reflects both claustrophic conformity and wall-paper-tattering rebellion, and I especially love the aforementioned flat-screen monitor: The rewinding and fast-forwarding is a brilliantly tangible way of presenting the passing of time, and I have always been a total sucker for the use of multi-media in modern theatre. I think it’s such a great Michel-Foucault-“Des espaces autres” way of depicting the juxtaposition of spaces, and such a juxtaposition is naturally relevant in a performance on the subject of life choices and dimensional displacement.

REPLAY Veronika is, in other words, very recommendable! It opened on Friday the 11th and will be playing until May 20 at Basement, Vesterbro – a great site for theatre, literally underground. Make sure you get a programme when picking up your tickets; Xofia’s visual designer Søren Meisner (also in charge of the absolutely awesome web design at xofia.dk) has done a magnificent job with the layout, and his poster (the above picture) is a rare example of promotional art offering an interpretation of and thus interacting with the stage performance.

/marie

May 13, 2007. Art, Reviews, Theatre. 1 comment.

Schubert: Okay, for this I am SO sending the Erlkönig over tonight, beeyatch.

Five-year-old boy pointing to drawing of dog, excitedly: …And this is Schubert!!

– Charlottenlund Fort Restaurant, Charlottenlund

overheard by

/marie

May 12, 2007. Music, Overheard. Leave a comment.

Werther in Concert

My local library is really good when it comes to buying opera dvds. I often go there and leaf through the selection and find stuff I never knew I craved – but then there it is. Many I just pass visit after visit and then perhaps one day I decide to pick it up. One such dvd was this:

Werther. Hampson Graham

I first saw it some months ago and left it because the cover is plain ugly and because concert performances on dvd are just one more nail to the coffin of opera as an art form. But then later that day it returned to me. Because – what would the barytone Thomas Hampson be doing in an opera with a tenor hero? And embracing the heroine on the cover?

So when I stumbled upon it again last week I decided to bring it home with me.
It turned out to be musically stunning and acting-wise not bad at all.

The conductor Michel Plasson and I are not the best of friends…not that he knows. But I once witnessed him furiously screaming the text at a poor mezzo-soprano who couldn’t remember her part but who had also just been flown in to rescue the performance from cancellation. Not nice Monsieur P.
But I have to admit that with this Werther he does a remarkable job.

And then what I really wanted to share with you: the best love scene I can think of just now. And here performed by two singers, Thomas Hampson and Susan Graham, who are everything but 20-year-olds but who manage to put all the pain, vulnerability, and love into this encounter and make it one of the most touching scenes I have seen.

Have a look and try to ignore the impossible filming:

If you want to see what it all ends with then look here for Werther’s death.

The cast also includes delectable singers as Stéphane Degout as Albert and Sandrine Piau as Sophie.

And the barytone thing? It turns out Massenet revised his opera and turned Werther into a barytone in order to make him more brooding. Not sure I think that is the right thing to do – but Thomas Hampson is always welcome to do any of my favourite opera heroes!

/anna

May 11, 2007. In the library, Music, Opera, YouTube. 2 comments.

Cecilia Bartoli in Copenhagen

Monday Cecilia Bartoli visited Copenhagen and left a trail of happiness behind her.
She sang arias from her latest cd Opera Proibita which is a collection of beautifully silent pieces and brilliantly breathless virtuosity.
I have now witnessed three concerts with Cecilia Bartoli and I feel entitled to some conclusions about her performances. The thing about a Cecilia Bartoli concert is that it leaves you utterly exhilarated. Her joy in making music is so apparent that you are left with no choice but to follow her. Which means that being in a concert hall with her is a most wonderful experience. I recommend it to all!
This evening (as also the two other evenings I have spent with her) she delivered the pieces with energy and a complete control over her voice. It is like listening to the cd and then add her fantastic presence. That’s really all there is to say. Go here and listen to Disseratevi, o porte d’Averno. Then you will get a glimpse of what I’m talking about. We even got it twice!
The orchestra La Scintilla was brilliant too (heee – got it?) and worked very well both with and without La Bartoli.
Many thanks to Cecilia for sharing her passion so violently with the rest of us. Life-affirming!

Cecilia Bartoli

/anna

May 9, 2007. Music, Opera, Reviews. 3 comments.

Trying out the Rommelpot. Staged Photos from the UK

I receive the newsletter of The National Gallery, London each month and the May issue had some information on their annual project for young school children called Take One. Every year the NG chooses a picture from their collection and teachers and pupils across the UK are then asked to be inspired by the picture in their lessons. Cross-curicular work as they call it. The products of this will be viewed by the Gallery officials and a selection will be exhibited. It could be pictures the children painted, poems they wrote, videos, photos, sculpture, etc.

