Life is beautiful…

Archive for March 2011

This week I got a call from my aunt who told me that she had extra ticket for a classical concert with Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Since it was on my list of things to do I accepted and thought to myself that even if I wouldn’t like it I would at least get a fun night out with my aunt. I have never been to a real classical concert before. My closest experince of such would be a few recitals in my music school. But there is something that tells me that fifteen kids butchering the far too overly used pieces on piano, violin or flute is perhaps not the best way to experience classical music.

When we walked into the concert hall we heard the musicians tuning their instruments and the conductor and soloist walked onto the stage.  I got excited but also felt a bit out of place since I had no idea how to behave in these circumstances. The conductor was Gennadíj Rosdestvenskíj and the soloist who played the first half was actually his son, Alexander Rosdestvenskíj. He played Violin concerto no. 4 by Alfred Schnittke with the orchestra. I liked his performance very much and as far as I can tell he is a great musician but I’m still not sure what I felt about that piece. It was messy and especially for the untrained ear it broke down generalized ideas of what music should sound like. Alexander did a short extra piece with his mother who played the piano. It was also by Schnittke and was a lot more fun – I can safely say that I liked that one.

After the break the orchestra played Symphony no. 8 in C minor (Opus 65) by Dmitri Sjostakovitsj. That one was powerful, exciting and I thought it was pretty good. I was getting a little tired though so in the two slow parts of the symphony my mind wandered a bit. I think you need to train yourself for this kind of culture:) Overall it was a delightful experience and I would definitely go to a classical concert again.  

Until next time…

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King Lear

Posted on: 5.3.2011

In February I went to see “King Lear” in The National Theatre of Iceland. One of my favourite theatre buddies came along and we were excited to see the play and compare it to the other Shakespeare play we saw a while back “The Tempest”. I wrote about that one in my last post. This one was very long, with the break it was more than three hours but I sat through it without being bored.

King Lear is a tragedy about a king who is getting old and has to divide his kingdom to his three daugters. He decides that they will each get a share of his kingdom in portion with how much they love him. Since one of his daughters is not willing to promise to love only her father, she doesn’t inherit anything but her love for her father turns out to be greater than her sister’s.

I knew nothing of the story before I saw the play. The only thing I did know was that it was a tragedy and was written in early 17th century. I was surprised to see that I followed the text pretty well, there were one or two monologues that I didn’t understand word-by-word but I got the main idea.

In the opening scene the stage was filled with hundreds of red, blue and white helium balloons that were floating with strings some two meters in the air. I heard someone point out that the dresses of the three daughters were actually in these colors. Cordelia the youngest was wearing white and continued to do so throughout the play but the other sisters wore darker and darker outfits as the plot progressed. The balloons were used a lot throughout the play for various effects, they were used to show a party, comedy, as a hiding place, as sound-effects and even as they had all been blown up there were some limp balloons in one scene that indicated that ‘the party was over’.

I did not find the actors outstanding. The daughters were not very believable but I liked the performance of Arnar Jónsson as Lear. He was at times hard to understand but I sympathized with his characters. The play also had one of my favorite Icelandic actors, who was great here as always Eggert Þorleifsson.

The music was okay, a playback that was backed up by a live cello. I didn’t notice it being used very much for the purpose of adding something to the experience. I remember that sometimes I wondered about the lighting. It was usually great and eg. clearly indicated the difference between day and night. But there was one scene where the lights came all the way down and were very yellow and I didn’t see the point.

I cannot finish this post before I talk about the rain! There was pouring rain on the stage for full 40 minutes and it was beautiful, wet and cozy. I really loved to see that and it made this play a great experience. The only thing, me and my friend agreed on that one, was that sometimes you couldn’t hear the actors clearly through the splashing sounds of the rain. But mostly it was a great addition.

I will remember this play for a long time. It was very interesting and fun.  As with The Tempest I give the play four stars and would recommend to adults to seniors, theatre lovers.

That’s it for now