Bellman from the opera to the gutter

Was the Swedish national poet Carl Michael Bellman just a drinker and troubadour, as is the common impression? If so, where did he get his influences? The truth is that a significant portion of the music we today associate with Bellman has its origin in the opera and classical music!

This program explores Bellmans place within his time – his interactions with the church and the royal family, but also his sources of inspiration. Bellman was a huge fan of the predominantly French operas which King Gustav III brought to Sweden, and this is reflected in his music. But he also took inspiration from contemporary dances, folk music, and music by composers such as Johann Helmich Roman and Georg Friedrich Händel.

We have created our own interpretation of Bellmans music with a starting point in these influences and what contemporary sources say about his own performance style and explore the many sides of his life and artistry. Bellman the comedian who makes fun of church and King, and Bellman the royalist, who willingly praises the powers that be, especially if there is a penny to be earned. Bellman the drinker and womanizer, and Bellman the family man. But we also explore his collaborations, as with the composer Johan Martin Kraus.

As part of the program, we present a number of the opera arias that Bellman was inspired by together with his own versions of them.

Staffan Liljas –  voice
Karl Nyhlin – lute

From the program

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