Intermezzi from the opera Under Himlen was composed by Bent Sørensen in 2003. Scored for 2 Mezzosoparanos and Orchestra. Text by Peter Asmussen.
Programme Note: In March 2003, when the Royal Theatre premiered the composer Bent Sørensen’s and the dramatist Peter Asmussen’s opera Under the Sky, it was not only Bent Sørensen’s first opera on the large scale, but also his first work as a music dramatist at all. The challenge of composing an opera came from the general manager of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DR, Per Erik Veng, who had asked Asmussen in 1996 whether he would write the libretto for an opera and pick out a composer to work with on it. Asmussen was willing, and he pointed to Bent Sørensen as the composer. Bent Sørensen reacted positively to Per Erik Veng’s suggestion of an opera collaboration with Asmussen, and with the opera agreement settled, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra/DR was then offered an independent work. It is related to the opera, but sheds light on it from a different angle – Bent Sørensen himself compares it to a film ‘trailer’. The result is Intermezzi, a suite in five movements.
Intermezzi is expressly not just a garland of selected episodes from the opera, but an independent work built up in one long symmetrical sequence with instrumental passages in the middle of the first, third and fifth movements as well as the purely instrumental second and fourth movements, as the bearing pillars of the work. Fragments of the story of Ida and Molte (both mezzo-sopranos) are told, but they do not happen in the same order or with the same conclusion as in the opera. In this way Intermezzi becomes a comment on how not everything in the past is necessarily what it seems, or what one at first makes of it.
In the first movement Ida sings to Magius that she is carrying Molte’s child, while from afar Molte observes the idyllic world from the outside. The second movement is instrumental, while the third begins with Ida’s love aria, which merges into a great instrumental passage before the movement ends with Molte’s cynical remark that Ida is simply “a fairytale, a book one closes. After a brief instrumental fourth movement comes the fifth, where Molte laments his coldness and isolation amidst all the riches, and seduces Ida by urging her to liberate him with her warmth. Jakob Levinsen