How about these marvellous cheetahs by the children of Saint Nicholas Junior School, Bath:
Cheetahs

Inspired by Bacchus and Ariadne (1521-23) by Titian:
Bacchus & Ariadne

Wonderful. But what caught my eye in the first place was a staged photo. And as you know Marie and I are always trying to be on the ball about staged photos. This year the National Gallery handed out a painting by the Dutch painter Jan Molenaer (1610-1668):

Two Boys and a Girl making Music
Two Boys and a Girl making Music, 1629

And here is the most hilarious staged photo – isn’t it precious?

top_keyimage.jpg
Children from the Bishop Tufnell Infant School.

If you go here you can read more on this year’s picture, the exhibition and watch a nice little film about the children participating.

Last year the picture was Pierre Mignard’s Marquise de Seignelay and Two of her Sons, 1691.

Marquise de Seignelay and Two of her Sons

And here’s another staged photo – an updated version showing a father with his two daughters. I think it is very touching.
staged-far.jpg

Seems like a very good project. Once again the Brits beat the rest of us at reaching children with art.

/anna

May 4, 2007. Art, Staged photos. 2 comments.

April – Schumann: “The Fiddler”

I’m in a bit of a hurry, and April’s almost over, so I’m going to give you a very short version of my musical calendar this month.

Hans Christian Andersen

Good old H.C. – affected and brilliant as ever

I’m going to honour Hans Christian Andersen in this post as well, celebrating his birth-month, and I’m going to do so by proposing what I think would have been a great and proper act for a Hans Christian Andersen 200th Birthday Show two years ago: Soprano Inger Dam-Jensen singing one of Schumann’s renditions of HCA’s poems. Voila: Inger Dam-Jensen, singing Schumann’s “Spillemanden” (“The Fiddler”) with lyrics by HCA, accompanied by Christen Stubbe Teglbjærg on piano.

Inger Dam-Jensen

Beautiful Inger Dam-Jensen 

Inger Dam-Jensen has got the beauty of voice to match HCA’s poetry and she’s got the glittering, golden, cornfield-like authencity in her timbre to match HCA’s endearing naivité.

The lyrics are in Danish, but here’s a translation into English. Read ’em and weep:

In the village it is merry

A wedding is celebrated with dancing and music

Toasts are made in wine and mead

But the bride looks like an adorned dead

Yes, dead is she for her beloved one

for he is not there as her bridegroom

In the corner he stands with his sorrow

and plays his fiddle so merrily

He plays till his locks turn gray

He plays till the strings burst

Till the fiddle with sorrow and dread

He crushes against his heart

It is so heavy, so crushingly heavy

to die while one’s heart is still young

I can’t stand to look at it any longer!

I feel it going through my head.

See, the men hold him tightly

– but why do you call me by name?

God keep us all!

I am a poor fiddler myself.

Sniff. Happy Cruelest Month, everyone!

Fiddle 

Random Fiddle

/marie

April 30, 2007. A Musical Year, Music, The course of the year. Leave a comment.

Choreography. Dance-music from Louis XIV’s Court with Concerto Copenhagen

Last Sunday I went to the beautiful Garrison Church where my favourite orchestra Concerto Copenhagen do most of their concerts when in town.

Garnisons Kirken 
The Garrison Church, Copenhagen.

This Sunday the orchestra was conducted by the British harpist Andrew Lawrence-King in a programme of French dance-music from Louis XIV’s court. The concert was entitled Chorégraphie for the same reason and the hand-out told us that the 17th Century brought with it the first notation of choreography by the dancing-master Raoul Auger Feuillet. Feuillet based his dances on Jean Baptiste Lully’s music for which I have for some time harboured a quiet passion. In this concert Concerto Copenhagen played music by Lully and by a couple of fellows I had never even heard of before: Jean-Henry D’Angelbert and André Campra (more Rameau’s contemporary than Lully’s actually).

Andrew Lawrence-King had brought the guitar player and dancer Steven Player with him to perform some of the choreographies. So when it was required Steven Player would leave his guitar and step out from his place in the orchestra to use the nave as his dancing floor. I was absolutely taken with his appearance. This sternly looking middle aged man performed these pompous and thoroughly choreographed dances with the utmost seriousness and elegance. He opened by acting baroque conductor beating the time of a slow Pavane by banging a long staff against the floor with his back at the audience. Very simple but also effectively creating an atmosphere of ancient times and awe. Lully by the way died after banging such a staff against his foot which then infected and sent him to his Creator. Luckily Mr Player had no such accident this afternoon.

