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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sweden – 3 and 4 May 2008

Saturday we were invited to Eric Ericson’s and Monica’s for coffee. My parents met Eric briefly after he conducted the first concert with Choral Arts in 1993, but that’s the only time and, of course, Monica had never met them.



Eric and Monica are both so gracious and we had a great time for a little more than two hours chatting about a variety of things. I think, for Eric, it was also fun to see father and son together. Eric was in great form and both he and Monica have a wonderful, dry sense of humor. A lot of his former singers and students have talked about Eric’s tremendous sense of humor (something, perhaps, that you might not realize entirely if you’ve only heard him rehearse in English in North America). Someone should collect the “wit and humor” of Eric for his 90th birthday in October—not a project for me, but it should be done!

I also talked separately with Eric about some of the video projects he’s involved in and will help if I can.

Sunday was a day to take a steamboat out to Drottningholm, the “Queen’s palace,” which I’d seen before, but neither Kathryn nor my folks had. It’s now the regular residence of the King and Queen, but the building and grounds, formal gardens, Chinese Pavilion, including the surviving baroque theatre, are open to the public.



The 400-seat theatre is amazing. After the assassination of King Gustav III in 1792 (which by the way, is the basis of the Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera), the theatre was forgotten until the 1920s, so the original stage machinery and scenery survived. The theatre was restored and scenery and stage machinery copied, so baroque and classical opera productions there can be done in a truly authentic style (well, they do have electric lights now!). I saw a production of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail there in 1990 (thanks to tickets from Eric and Monica) and if you can, do see the Ingmar Bergman production of Magic Flute (conducted by Eric, by the way). It’s available on DVD and at netflix. Some of it was filmed at Drottningholm (although some of the theatre was recreated in studio), complete with stage machinery. A young Håkan Hagegård plays Papageno. Great fun (it’s sung in Swedish, by the way) and some truly Bergmanesque touches.

We were lucky to have beautiful weather, mostly sunny and warm (mid- to upper-60s for Fahrenheit people, 18-19 for Celsius ones). It’s also a scenic boat trip for an hour or so through Lake Mälaren to the island that is Drottningholm. Gorgeous day.

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