The Swedes are lucky. They have the fabulous Daniel Harding leading their radio symphony orchestra for one thing. And some days ago they gave a New Year’s concert with none other than Welsh bass barytone Bryn Terfel. Watching the show, which was a soft cocktail of opera, operetta and musical pieces, I was reminded of one of my favourite memories.
Some seven years ago I lived in Rome for a semester studying at the university and there I encountered one of my to this day closest friends. One afternoon I was visiting him and we were listening to opera together, me quite frantically explaining why it was all so wonderful. And while explaining I got so excited I just switched from Italian to my mother tongue without even noticing it. It became a sort of defining moment to our new friendship me unconsciously believing he would understand me even in Danish…
The thing I was so in to was Jago’s credo from Verdi’s Othello. Especially the part where he talks about death and the hereafter. Which according to Jago is nulla – nothingness.
He goes: “E poi… e poi? La morte è il nulla” (“And then… and then? Death is nothingness.”)
That quote has been a recurrent joke between me and my friend ever since. When you think of it “and then” is used quite often when you tell of something, so you can if you’re in the right mood turn a perfectly innocent conversation into a matter of life and death and full-blown existentialism just by dramatically adding “la morte è il NULLA!”
So we do of course. All the time.
But here it is with Bryn Terfel acting like hell. That discrete kind of interpretation is perfectly Jago – enjoy the coldness of his eyes.