As I was sitting on the second balcony I has a perfect view over the movements just like Feuillet had noted them down:
dans2.jpg

Steven Player then added a variety of hand-movements that seemed very much like the ornaments French baroque music is so famous for. Well actually I couldn’t say if this elegant icing is also noted down – as I am only familiar with the notation of music. But it probably is or at least there must have been some general rules for the dancer to refer to.
Steven Player did what seemed genuine and authentic and for one of the pieces he even managed to dance with his guitar either on his back or playing it!

In between the sets Andrew Lawrence-King told us little bits about the court, the music, the dance and the dancers. And besides from being an absolute virtuoso on his instrument (the harp) he also turned out to be an excellent story-teller.

As I already mentioned Steven Player looked very stern but for one of his last pieces he transformed into a perfect Jester tumbling around, begging with his hat in his hand. A performance worthy of a Commedia dell’Arte expert (as I understand he is). The music said that he was Harlequin but perhaps he was more of the Old Man Lully played with great success in his own ballet Air d’Apollon.

I must say I loved this concert! How wonderful to experience dance and music come together again. This music is so extremely well-suited for dancing (as it was written for it…) that it makes so much sense when performed with a dancer. This kind of multiple arts performances are rare in Copenhagen when it comes to ancient arts. How wonderful to have such wonderful performers as Andrew Lawrence-King and Steven Player to enrich us! I would have loved to witness the concert all over again and I hope they will come back soon!

dans.jpg

/anna

April 29, 2007. Music, Reviews. 2 comments.

April – Hans Christian Andersen: “Ole Luk-Oie, the Dream-God”

April is the cruelest month, said T.S. Eliot, and I did consider choosing his ”Waste Land” as the April submission for this literary calendar, but wouldn’t that have been predictable and clichéd? Yes, it would.

Instead I have chosen to celebrate Danish national poet Hans Christian Andersen, since April was HCA’s birth month. He was born on April 2 1805, which means that this marks the two-year anniversary for that absolutely hideous and very embarrassing Las Vegas-wannabe show they arranged in celebration of his 200th birthday, featuring a selection of completely arbitrary, non-HCA-related artists, such as Tina Turner singing “Simply the Best”, Olivia Newton-John singing “Xanadu”, and some random comedian whose act consisted of dressing up in paper-clothes to music. It was horrible. Very bad taste. And about as far away from poetry as it could possibly get.

So this year, I’ve decided to celebrate old H.C. the best way one probably can anyway; by reading one of his amazing stories. The story is “Ole Luk-oie – the God of Sleep” (also known, in some translations, as “The Sandman”), which is probably my favourite Hans Christian Andersen story. 

Ole Luk-Oie 

The edition of “Ole Luk-Oie” that I grew up with – the illustrations are by excellent illustrator Lillian Brøgger. 

