Enthusiast Gjøril Songvoll, founder of the organization “Opera To The People” has always had one goal: to get as many people as possible to like opera. She has done so in many ways, and one of them is through the popular Opera Pub Nights which has emerged at various water holes in the Norwegian capital. The Opera Pub has now resurrected at the newly established Røverstaden in downtown Oslo.
“A four-hour opera can seem daunting to many,” says Songvoll. “While opera excerpts in relaxing and familiar surroundings often is a liberating experience.” The Opera Pub has been a home for opera singers one day a week where new talents have joined forces with experienced opera stars performing beautiful opera arias.
Related: Opera to the People
According to Statistics Norway only 10% of the population like opera. “That’s nonsense,” says Songvoll. «Sold-out performances at the Opera in Oslo and other stages around the country and full rooms at the Opera Pub evenings and Lørdagsopera (Saturday Opera) indicate something completely different.”
Oslo Opera Pub On The Move
“In the Opera Pub, the audience comes close to the singers and skepticism is turned into enthusiasm,” says Songvoll, who organized the first Opera pub at Dockside 18 years ago! Opera Pub has since spread euphonic pleasures at a cloed-down pub in Oslo Central Station, Cafe Amsterdam, cocktail bar Pigalle, and now in Røverstaden, which many inhabitants in Oslo remember as Club 7.
Opera Pub in Oslo is now a collaboration between Røverstaden’s Torstein Løvlid and “Opera til folket” (Opera to the People).
Related: Opera Pub in Oslo
An evening with star performers
Every Wednesday is Opera Pub at Røverstaden. At our visit recently, two singers were soprano Randi Røssaak, who is educated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo and achieved her Master in Opera from University College of Operahögskolan in Stockholm in 2012 and mezzo soprano Gro Bente Kjellevold, who is educated from Barratt Dues music Institute and the Opera Academy in Oslo.
Pianist of the evening was Dorina Komani, who has won numerous international awards in piano competitions. She has studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo with world names such as Leif Ove Andsnes and Håvard Gimse.
The opera pub concept
The Opera Pub concept is not only singing to people with special interest, but also attracting new people into the world of opera. “Even great singers agree to be paid low fees because they believe in what we are doing,” concludes Gjøril Songvoll.
That’s the reason why no entrance fees are required.
Oslo Opera Pub On The Move, written by Tor Kjolberg