“I see the role of the company to perform pieces that are not part of the mainstream repetoire. We are here to compliment the National Opera,” the group´s founder and singer Hrólfur Sæmundsson is keen to make clear. For this year´s production he has assembled a group of performers who are as all-embracing as the plot itself.
“At Sumarópera we try to find exciting young performers and who have enthusiasm and are willing to try new things, they need to be multi talented.” The orchestra is an example of this multi tasking. The drummer also plays the trumpet, while the banjo player is required to play the accordion, guitar and mandolin. The skills of one particular drummer though, Bogomil Font of Sugarcubes fame, will not be needed on skins this time.
“I met Bogomil when Ute Lemper was singing here earlier this year. I knew that he had recorded an album of Weill songs and when I told him we would be performing Happy End, he said something like ‘Give me a part, a drunken barman, anything…I love Weill.’ We´ve done far better than that. He plays one of the leads, Sam, and gets to sing the Mandalay song in drag, so I guess you can say he´s happy.”
The Brecht text has been translated into Icelandic by Hrólfur and there will be English subtitles and, although the play may not be as famous as Threepenny Opera, there are several familiar songs that feature in ths show, which in the words of the producers is a mixture of cabaret, play and opera. A parable of Chicago of 1919, drenched in the sleazy smoke and whisky atmosphere of the Berlin Cabarets of the period.
The theme of good and evil needing to overlook their mutual animosity in order to take on the real enemy – Capitalism – was not well received when it was first performed. Then a stained glass window featuring Brecht’s trinity of true evil, Henry Ford, JP Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, was hung over the stage for the final dramatic act. Capitalists a little closer to home will feature in the set of Sumaróperan´s production.
Happy End will run for a short season of only seven performances starting Saturday 7th at the Icelandic Opera House. Performances start at 20.00 hours.