Ole Luk-Oie (or “Ole Lukøje” in Danish) means “Ole Close-Eye”, and the story revolves around the question of what exactly happens when we dream. The story answers the question quite unambiguously: When people (especially children) go to sleep, they are visited by Ole Lukøje, an elflike little creature, who blows softly on their necks until their heads grow heavy and throws fine dust into their eyes until they blink with fatigue, and as soon as the children are in their beds he spreads an umbrella over the children’s heads. He’s got two umbrellas, one for the good children and one for the bad ones, but they both basically work like a kind of parabolas, channelling either pleasant or grim stories to the perceptive, sleeping children. Ole Luk-Oie is the network executive so to speak, he makes up all the stories and “there is nobody in the world who knows so many stories as Ole Luk-Oie” as the narrator informs us at the beginning of the story. We, the readers, are introduced to Ole’s skills in the story through the sleep-bound boy Hjalmar, and the short story consists of the seven stories that Ole tells Hjalmar in the course of a week.  I had this story read to me countless times as a child, completely in love with the fantastic imagery of the stories and then I sort of forgot about it by the time of my adolescence, but I re-discovered the story as an adult three years ago, when the excellent Copenhagen children’s theatre Anemone teatret staged the story as a play. In the staging they stressed very beautifully the point that will naturally be an adult’s approach to the story: The reading of the seven stories as the depiction of seven stages of a human life, with Hjalmar as a kind of Everyman persona. I absolutely love that interpretation, and I think it’s a great example of how HCA’s tales work just as well for children as for their parents. It’s also funny to see in this tale of nightly dreams how Freud virtually existed before he existed, or at least before he had had the chance to share his ideas with the world: The first dream, the Monday dream, of Hjalmar’s is dominated by repressed feelings – childish guilt feelings as it is. The Monday dream depicts one of the first trials a human being suffers through; that is going to school and coming face to face with one’s own inadequacy. Ole Luk-Oie tries his best to create pleasant dreams for his young client, but the nagging guilt stemming from poorly done homework threatens to wreck Hjalmar’s fantasy of pure childish, sensual pleasure “…all the flowers in the flower-pots became large trees, with long branches reaching to the ceiling, and streatching along the walls, so that the whole room was like greenhouse. All the branches were loaded with flowers, each flower as beautiful and as fragrant as a rose; and, had any one tasted them, he would have found them sweeter even than jam. The fruit glittered like gold, and there were cakes so full of plums that they were nearly bursting. It was incomparably beautiful. At the same time sounded dismal moans from the table-drawer in which lay Hjalmar’s school books.” Hjalmar’s school accessories are lamenting their poor state, and I particularly love the description of the copy-book’s sorrow: “On each leaf stood a row of capital letters, every one having a small letter by its side. This formed a copy; under these were other letters, which Hjalmar had written: they fancied they looked like the copy, but they were mistaken; for they were leaning on one side as if they intended to fall over the pencil-lines.” Last year I was in the street and I was struck – somewhat pathetically, I admit – by an everyday image that has haunted me, and which reminds me of this paragraph in Ole Luk-Oie: I saw a toddler pushing his own big stroller in front of him with much trouble, his mother smiling and laughing beside him. There was something so significant about that image, I thought, something so sad: This is what we do most of our childhood, we try to grow up as quickly as we possibly can, pushing our stroller in front of us while it’s still twice our own size, or trying to copy neat letters in a copy-book, and failing. Childhood is, to me, a great mixture of fantastic dreams of sensual pleasures like delicious treats and trees growing wildly into the sky, and the harsh reality of our incapability. The Monday story in “Ole Luk-Oie” depicts this so well I think, ending with the words: “…[Ole Luk-Oie] drilled them till they stood up gracefully, and looked as beautiful as a copy could look. But after Ole Luk-Oie was gone, and Hjalmar looked at them in the morning, they were as wretched and as awkward as ever.” The Tuesday story was my favourite as a child, and actually I think it has something appropriately April-like to it. Hjalmar, trapped in the previous dream within his own little room, goes off into a beautiful Spring landscape, and drifts in a boat down a stream which is significantly headed for the vast sea: Hjalmar is on a adolescent Wanderung in this story, and it is a wonderful experience. Beyond the pure pleasure-seaking fantasies of childhood, Hjalmar encounters fantastic creatures: “..six swans, each with a golden circlet round its neck, and a bright blue star on its forehead, drew the boat past the green wood, where the trees talked of robbers and witches, and the flowers of beautiful little elves and fairies, whose histories the butterflies had related to them. Brilliant fish, with scales like silver and gold, swam after the boat, sometimes making a spring and splashing the water round them, while birds, red and blue, small and great, flew after him in two long lines. The gnats danced round them, and the cockchafers cried ‘Buz, buz’.”There are women there, too, two of them, each playing an important part in Hjalmar’s life: One is a princess who is the likeness of a little girl Hjalmar knows, with whom he playfully shares a piece of candy, and the other is his old nurse from his infancy, who only nods at him and then sings a melancholy little song: “How oft my memory turns to thee,/my own Hjalmar, ever dear!/When I could watch thy infant glee,/or kiss away a pearly tear/’Twas in my arms thy lisping tongue/first spoke the half-remembered word,/while o’er thy tottering steps I hung,/my fond protection to afford./Farewell! I pray the Heavenly Power/to keep thee til thy dying hour.” I was very fond of this verse when I was a child, thinking it was beautiful. When I saw the staging of “Ole Luk-Oie” at Anemone teatret, I was momentarily shocked and sad to find that they had chosen to portray the nurse as a ridiculous looking matron, accompanying her loud, insisting singing on a squeaky accordion, but then I thought about it, and I realized that it was actually a rather good presentation of this woman from Hjalmar’s past: The verse is sentimental, bordering on the saccharine, and while Hjalmar may feel a sting of nostalgia upon hearing her singing and thinking of the care she offered him, his boat is still flowing down the stream and the nurse will necessarily be contrasted by the pretty young princess-girl who has something to offer him.  But of course youth isn’t all fun and games and fairy tales, and Hjalmar learns as much from the Wednesday story, where he’s confronted with the force of peerpressure and slander. One of the things that makes “Ole Luk-Oie” such a great story is that the multitudinous of stories obviously made it possible for HCA to use many of his different talents as a story-teller. In the Monday story he demonstrates his ability to understand the sentiments of a young child, in the Tuesday story he uses his imaginative skills in the wonderful descriptions of a fairy tale landscape, and in this story, the Wednesday story, he uses his talent as a satirist. As stories such a s “The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweeper” and “There is No Doubt About It” bear witness, HCA was more than a light-headed dreamer, he was a poignant and humorous observer, and this is very clear in the Wednesday story. Hjalmar reaches the sea in this dream, and he follows a stork, who is placed in a henhouse among hens, ducks and turkeys as he grows tired from travelling. HCA depicts very accurately that certain high school kind of atmosphere among the rural fowl as the in-crowd that isn’t about to accept an outsider into their group, and who, xenophobically, would rather miss out on some great in-puts than to admit to their own significance: “…the stork told them all about warm Africa, of the pyramid, and of the ostrich, which, like a wild horse, runs across the desert. But the ducks did not understand what he said, and quacked amongst themselves, ‘We are all of the same opinion; namely, that he is stupid.’ ‘Yes, to be sure, he is stupid,’ said the turkey-cock; and gobbled. Then the stork remained quite silent, and thought of his home in
Africa. ‘Those are handsome thin legs of yours,’ said the turkey-cock. ‘What do they cost a yard?’ ‘Quack, quack, quack,’ grinned the ducks; but the stork pretended not to hear.”Luckily, Hjalmar is able to learn the right lesson from the encounter: Recognising the worldliness of the stork and the beauty of its storytelling, he dismisses the feathered clique as the temporary, uninteresting creatures they are: “‘Tomorrow you shall be made into soup,’ said Hjalmar to the fowls; and then he awoke and found himself lying in his little bed.” 

