6 August 2010
Lars, the neighbour who dropped him last night told us that we were fortunate in being here during, what is fast becoming a famous opera festival in Kopparberg. They are currently performingÂ La Boheme and I’m very much hoping to go one evening. The performance is in an open sided ancient barn, which is said to have the best acoustics in Sweden, The cast is, I understand, Â largely amateur but the principal roles are played by first-class professionals.. It smacks of the early days of the now world-famous Glyndebourne Â in the UK, which had a similar humble beginnings. Although Sweden has something similar to the UK Arts Council, Lars told us that the grants are very limited and tend to be dealt with by the municipality and this particular group is having difficulty surviving. However, its reputation grows year by year and there are even afternoonsÂ when special trains run from Â Stockholm,Â stop for the opera and then transports the opera goers back to Stockholm serving Â a first-class three course meal on a journey.. It sounds like a good night out.
The number of people was swollen even more today with the arrival of Michael’s oldest son William, who was looking very sparky. He came with Astrid, Michaelâ€™s amanuensis, in Sweden. The Irish and Schneider families went off to explore the historic town of Nora and in their absence Ruth arrived to spend the afternoon quietly, with me listening to music on my iPod, in the sunshine, and Michael reading Martin Gilbertâ€™s massive tome on Churchill.
From snippets I have heard from various people I have been able piece together, what I can call, Uno’s story. Apparently. some 40 years ago, 60-year-old Caroline came to stay at the farm guesthouse with a friend of hers and the chemistry spontaneously sparked between her and the 20 year younger, Uno. Two more different people from different backgrounds, Â you could not imagine. Caroline, was a well travelled, sophisticated San Franciscon and a talented musician. Uno was a rugged, back woodsman type, local farmer, who had scarcely travelled beyond the nearest town ofÂ Kopparberg.. They fell madly in love with despite neither speaking the others language. In the early days of their courtship, in order to demonstrate her love for the young Uno, Caroline cast off all her clothes and plunged into the icy lake in front of his farm, erroneously believing that this was the sort of thing that all Swedes did (apparently we, inÂ the rest of Europe, have been grossly misled over the years about the Swedish propensity for nudity) Despite the language difficulties, Uno persevered and soon learned enough English to enable the relationship to blossom. Although they never married they remained lovers until Carolineâ€™s death in her 90s. Uno survived another six or seven years before falling from a defective loft ladder in his barn, Â the injuries from which he never recovered. A true love story. I’m sure that Puccini could have written an opera using this love story or one of the Swedish songwriters have embodied it in a ballad.