Song of Norway – Jones Beach Marine Theater 1958
Song of Norway opens with a prologue set in Troldhaugen, just outside Bergen. It is Midsummer’s Eve in 1860 and the poet Rikard Nordraak recounts the legend of Norway. Nordraak is a great friend of the musician Grieg and his sweetheart Nina, and together they look forward to lives extolling the beauties and traditions of their country. In the second scene, Edvard and Nina have misunderstandings, brought about largely by the appearance of an entirely fictional character, the Countess Louisa Giovanni, but at length all is resolved and the sweethearts are married. The glamorous and unconventional Countess exerts a strong fascination for Grieg, however, and he follows her to Rome, ostensibly to study music. There her is caught up in the frivolity of society and becomes increasingly unhappy. When the news of the death of his friend Nordraak arrives, he immediately returns to Norway and rejoins Nina, and devotes his life to fulfilling the dreams they had spun as children. Among his dreams is a “Vision of Norway,” presented in a spectacular skating ballet that ends the production, set to the music of the Piano Concerto in A Minor, which Grieg dedicated to Nordraak.
Edvard Grieg: John Reardon Rikard Nordraak: William Olvis Nina Hagerup: Helena Scott Countess Louisa Giovanni: Brenda Lewis Mother Grieg: Muriel O’Malley Count Peppi La Loup: Sig Arno Orchestra and singing ensemble under the direction of Lehman Engel