The demon barber of Fleet Street is back in business and a cut above the rest. The Icelandic Opera has recently started showing Stephen Sondheim´s highly comical horror opera, Sweeney Todd.
The infamous tale is about a vengeful barber named Benjamin Barker who comes back to London, having previously escaped from wrongful banishment by the evil judge Turpin. He resumes his old profession as a barber under the assumed name of Sweeney Todd, but after killing a man who threatened to reveal his identity, his lonely neighbour Mrs. Lóett persuades him to let her use the human meat in her pies. After this there is no turning back. They both become very successful, Sweeney shaving and occasionally killing his clients, Mrs. Lóett baking the best pies in London. Sweeney believes that he will soon get his revenge on judge Turpin, but will Sweeney´s murdering ways bring justice to him or him to justice?
The stage design
Sweeney Todd is the most multilayered set that the Opera has ever put up comes as a fresh breeze with its clever, complex and impressive stage. The designers were Snorri Freyr Hilmarsson and Stígur Steinþórsson and their design sometimes steals the show completely. The barber chair Sweeney uses is a pivotal part of the show. An ordinary old barber chair from the Operas´ makeup room was given an upgrade to become the cold and vicious instrument of the murdering Sweeney Todd. By a pull of a lever the bodies are thrown down a trapdoor straight from the chair down to Mrs. Lóett. Both the chair and the trapdoor turned out to be a difficult task for the designers as sliding singers safely off the stage down a shoot is not as easy as it sounds.
The Icelandic translation is masterfully done by Gísli Rúnar Jónsson and directed by Magnús Geir Þórðarson. The title role is in the hands of newcomer Ágúst Ólafsson and he is accompanied by some of Iceland´s best opera singers.