The stories of Thursday and Friday are connected in a sense, in as much as they both depict a wedding ceremony. While Thursday, however, is all about glamour, Friday has something remarkably prosaic to it, and as such one might say that the two stories depict a youthful, and a more disillusionized, mature approach towards love and marriage, respectively. Hjalmar is attending the wedding between two mice in the Thursday story, and it’s all about show and illusion right from the beginning. Hjalmar must get dressed up in his tin soldier’s uniform in order to look proper for the ceremony, and the ceremony is imbued with the satirical take on artificiality that HCA did so well (for instance with his depiction of the Princess in “The Swine-Herd”). The bridal pair’s love for each other is scarcely mentioned and the party is dominated by a sense of unfulfilment and shallow showiness: “The room had been rubbed over with bacon-rind, like the passage, which was all the refreshment offered to the guests. But for the dessert they produced a pea, on which a mouse belonging to the bridal pair had bitten the first letters of their names. This was something quite uncommon. All the mice said it was a very beautiful wedding, and that they had been very agreeably entertained.” Hjalmar is obviously fascinated with the splendour, but also aware of the violence he’s had to do to his own nature: “He had certainly been in grand society: but he had been obliged to creep under a room, and to make himself small enough to wear the uniform of a tin soldier.” It’s a different atmosphere, if not a less satirical one, we find in the Friday story, which describes the wedding of Hjalmar’s sister’s dolls Herman and Bertha. Hjalmar frets somewhat upon being invited to the wedding by Ole, noting that the two dolls have easily been married a hundred times already by his sister. “’Yes,’” says Ole, “’but tonight is the hundred and first wedding, and when that has taken place, it must be the last, therefore this is to be extremely beautiful.’” Yes, this is the last wedding, and the irrevocability of it hangs heavily over the story, which is dominated by the limitations and fixation that comes with marriage. HCA does love his fowls, so there’s a swallow and a hen present at the wedding to advise the bridal pair about where to settle down, and while the swallow speaks beautifully of all the sights to be seen abroad, the hen wins with her prudent, prosaic defence of their home country: “’Cold weather is good for cabbages,’ said the hen; ‘besides we do have it warm here sometimes. Four years ago, we had a summer that lasted more than five weeks, and it was so hot one could scarcely breath. And then in this country we have no poisonous animals, and we are free from robbers. He must be wicked who does not consider our country the finest of all lands. He ought not to be allowed to live here.’ And then the hen wept very much (…)”The best part of this satirical take on stupidity and cowardice in the name of patriotism is, however, the song the hilariously bad song that has been written by one of the guest (the led pencil) for the occasion: “’What merry sounds are on the wind,/as marriage rites together bind/a quiet and a loving pair,/though formed of kid, yet smooth and fair!/Hurrah! If they are deaf and blind,/we’ll sing, though weather prove unkind.”Hee! This never fails to crack me up. And having applied to go abroad to study next semester, of course this is totally grist to my mill. The Saturday story revolves around the Big Questions in life, and Hjalmar is torn between superstition and fact as the imaginative Ole has a battle of words against the portrait of Hjalmar’s grumbling great-grandfather who insists on reason and science. Ole, however, wins, and with him the power and omnipresence of imagination and dreams over petty nitpicking: “I thank you; you may be the head of the family as no doubt you are, but I am older than you. I am an ancient heathen. The old Romans and Greek named me the Dream-God. I have visited the noblest houses and continue to do so; still I know how to conduct myself to both high and low (…)’”  

