Mats Carlsson, tenor: A Tribute to Jussi Bjorling.
2011 marks the centennial of the birth of beloved Swedish tenor, Jussi Bjorling (1911-1960). One of the performances you won't want to miss...
Mats Carlsson. photo: Per Sandberg
..if you're in New York, Rhode Island, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Ann Arbor, San Francisco... is the gala concert earlier performed at the Stockholm Royal Opera now on tour in the U.S..
Mats Carlsson with the Södertälje Opera in 2007. Playing Enzo Grimaldo from La Gioconda. Photo: Emelie Joenniemi
As we talk over Skype, Swedish tenor, Mats Carlsson, had just barely finished unpacking after a tour to India. The prized opera singer and Björling interpreter will be on yet another plane in a day, destined for New York and a string of concerts in the U.S. to celebrate the Swedish master singer Jussi Björling.
“It will be great to have finally arrived at the performances, to finally present this program to the American audience,” said the Royal Opera tenor while resting for 48 hours at home in Stockholm. “The concept of live music [Carlsson performs together with pianist Love Derwinger] combined with the pictorial presentation of Jussi’s life by Björling expert Bertil Bengtsson is exciting. I look forward to many inspiring moments and new contacts.”
The renowned tenor became familiar with Björling's voice during studies under Erik Saedén at the Royal Opera Academy in Stockholm.
“Jussi was a role model for Erik, who used to always bring out the singer’s recordings to exemplify just how the accomplished Björling would treat a certain passage. Björling became a role model not only for his amazing voice, his ability to really move people, but also for how he treated singing. You don’t get to enjoy a close to 45-year career without singing smart—that is, avoiding to push your voice or stress it unnecessarily.”
The Swedish singer, who at one point had plans to pursue a career as a guitar player, finds it hard to compare Jussi’s greatness with any one singer today. “First off, the joy of listening to a voice or music in general, while international, is highly personal. Secondly, today there’s more noise from and through a greater variety of media than in Jussi’s day. If I were to compare him to an artist of today it would be a more popular name such as Britney Spears or Michael Jackson. Such was his super star standing.”
His favorite Björling song?
“It would be either “Tonerna” (Visions) by Carl Leopold Sjöberg, which is part of the repertoire on this tour, or August Söderman’s "Trollsjön" (The Enchanted Lake), which will have to be part of my next U.S. performance.”
Mats Carlsson, who’s equally at home in opera, oratorio, lieder and Scandinavian song, feels the national romantic timbre of Nordic composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries resonates well with an international audience. “The texts practically douse us in Nordic light, and the music, often melancholy, brings thoughts to the forests, lakes and love.”
Since leaving the Opera Academy, Carlsson has established himself as one of the most sought after tenors in Sweden in both opera and concert. Does he have a dream role?
“Not really. To me it’s all about connecting with the audience. It’s not the role, an aria or a scene, it’s the meeting with a live audience I live and work to accomplish, to be able to perform in such a way that I make a difference to someone.”
We hang up to allow the master singer a few moments with his family—two daughters and his wife in Stockholm—prior to leaving for New York City.
Carlsson has performed in the U.S. in Rockford, Illinois, St. Peter, Minnesota and Charleston, South Carolina. The present tour, really more of a multimedia experience, covers a good part of the Northeast, the Midwest and a performance in San Francisco. He will also give master classes at Brown University, Providence, RI and Chicago’s North Park University.
A Centennial Tribute to Jussi Björling
October 27 - New York
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, 55 East 22nd Street
October 29 - Cranston, RI
Rhode Island Center for the Performing Arts
October 31 - Washington D.C.
House of Sweden
November 02 - Philadelphia
Ethical Society of Philadelphia
November 04 - Chicago
North Park University's Anderson chapel
November 05 - Ann Arbor
Kerrytown Concert House
November 07 - San Francisco
SF Conservatory of Music Concert Hall
See events listings at www.nordstjernan.com/calendar/ for ticket information
Find out more about the artist Mats Carlsson and listen to samples from his repertoire: Mats Carlsson
Listen to Björling's interpretation of Tonerna (Visions) 'Tonerna' - YouTube and Trollsjön (The enchanted lake) by August Söderman (not part of this tour Trollsjön - YouTube