Composer Solveig Sørbø and librettist / author Maria Kjos Fonn join forces to create an operatic adaptation of the novel Heroin Chic.
Photo by Marco Verch, edited by Solveig Sørbø. Source
Elise comes from a musical home at Uranienborg in Oslo. Everything is seemingly safe, yet she wants to get away from home. She wants to be weightless, not leave traces. She tries everything. Asceticism, transgressions, too little too much. Finally it’s there. The intoxication that gives her everything she has wanted – namely nothing. To fade out, get numb. Heroin chic is an opera about a social descent without any clear cause. About a disorder that is not soiled by external circumstances. It is enough in itself. The essence.
- About the librettist
- About the composer
- About the staging
- Example scenes
- Work samples – libretto
- Work samples – music
- Contact information
- Go to bottom
About the librettist
Maria Kjos Fonn is one of Scandinavia’s most acclaimed authors. She has written short stories and novels all hailed by critics, and is a columnist in nationwide newspaper Morgenbladet, as well as in the Oslo newspaper Aftenposten. She has also written – and performed – various stage texts, performed with music. One of these performances, The Politics of Emotion, a performance with stage texts read to music by Sandra Kolstad, premiered at the House of Literature in September 2019, followed by a tour in Norway and Europe before it was performed at the guest pavilion in Frankfurt in October, and finally in Berlin. The performance was produced in cooperation with NORLA and the Norwegian Book Year.
Maria’s novel Kinderwhore (2018) was nominated to the 2018 Brage Prize and the 2018 P2 Listener’s Prize. For Heroin Chic (also nominated to the P2 Listeners´ Prize), Fonn received Mads Wiel Nygaards Legat and The Natt & Dag Literature Prize. Kinderwhore hass been translated into Danish and German, and Heroin Chic will be released in Danish and German in 2022.
About the composer
Solveig Sørbø is an autodidact composer, music producer and musician who makes chamber music, film scores, vocal music, and alternative fusion. She has performed across Europe, is involved in an EEA project in Slovakia, and recently scored the film Hans + Liv (Norwegian National Broadcast) which lead to a collaboration with star violinist Arve Tellefsen and ECM artist Ayumi Tanaka. Solveig is interested in mixing symphonic sections with different sounds and tonalities and in exploring traditional folk instruments in a classical setting.
Besides her artistic activities, Solveig is an initiator of the music and science project MusicLab at the University of Oslo, which is supported by Norwegian Research Council and went international with a science concert featuring Danish String Quartet in October 2021. Solveig is also a host of the music show Solveigs Speisa Musikk (supported by the Norwegian Media Authority) airing weekly on radiOrakel and also available as a podcast.
Currently, Solveig is in the early phase of two musical dramas including a musical adapted from the youth novel Flaggermusmusikk (Fledermausmusik) (Tyra Teodora Tronstad, author and librettist) and the opera Heroin Chic, as outlined in this proposal.
Staging, cast and production
The opera will be realised in several sections during a two year period beginning with a winter solstice concert where “Lullaby at Sunrise” was performed, and the next step is likely going to be the church opera “Elise’s Funeral” followed by a few other productions before it finally will become a full-length opera.
1st chamber opera: “Elise’s Funeral”
The opera is situated in Elise’s funeral in which she herself is a soloist singer. There will be flashbacks to her childhood (“Lucia“), her youth during which she suffered from an eating disorder (“Duet of Bones“), her recurring substance abuse and abstinences (“Heroin“), her death (“Lullaby at Sunrise“) and finally we are back to the funeral during which she performs “Elise’s Lament“.
Roles for singers
- Elise (soprano)
- Elise’s mother (mezzo-soprano)
- Joakim (tenor)
- Anorexia (bass/baryton)
Elise, a young, talented and beautiful singer is characterized with being angel-like from the outside, but her soul is dark and numb, and she nourishes a death-wish but also a wish to always remain a child, she romanticizes anorexia and bodilessness while engaging in debauchery. The role’s tessitura and melodic style will vary with her age and with her deterioration.
