Opera Scotland

Nordisa

Music

Frederick Corder (born London, 26 January  1852; died London, 21 August 1932)

Text

The Composer

Source

Original

 

Premieres

First Performance: Liverpool (Royal Court Theatre), 26 January 1887.

First Performance in Scotland: Glasgow (Royalty Theatre), 15 November 1887.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.

 

Background

Nordisa was one of a number of new works commissioned by Carl Rosa from several promising British composers. It was taken to Drury Lane for its London premiere on 4 May 1887, before being toured to Scotland. After Rosa's death it was dropped from the repertoire, and has never been revived.

It seems to have been something of a hybrid in style. It is certainly not a grand opera, since it contains spoken dialogue and the music is generally light and tuneful in character. And yet the climax of the second act is a spectacular scene including an avalanche - a device not even the scenic designers of the Paris Opéra attempted to depict. The Gilbertian device of babies swapped at (or soon after) birth also seems a strange insertion in a serious work, though Il trovatore is perhaps a precedent for that.

 

Characters

Nordisa, a peasant girl (soprano)

Count Oscar Lydal, a young aristocrat (tenor)

Baroness Nymark, his aunt (mezzo-soprano)

Minna, the Baroness's daughter (soprano)

Lieutenant Frederick Hansen (bass)

Andreas Brand, an old soldier (baritone)

Halvor, an inn-keeper, brother-in-law of Andreas (bass)

Margit, Halvor's wife (soprano)

Pastor (baritone)

Young Shepherd (mezzo-soprano)

 

Plot Summary

The action takes place in Norway in 1750. The plot opens with villagers and traders celebrating the local fair. The baroness and her daughter arrive, along with Lieutenant Hansen, who is mutually attached to Minna. The baroness is contemptuous of village life, but the young couple enjoy its simple pleasures. Count Oscar now arrives. He is formally engaged to Minna, and an old friend of Frederick's from schooldays. He explains to his friend that he actually loves a local girl, Nordisa, who is Minna's foster-sister.

Nordisa, taking the view that she has no dependents so would not be missed, has volunteered for the duty of spending the winter at a hut high in the mountains, tending those animals that can't be brought down. She is led up there by her friends and is blessed by the pastor before being left alone. She is joined by Oscar, and their affectionate duet is interrupted by a storm. They are only just in time to take shelter in the hut before it is buried in an avalanche.

Several months later, winter is over, and Oscar, having spent those months in Nordisa's hut, is now back in the village and about to marry Minna. Nordisa's reputation has been somewhat tarnished due to her spending so much time in Oscar's company, even though 'nothing happened'. It is at last discovered that, when Nordisa and Minna were out at nurse as infants, they were swapped in error, so Nordisa is the Baroness's real daughter, and Minna of lower birth. This allows a satisfactory resolution by which Nordisa can marry Oscar and Minna can marry Frederick.

The Cast

Andreas Brand
 an old soldier
Baroness Nymark
 Count Oscar's aunt
Count Oscar Lydal
 a young aristocrat
Halvor
 an innkeeper, brother-in-law of Andreas
Lieutenant Frederick Hansen
 
Margit
 Halvor's wife
Minna
 Baroness Nymark's daughter
Nordisa
 a peasant girl
Pastor
 
Young Shepherd
 

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