Goran Forsling


life of Jussi Bjorling, Jussi Bjorling, Sliver Bird


It begins as it ends, Silver Bird, the opera about Jussi Björling, which was premiered in the Concert Barn in Vattnäs, Dalecarlia, Sweden, on 10 July. In other words, the ageing Jussi Björling is lying on his deathbed, looking back on his life, a not wholly unusual dramaturgical devise in literature, theatre and also opera. A fairly latter-day parallel is Leonardo Balada’s La Muerte de Colón (Death of Columbus) from 1992-1993. In a series of retrospective tableaux we follow Jussi from the endless touring of his childhood together with his father and his brothers, up to the unavoidable end. Th e opera has been announced as a declaration of love, a declaration where the originators do not fight shy of exposing the darker sides of Jussi’s life. Those sides, or rather that side, is his alcoholism, which runs as a black thread throughout the story. Th is is hardly astonishing, since Greta Sundberg’s libretto is based on Yrsa Stenius´ book Tills vingen brister (Th e Heart of Jussi Björling, 2nd edition 2011), the prime object of which is to explain, through the eyes of an amateur psychologist, the reasons why Jussi occasionally took to drinking. I don’t raise objections to the desire to give a nuanced picture of the world-famous and beloved tenor and not only depict a saga of success, but I deeply deplore that the result of this ambition has put the singer, the artist in the shade of the bottle.

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