A new Swedish opera commissioned by The Göteborg Opera promises a fascinating story that rumbles right into contemporary life. When a highly regarded surgeon manipulates their surroundings, questions start being asked: How far can lies take someone, and what do you do when someone close to you is a mythomaniac?
Composer Paula af Malmborg Ward and dramatist, librettist, and writer Kerstin Perski are currently working on a new opera for The Göteborg Opera due to premiere in the spring of 2021.
The opera’s working title is Mythomania and it addresses a subject that Paula and Kerstin have both long been toying with.
“We live in a time that is manic with regard to myth. It’s as if we all have a need for mythomania and to beautify reality. To get life to ‘break out in colour’. We genuinely want to be fooled. We’ve all experienced that love for someone that makes you not want to see what you’re actually seeing,” says Kerstin, who also wrote the libretto for the Göteborg Opera’s last major commission, Notorious (2015/16), with music by Hans Gefors.
“We go after kicks and just ignore the consequences. Repression mechanisms and the dislocation of reality are visible in society at large, as well as closer to home. At what point does forgetfulness become repression? At what point does repression becoming lying? How far can lying take us?” asks Paula.
The charming and successful “swindler” is a fascinating character who makes the headlines and features in books and documentaries – and now in opera as well.
“The Göteborg Opera is excited to have secured the first main stage opera commission from Paula af Malmborg Ward and librettist Kerstin Perski. 2021, Gothenburg’s 400th year, is the perfect moment to present a new work from this important team – since Paula af Malmborg Ward is a Gothenburg resident. The subject – truth, lies, fantasy and deception – is an age-old human preoccupation, but in our confusing world, dominated by the hall of mirrors labyrinth of fake news, it takes on a new urgency”, says Stephen Langridge, artistic director for opera/drama.
What can be revealed about the plot?
A married, highly regarded surgeon meets another woman. The passion that follows draws three people into a dramatic love triangle in which everyone is forced to lie. The object of the two women’s love is a man that is publicly admired. But who is he behind his facade of success, and what is he hiding behind his contradictory behaviour? What role does lying play in a narcissistic era in which we have begun to believe that the unattainable may be within reach? When the truth comes out, who will dare to expose a liar that everyone wants to believe no matter what the cost?
Paula af Malmborg Ward and Kerstin Perski have worked together closely before, and soon after the premiere of Ärret (Vadstena Akademien 2004) they knew they wanted to do something together with the “swindler” as the central character.
Kerstin Perski has worked as a playwright, librettist, author, and freelance dramaturgist in Sweden and worldwide since 1988.
Paula af Malmborg Ward is a composer and writes orchestral works, chamber music, and stage music as well as music for television. In 2018, she was awarded the City of Gothenburg Order of Merit.
Mytomania (working name) will be performed on the Main Stage in the spring of 2021. It will feature five main roles, The Göteborg Opera Orchestra, Choir, and extras. Performed in Swedish.
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