Elise’s mother is warm and loving, but she essentially forsakes Elise by focussing on her success rather than the whole person. Her parts of the aria will be more harmonic, motherly and reassuring than those of Elise.
Joakim is Elise’s boyfriend. His role is sung by a tenor, and his vocal and melodic style will be hectic and rythmic, mirroring his roots in art rock and alternative subcultures.
Anorexia is embodied by a bass/baryton dressed in black. He is perhaps invisible to Elise, nevertheless he controls her. His singing will be dark, seductive and alluring.
- One plucked instrument (theorbo, harp, lyre, lute)
- One bowed or wind instrument (cello, double bass, horn)
- One melodic percussion instrument og keyboard instrument (piano, santur, vibraphone)
- Church organ
This will be discussed with the hosting / collaborating instutution(s).
The musicians can be integral to the action on stage. Their roles may change with the imagined changes of scenery, and they may have occasional spoken and / or sung lines which could eccho things said by other characters in the story, and also Elise’s subconscous thoughts and even her addiction. Using simple costume changes such as hoods and coats, along with smart lighting, their function as accompanying characters may change.
Timeline of production
The production will proceed in several stages. The first will be to finallize a vocal study / aria for Elise and piano. Secondly, a short chamber version will be produced consisting of 1 aria and 3 duets with recitative and instrumental parts in between. After the chamber opera has premiered we will develop the work into a full-length opera.
- Vocal work by xxxx.
- Piano scores and study material for the chamber opera will be submitted xxxx
- The final scores and parts will be submitted by xxxx
- The premiere and further performances take place in xxxx.
- Further development into a full-length opera, funding-dependent.
- Festival-showings and workshops along the way.
During each stage we will collaborate with the designated artistic team and cast and find a direction together.
Heroin Chic has religious undertones, and in the Christmas segment we explore “advent” as a framework for waiting for redemption – which is what Elise does when she’s hunting for a new dose. Elise’s sense of time running out, and wasted years, become clearer in a quiet advent season. In addition, Christmas reinforces the contrast to Elise’s memories of her happy childhood, and her loneliness and alienation. When Elise finally gets the shot, Elise comes as a child and wraps the adult Elise in a blanket. She sings an aria that symbolically points to Elise’s fall to the underground, while the soaring song and the child singer in a beautiful Christmas dress, contrasts it.
Work samples – Libretto
The following text samples are in Norwegian, but we trust that you will still be able to grasp their meaning, richness of symbols and musicality. We will discuss the issue of language with you should we get the project. We are open to many solutions, be it German language with help from a translator (in this case perhaps the translator of the German edition of the novel might offer some advice), an English version, or keeping it in Norwegian with subtitles.
- Lucia – a duet between Elise as a child and her mother
- Duet of Bones – a duet between Elise and Anorexia
- Heroin – a duet between Elise and Joakim
- Elise’s Lament – an aria sung by Elise
- Lullaby at Sunrise – an aria sung by Elise
Lucia – a duet between Elise and her mother
Roller: Elise som barn. rundt 11 år; moren hennes Roles: Elise as a child, around 11 years old; her mother Elise Er jenta som leker med støv med pulver og ulver og brennende løv Så skjør at jeg ikke kan falle Sykest og sterkest av alle Moren / The mother Elise, du lille, du lyse Nå må du ikke fryse Skjelver du, lille alv Ikke velt nå, ikke fall Elise Har en stemme som lyser Og lyskrans, men jeg fryser Jeg stråler og skinner Gløder og tindrer Og likevel er jeg kald Et tomt og tindrende skall Jeg vil være flink og snill Men er snart iskald av ild Moren / The mother Ingenting er farlig Bare du går varlig Lister deg lett på tå Svever, mer enn å gå Ikke glippe, ikke tippe Fremfor alt ikke slippe Jeg holder vakt over deg mens du sover Jeg passer på deg, jeg lover Elise Kan du pakke meg inn i et pledd? Jeg lover, jeg er ikke redd Jeg er din lille prinsesse og alv Selv om hånda mi skalv Moren / The mother Hånda mi er åpen og hul Der skal jeg holde deg, lille fugl Passe på deg til du dør Som prinsesser alltid gjør
