MIC's Listen to Norway series continues with Den Norske Opera's soloists and choir/The Norwegian Radio Orchestra: Egil Hovland: Fange og fri
The opera Fange og Fri (“prisoner and free” (man)) is one of the major efforts of classical composition in Norway in the last decades. Finished in 1997, after six years work by the then ageing composer Egil Hovland, it is beyond question his masterpiece and the work that crowns his lifelong contribution.
The opera concerns the life of one of Norway’s most important and enigmatic historical personae, the evangelical preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge.
Hauge made a huge impact across the land in the early decades of the nineteenth century and became such a threat to the government and the clergy that he was imprisoned for ten years.
The opera’s title refers to the Christian conception of freedom as conditioned by Grace and the Holy Spirit, and thus not something possible to physically restrict.
Egil Hovland grew up in a grass-root Christian environment that in many ways owes its existence in Norway to Hauge. Therefore the opera is a personal homage to the man, who in Hovland’s eyes is a martyr, and it seeks to expose, and emphasise on, the many beneficial effects Hauge’s movement brought to the poor masses.
The opera text is written by Britt G. Hallquist who became deeply interested in Hauge after Hovland invited her to the project. Her narrative is based on the factual life of Hauge with certain elements added for dramatic effect.
Recorded at the Norwegian state-broadcasting corporation (NRK) the production features the choir of the Norwegian opera and the NRK orchestra. The soloists are all among Norway’s most accomplished, with international experience and recognition.
Conductor Tree Boye Hansen has had a long and distinguished career working with opera and ballet as well as orchestral music.