The Park, Swedish premiere at the Malmö Opera, April 2018:
Notorious, world premiere at the Gothenburg opera, September 2015:
When transforming Notorious into an opera, Hans Gefors has invented his own sound, turned himself as a composer inside out and brought out an opera music that flares and trembles in all nuances. And it offers salsa as well as samba and also quite magnificent choruses. It is a music that pauses, breaks out and bursts, emanating from a pulse following Hitchcock’s rhythmical editing and flowing pictures, while intensifying the expression to an operatic level – not rarely into the sheerly spine-chilling. Something that the conductor of the evening, Patrik Ringborg, contributed to with his supreme musical direction.
Gefors uses clearcut means: well-structured material, latino rhythms, twists from the history of music. In one virtuoso scene, the stage is divided into three parts – a party conversation, the guests (sung by the chorus) and the horrific discoveries in the basement – while Gefors is layering the music as dextrous as a Verdi or a Mozart. Here, as always, Patrik Ringborg does a splendid work together with the orchestra.
Gefors' rare instrumentation with saw, electric guitar, odd brass sounds and Latin American percussion is another of this opera’s true strengths. The score must be a thriller itself with all different rhythmical layers, but the conductor Patrik Ringborg manages to conduct orchestra and ensemble cohesively in grand musical arches while preserving the extreme suspense.
And the music is rich. Gefors has created a multifarious score, vocally rewarding and in the orchestra filled with expressive, imaginative ways of interpreting and reinforcing the characters of the piece. … Patrik Ringborg at the conductor’s desk controls everything completely.
The composer has made the most of it: the versatile score is flooded with staggering colouristic effects, accentuated by Patrik Ringborg leading an extremely alert and attentive opera orchestra. The colouring is not the only hallmark: you also find condensed, lyrically beautiful or temperamentally intersected melodic lines, with an ear for the personality of every singer.
The instrumentation with enforced percussion is being handled brilliantly by the conductor of the evening. Patrik Ringborg has the events on stage as well as in the orchestral score completely under control, and this is a necessity in order to make this comprehensive music to blend into a whole.
The orchestra and the chorus of the Gothenburg Opera excels under Patrik Ringborg's direction.
Gefors succeeds with further clever whims in his score. The choral scenes, for example, are dramatically moulded, loud or with hissed sounds, lending the opera its ”notorious” character. The South American flair of Rio resounds again and again in the percussion, while short motifs in the violins [sic!] brings crying seagulls to mind. Alongside the singers, the instrumentalists won't give away that they are performing a brand-new piece. Under Patrik Ringborg’s musical direction they all seem to excel full of vim.
A new opera based on Hitchcock’s thriller is flawed but superbly performed
Gefors and his stage and music directors Keith Warner and Patrik Ringborg struck gold in booking Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, and have shaped the Bergman role of Alicia around her ability to alter the colour and focus of a room with her singing. Gefors has used this power skilfully, in long, ringing phrases, but also in glittering orchestral writing that hangs off the magnetic quality of Stemme’s voice. The music is outstanding throughout, both agile and colossal, redolent perhaps of Bernard Herrmann’s score to Vertigo, not in style but in its ability to transform our perception of time and physical possibility.
The stellar cast includes, alongside Nina Stemme, the world’s greatest Wagnerian soprano, Katarina Karneus, in a brilliant performance as Madame Sebastian, John Lundgren, Michael Weinius and leading from the conductor’s podium Patrik Ringborg. Keith Warner’s production, which coincides with Ingrid Bergman’s Centenary, is a thrill not to be missed.
As the icing on the cake the orchestra of the Gothenburg Opera under the direction of Patrik Ringborg excels in an extraordinary way in this world premiere and if newly written music always sounded this well it would be a joy sitting in an opera auditorium several evenings every week.
In 2009 the idea was born to compose an opera based on Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Notorious and in Gothenburg Hans Gefors has been able to surround himself with an ideal team to carry it out. Starting with a librettist, whose abilities must soon be exploited again, to a cast carried by Nina Stemme as well as an excellent orchestra… The orchestra of the Gothenburg Opera conducted by Patrik Ringborg brings the score justice in a superb way, bringing out the sensitive parts as well as gathering the forces for highest suspense.
The Swedish conductor Patrik Ringborg cultivates all these stylistic brain waves, holds the ensemble together in the intricate rhythm and accompanies the singers, who have a hard task.
An enormous world of sound breaks the silence from the pit, indicating that we are in a musical landscape of an unusual kind. Under conductor Patrik Ringborg’s firm direction the orchestra, enriched with components not common in an orchestra pit. This task was bestowed upon Ringborg already in 2011 and he has since monitored the composition process. … With a Swedish quartet of soloists of world-class interpreting a newly written Swedish opera after one of the great icons of film business accompanied by the fantastic orchestra of the Gothenburg opera one can but cease the moment.
Passion. The psychology is given musical wings. ... And it works remarkably well. The opera opens or rather explodes in an orchestral whiplash or even stroke of a sword which is a strong call to keep the ears open to further, highly dramatic accents (like the famous opening of Luis Buñuel’s debut film The Andalusian dog where a razor cuts through an eye, though there it is about a brutal call to keep the eyes open). Open ears for an intensity and energy in the higher registers rarely achieved. And here the resources are not lacking, orchestrally nor vocally. What a crew! It is a sheer attack, but Patrik Ringborg on the conductor’s podium holds everything in a supreme grip as master of events.
…a suggestive music, that the forces of the Gothenburg Opera under Patrik Ringborg’s direction passionately are making the most of. The orchestration either moves through microstructures, giving life to the pulse in a huge percussion section or through surfaces or rather waves that rise, grow and are calmed according to the dramatical turns.
Patrik Ringborg let the opera sound with great verve, and the chorus and orchestra of the Gothenburg Opera were at work with noticeable devotion.
Until just before the premiere on September 19th, Gefors has worked on details together with Patrik Ringborg, music director of the Kassel Opera and a permanent guest conductor in Gothenburg, to optimize the (dynamic) balance between orchestra, chorus and soloists. The result: an appealing, varied, sophisticated, efficiently built music for the (Guckkasten-)stage. ... Patrik Ringborg knew already in 2011, that he would conduct the series of twelve (!) performances after the world premiere. The staying power paid off: Whether guest soloists or choir and orchestra of the opera house, whether the British staging team or the stage crew - all pulled together and proved, that also a «conventional» (film-)opera, following the tradition of the genre with arias, duets and ensembles, can enrich the repertoire. At least, when it presented in a musical drama so allusive, tongue in cheek, individually tinted as in Gothenburg.

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