Knokkelduett (Duet of Bones) – a duet between Elise and Anorexia
Roller: Elise, tretten år; Spiseforstyrrelsen, svartkledd skikkelse Roles: Elise, around 13 years old; Anorexia, a person dressed in black Elise På bildet på peisen i stua Er jeg den søteste, lille Lucia Så vever og lys og lett En skinnende vinner på stett Nå vokser jeg ut av rammen Hoftene, brystene, skammen Jeg vet ikke hvor jeg skal gå Jeg er vel en stor jente nå Spiseforstyrrelsen / Anorexia Du kan alltid være Lucia Med hellig Anorexia Hun skinte, men ble til slutt blind Lys kropp og evig mørkt sinn Det er et valg du kan velge Å lukke munnen og svelget Å si nei til sanselig næring Og ja til din egen fortæring Elise Ikke jente, ikke ennå en kvinne Et gap hvor jeg bare kan svinne Et tomrom, uendelig hvelv Hvor jeg legger fra meg meg selv Å bli høy på å være svimmel Synke mot en høyere himmel Kledd i en kjole i hvitt Sollys og små hvite snitt Spiseforstyrrelsen / Anorexia Kledd for bryllup, dåp og begravelse En lyskrans rundt din begavelse Flammen er blek og blå Det er et tall på din nakne tå Og tallet er lavt må du vite Under førti, for dette er ritet Vinneren sulter i hjel En sjel uten kropp, en kropp uten sjel
Heroin – a duet between Elise and Joakim
Roller: Elise, begynnelsen av 20-årene; kjæresten Joakim Roles: Elise, in the beginning of her twenties; her boyfriend Joakim Elise Flammen under en skje Som jeg koker løsningen med Putrer og sitrer Mens pulsen forvitrer Jeg vil ikke ha alibier Må se om det er som de sier At dopet i årene tørker ut tårene Aldri mer saltvann i sårene Joakim Jeg trodde vi kunne røyke og loke Ikke junke det, ikke koke Jeg trodde det holdt med folie Men du var stressa, urolig Å deale med dealere Er ikke for tvilere Du vil ha det mørkt og hardt Brenne skjea helt svart Elise Følg blodsporene dit jeg ligger Som en bikkje som tigger Det er kanskje litt her til deg Jeg deler med alle, jeg Tornerose fikk et lite stikk Hun sovnet mens årene gikk Kyss meg så kanskje jeg våkner Eller kanskje du også slokner
Elises klage (Elise’s Lament) – an aria performed by Elise
Roller: Elise, voksen, 25 Roles: Elise, adult, 25 Når jeg er lagt i jord Solist i mitt eget begravelseskor Liksminke, klede i hvitt Over min rå appetitt Glem meg, glem meg Glem mitt svinnende selv Men husk dette Husk mitt farvel Er skåret ned til knokler, ben Markspist og endelig ren Ribbet for svor, flesk og fett Dø ung, bli et vakkert skjelett Glem meg, glem meg Glem mitt svinnende selv Men husk dette Husk mitt farvel Et sprøytestikk i huden Og så bli til himmelbruden Gift i årene og i hodet Den siste nattverd i blodet Glem meg, glem meg Glem mitt visnende selv Men husk dette Husk mitt farvel
Voggesang ved soloppgang (Lullaby at Sunrise) / Gi meg solen (Give me the sun) – an aria performed by Elise
Roller: Elise, voksen, 25 Roles: Elise, adult, 25 Sola er tung og den synker Feit og slapp, men jeg synger Min egen voggesang Sopran ved soloppgang I begynnelsen var moren Og moren er støvet og jorden Stikk hull i meg med nålen La det bli lys inn i åren Ligger i sengen med mamma Blir bysset og lullet og ammet En sprøyte er navlestrengen Hun nærer meg med den i sengen I mørket skal sola forlise Og jeg skal slukne i lyset Skyt meg opp som et stjerneskudd Gi meg solen, når den har snudd Nå stiger solen Den blender meg Den skjærer meg Åh mamma, mamma! Gi meg solen når den har snudd! Gi meg solen, gi meg solen! Gi meg (solen)
Work samples: Music
- The overdose aria Voggesang ved soloppgang
- Five Songs of the Bodied
- Love Theme
- Sun + Skyman
- Reel / Presentation
The overdose aria Voggesang ved soloppgang (Gi meg solen)
First aria from the project, from the scene where Elise asks her mother to give her a heroin injection, resulting in an overdose. PS the piano part has evolved a bit since the recordning and creds are due to the santurist who made his own part based on a simple score.