This serves as a countdown to the last story which is, very appropriately, a story about Death. HCA ventures into meta-fiction here, one might say, as he describes Death as an older brother of Ole’s, that is, a storyteller just like the Dream-God. The afterlife is described as follows: “Hjalmar saw that this Ole Luk-Oie [Ole’s older brother, Death] rode on, he lifted up old and young, and carried them away on his horse. Some he seated in front and some behind, but always inquired first, How stands the mark-book?’ ‘Good,’ they all answered. ‘Yes, but let me see for myself,’ he replied, and they were all obliged to give him the books. Then all those who had ‘Very good’ or ‘Exceedingly good’ came in front of the horse, and heard the beautiful story; while those who had ‘Middling”’ or ’Tolerably good’ in their books, were obliged to sit behind and listen to the frightful tale. They trembled and cried, and wanted to jump down from the horse, but they could not get free, for they were fastened to the seat.” Apart from the fact that Death sounds kind of like a – well, like a horse’s ass, actually, it’s very interesting in a meta way that HCA makes storytelling the premise for the afterlife. Rather than frolic actively in the meadow’s of Paradise or writhe in pain in the flames of Hell, in the afterlife described in this story, we become forever subjects to our imagination, like passive children being told stories at bedtime. As such I think “Ole Luk-Oie” is an important part of HCA’s life’s work and a wonderful celebration of imagination and dreams – a celebration that I hope I haven’t sucked all the life out of with this interpretation. I love the story dearly and recommend it to any lover of stories out there. 

Happy 202nd Birthday, Hans Christian. And Happy April, everyone.

/marie

April 28, 2007. A Literary Year, Literature, The course of the year. Leave a comment.

Bette in Red

A friend sent me this wonderful picture. I have not much to add, but I’ll post it to celebrate a wonderful spring Wednesday and it’s the Liberation Day of Italy (1945) and the day of The Carnation Revolution in Portugal (1974) – as the same friend reminded me in a letter I received today (grazie!).
I think Bette Davis looks victorious and liberated (or ready to liberate herself if necessary) in this picture. Besides: someone covered her eye with a carnation.

Bette Davis

/anna

April 25, 2007. Photos, The course of the year. 2 comments.

Now, Drink Your Chocolate!

Last week I passed a couple of days in Berlin with my sister. The afternoon before our evening flight home we met this lady:

Waitress

In that bowl she had some steaming hot chocolate and she asked us to come with her. And as all the children of Hamelin followed the Pied Piper we followed her.

She led us to Fassbender & Rausch, the most wonderful chocolate house. They have a Pralinentheke (OMG!)where I bought a marzipan potato and some delicious truffles.
But the lady kept calling and she guided us to an elevator which took us one flight up to the Schokoladencafé. She seated us and served a cup of the most wonderful hot chocolate I have ever tasted together with this red currant dream:

Cake

Here you see me paying homage to the cake while I leave the chocolate for a short moment:

Eating cake

Not only we had been led there. All sorts of people were there, including children served by child waiters who looked to content their every chocolate desire:

Child waiter

I think perhaps this could be a slightly grown Stewie who teaches a child colleague how to drink.

Fassbender & Rausch have my warmest recommendations. Do not neglect it the next time you visit Berlin. And you know what? They had other cakes than the pink one. Which means I will have to go there again!

More cakes

/anna

April 23, 2007. Art, Photos, Travels. 8 comments.

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