Kverndokk to compose for new National Opera House

Renowned Norwegian composer Gisle Kverndokk has been commissioned to write a new family opera that is to be premiered at Oslo’s new National Opera House in 2008.

Operaen i Bjørvika - Snøhetta illustrasjon

Around the World in Eighty Days
‘Jorden Rundt’ – ‘Around the World’ is the working title of composer Gisle Kverndokk’s opera in progress that will see its premiere in 2008 by the time Oslo’s grand new opera house is completed. Kverndokk’s new work is based on Jules Verne’s’ classic ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ and is set to be a family opera featuring librettist Øystein Wiik with whom the composer has had long and successful working relationship.

Says Kverndokk to Norwegian daily Aftenposten: “It’s fascinating to create an opera for the new opera house. It’ll be a brand new work and the plan is to make it a family concert. I think it’s positive that the Opera also finds room for performances for children.”

Oslo’s New National Opera House is scheduled to be completed by 2008. The new building, which is situated by the city’s waterfront in the Bjørvika area, has been drawn by internationally renowned architect firm Snøhetta (well-known for Egypt’s Alexandria library as well as NY’s new WTC Cultural Center).


Kverndokk, born 3 February 1967, studied composition with Ragnar Søderlind before attending studies at the Norwegian Academy of Music with Olav Anton Thommessen, Lasse Thoresen and Alfred Janson. Kverndokk has also studied with John Corigliano and David Diamond at the Juilliard School in New York.
His orchestral work ‘Selene’ was one of the winners at the 1992 Juilliard Composer’s Competition, and in 1993 his ‘Initiation’ for violin and orchestra secured him the first prize in the competition for composers under the age of 30 at ROSTRUM in Paris. Kverndokk has written two solo concertos, both premiered by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; ‘Concerto for oboe and orchestra’ in 1996 and ‘Concerto for flute and orchestra’ in 1998. His work ‘Peer Gynt Fantasy’ was written for violinist Arve Tellefsen and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for the Holmenkollen Summer Concert – premiered in 2000. During the 1999-2000 season, Kverndokk served as composer of the year with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. February 2003 saw the premiere of his concerto for violin, piano and orchestra, ‘The Crystal Cabinet’, performed by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kverndokk’s first opera, ‘Falketårnet’, saw its premiere in 1990, performed by vocalists and musicians from the Norwegian Academy of Music. His children’s opera ‘Georg’s Marvellous Medicine’ was commissioned by the Kristiansund Opera and premiered there in 1995. The opera won the Norwegian Society of Composers award for Work of the Year in 1995 and it has subsequently been performed by the Norwegian National Opera, Opera West in Bergen, The Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany. The work has also been produced in a radio version that featured the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.

Kverndokk has composed several musicals with librettist Øystein Wiik. Their first collaboration was the ‘Sophie’s World’ musical that saw its premiere during the 1998 Ettlingen Castle Festival. The Norwegian premiere of the musical took place the following year at a major customised hangar/theatre facility located at the former Oslo airport Fornebu. 2001 saw the premiere of the musical ‘Vincent van Gogh’ at the Ettlingen Castle Festival, and in 2002 his musical ‘Farlige Forbindelser/Gefährliche Liebschaften’ (‘Dangerous Connections’) was premiered at the Theater Pforzheim in Germany. Autumn 2003 saw the premiere of the Kverndokk/Wiik musical ‘Frendelaus’ at the Norwegian Theatre in Oslo.

With librettist Ivar Tindberg, Kverndokk has written the radio-opera ‘Bokken Lasson – stumbling success’ for the national radio channel NRK P2. The work earned him the first prize at the 2000 Prix Italia in Bologna. Their opera based on Norwegian writer Johan Falkberget’s novel ‘Den Fjerde Nattevakt’ will see its premiere at the Norwegian National Opera in November 2005. The work will also be presented at the Røros Winter Festival in 2005, a festival that features Kverndokk as composer in residence. Kverndokk has also received a commission for a new opera that is to be premiered in the first season of the new national opera house now under construction in Oslo.

2005 will see Kverndokk’s debut as a movie score composer with his contribution to the Danish feature film ‘Kinamand’, directed by Henrik Ruben Genz.

Kverndokk masters the flute and piano and is an active theatre and orchestra musician. He has served stints as musical director and conductor for a number of music theatre productions in Norway, Germany and Canada.

Kverndokk has been awarded the Anders Jahre’s cultural prize for young artists, a grant from the Wilhelm Hansen Family’s legacy in 1997 as well as the Lili Boulanger’s Memorial Fund at the Boston University in 1999.

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