Performed by: Susanna Wolff (soprano) Mirsaeed Hosseiny Panah (santoor) Visobel Black (violin) Sverre Indris Joner (piano) Librettist: Maria Kjos Fonn Composer: Solveig Sørbø Audio (stream or download): https://s.disco.ac/lnybmcwgvzxu From the lyrics: Nå stiger solen (The sun rises) Den blender meg (It blinds me) Den skjærer meg (It aches me) Åh mamma, mamma! (Oh, mother, mother!) Gi meg solen når den har snudd! (Give me the sun when it turns!)
Five Songs of the Bodied
Five Songs of the Bodied is a minimalist song cycle for voice and piano. Originally conceived for contratenor in order to reflect the frailty of the men, and their wish to be remembered as innocent boys, it has been arranged for a mezzo-range voice and piano, performed by Susanna Wolff and recorded in Hawk Studios.
Five Songs of the Bodied is inspired by stories of Syrian men who have committed, witnessed or been victims of (sexual) violence between men, something that is associated with both trauma and shame. The songs are nevertheless abstracted to apply to more general agonizing regret and the existential crisis that may follow – quite relatable emotions and states of mind to many. The song (Nothing) mentions a number of definitions of nothingness, as found in philosophy, mathematics and theology.
(Nothing) Do you own the key to infinity? Is there such a thing as a void? What do they call an empty set? Nothing. Nothing Is it God or is it godless? Antithetical to pure being What is devoid of properties? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing!
Performed by: Susanna Wolff (soprano) and Solveig Sørbø (piano)
Words and music by: Solveig Sørbø
Film by: Mali Galaaen Røsseth
Mixed by: Åse Ava Fredheim
View / Download scores here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qyi44imnx4q8d74/AACmZg8InDLoPFAB-3HlcWSTa?dl=0
Stream / Download audio here: https://s.disco.ac/hnvmseskeubu (it has not been mastered yet)
Love Theme was originally composed for the film Hans pluss Liv (NRK – Norwegian National Broadcast), but this new arrangement has been written for Arve Tellefsen and a small ensemble. In it Solveig Sørbø employs different timbres of the guitar mixed with warm cello and impressionist piano to accompany the ageing star violinist’s passionate musicianship.
Sun + Skyman
In Sun + Skyman Solveig Sørbø blends acoustic and electronic instruments, different tonalities, modes and textures. Link to the audio here.
Solveig Sørbø – Reel / Presentation
In this 4 minute video you get a quick impression of Solveig Sørbø as a composer.
Accompanying documents / samples
- Prosjektbeskrivelse på norsk rettet mot DNO&B
- Solveig Sørbø’s CV
- Maria Kjos Fonn’s CV
- Scores for Five Songs of the Bodied (Dropbox folder with PDFs, no log-in required)
- Work samples – Libretto (view / download from GoogleDoc, no log-in required)
- CV’s of participants
- Open the section “Work samples – Libretto” in a new tab
- Open the section “Work samples – Music” in a new tab
Composer Name: Solveig Sørbø Phone number: +4745095002 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: Solveien 45a, 1177 Oslo, Norway Librettist Name: Maria Kjos Fonn E-mail: email@example.com Address: Sandefjordgata 5E, 0464 Oslo, Norway