Peer Gynt comes alive in new production
A Seattle Grieg sensation
LORI ANN REINHALL
The Norwegian American
On June 18, the Osberg Great Hall at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle will be filled with the sound of music again—the music of Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt,” with a new production brought to life by the Northwest Edvard Grieg Society (NWEGS), in collaboration with the Thalia Symphony.
At the helm of the project is soprano Laura Loge, president of NWEGS and a well-known interpreter of Grieg. Before the pandemic, she produced a series of concerts featuring the complete songs of Edvard Grieg, together with pianist Knut Erik Jensen and baritone Alan Dunbar. Both projects were put on hold (the final concert of the song cycle is scheduled for this fall), and there is enormous enthusiasm for what is to come.
Henrik Ibsen’s five-act play in verse was first published in 1867. Written in Dano-Norwegian, it is one of the most widely performed Norwegian plays, even today.
But it was the music of Edvard Grieg from 1875 that immortalized Peer Gynt for the most of the world. There’s the marching beat of “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” the opening tones of the “Morning Mood,” and the enticing, seductive melody of “Anitra’s Dance.”
While Ibsen’s original poem-play lasted a whopping four hours, to play the entirety of Grieg score to Peer Gynt would take nearly 90 minutes. For the production at the National Nordic Museum, selections of the incidental music have been chosen to tell the story, with the aid of a supra-title narration.
The production is a true collaborative community effort. In addition to the Thalia Symphony, Svend Rønning, professor of music at Pacific Lutheran University will be playing his Hardanger fiddle, a Norwegian chorale has been assembled, and folk dancers in traditional dress will kick up their heels.
And as Loge would tell you, it takes a village for a production like this to come together, with support from local Nordic groups, private donors, and public grants.
Visit nordicmuseum.org for tickets and more information.
This article originally appeared in the June 10, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.