Walpurgis Concert in Berwaldhallen

Welcome to an evening of opera highlights with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and multiple-award-winning soprano Christina Nilsson, and a bouquet of delightful spring songs with the Swedish Radio Choir, a concert conducted by Patrik Ringborg. Music is an integral part of spring, this season usually full of jittery anticipation and budding emotions – for Swedes, classic choir songs are particularly important – and, if anything, the opera repertoire is filled with emotion.

The concert was played on Thursday 30 April 2020 and livestreamed on Berwaldhallen Play and at Swedish Radio P2. You may reexperience the concert 30 days afterwards.

Susanna’s and Figaro’s expectations on their upcoming wedding are palpable in the festive overture to Mozart’s opera Le Nozze di Figaro. Count Almaviva has expectations of his own, however, of exercising his right to the first wedding night with the bride. In The Barber of Seville, which takes place several years before Le Nozze di Figaro, the eponymous barber Figaro helps his good friend Almaviva woo his beloved Rosina, but their marriage turns sour in the time that passes between the two operas. In Dove sono i bei momenti, Countess Rosina recounts her lost happiness and the moments of joy and intimacy that have turned into lies, falsehood and anguish.

Like the emotionally drained Countess Rosina, Ariadne – abandoned by her lover Theseus – mourns her loss on the deserted island of Naxos. If only the god Hermes, she laments in Es gibt ein Reich, could transport her to the land of the dead where everything is pure. To live, she states, is but a burden, but he can purify her heart from life’s devastating torment.

Franz Berwald struggled with his career as a composer, never truly getting that big break. He had much greater success as a ground-breaking orthopaedist, and later also the manager of a glass factory at Sandö north of Härnösand in the middle of Sweden. Berwald probably had great expectations on his opera Estrella de Soria when it finally opened at the Stockholm Opera and received positive reviews. However, is next and final opera, The Queen of Golconda, didn’t open until long after Berwald’s death.

Expectations are central to the plot in Così fan tutte, where the petty Don Alfonso promotes his belief in women as notoriously unfaithful. Thus, Dorabella and Fiordiligi are subjected to a malicious test by their grooms-to-be, but Fiordiligi staunchly maintains that she will be as steady as a rock, Come scoglio, if faced with any temptations. Wagner’s only comedic opera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, centres on the young lovers Eva and Walter. Before they can be wed, Walter has to win the city’s singing competition. Fortunately, they have a friend in master-singer Hans Sachs, and it is to him that Eva sings O Sachs! Mein Freund! in the opera’s third act.

Chrysanthemum, also known as florist’s daisy, is an attractive feature of garden beds and window boxes alike. It has been around in China since around 500 BC where it was historically regarded as a medicinal herb. According to a medical material from around 200 AD, Chrysanthemum ”alleviates the body, slows down ageing and prolongs life”. In his string quartet piece I Crisantemi, Puccini probably wanted to convey the sheer beauty of the flower, but followers of the ancient Chinese medical teachings may have expected it to bring them closer to the divine.

Francis Poulenc’s seven songs are gentle and thoughtful settings of poems by Paul Éluard and Guillaume Apollinaire. The texts grow from pangs of yearning to expressions of desire, and back. None of the seven songs are particularly long, so they leave you wanting more rather than wishing they’d been even shorter. While recognisably French throughout, the songs themselves offer some variation, from the sweeping La blanche neige to the languishing Par une nuit nouvelle, and the final song, Luire, with its contrasting pastoral lyrics and powerful, declamatory music.

19th century monarch Prince Gustaf of Sweden and Norway, who was also an active composer under the artist’s name “G*****”, is remembered today for a few works in particular. One of them is his Spring song, more commonly referred to by the first few words in the lyrics, “Glad såsom fågeln” or “Merry like the bird”, or even – at least among children’s or school choirs – as simply “Glad sås”, which literally translates as “Merry sauce”. The same is true of Jacob Axel Josephson’s Serenade, a title neither as unique nor as memorable as the poetic opening words, “Stjärnorna tindra re’n” or “The stars already glitt’ring”.

Text: David Saulesco



dot 2019/2020





The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is a multiple-award-winning ensemble renowned for its high artistic standard and stylistic breadth, as well as collaborations with the world’s finest composers, conductors, and soloists. It regularly tours all over Europe and the world and has an extensive and acclaimed recording catalogue.

Daniel Harding has been Music Director of the SRSO since 2007, and since 2019 also its Artistic Director. His tenure will last throughout the 2024/2025 season. Two of the orchestra’s former chief conductors, Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen, have since been named Conductors Laureate, and continue to perform regularly with the orchestra.

The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra performs at Berwaldhallen, concert hall of the Swedish Radio, and is a cornerstone of Swedish public service broadcasting. Its concerts are heard weekly on the Swedish classical radio P2 and regularly on national public television SVT. Several concerts are also streamed on-demand on Berwaldhallen Play and broadcast globally through the EBU.


32 professional choristers make up the Swedish Radio Choir: a unique, dynamic instrument hailed by music-lovers and critics all over the world. The Swedish Radio Choir performs at Berwaldhallen, concert hall of the Swedish Radio, as well as on tours all over the country and the world. Also, they are heard regularly by millions of listeners on Swedish Radio P2, Berwaldhallen Play and globally through the EBU.

The award-winning Latvian conductor Kaspars Putniņš was appointed Chief Conductor of the Swedish Radio Choir in 2020. Since January 2019, its choirmaster is French orchestral and choral conductor Marc Korovitch, with responsibility for the choir’s vocal development.

The Swedish Radio Choir was founded in 1925, the same year as Sweden’s inaugural radio broadcasts, and gave its first concert in May that year. Multiple acclaimed and award-winning albums can be found in the choir’s record catalogue. Late 2023 saw the release of Kaspars Putniņš first album with the choir: Robert Schumann’s Missa sacra, recorded with organist Johan Hammarström.

Patrik Ringborg är en av Sveriges internationellt mest efterfrågade dirigenter med en bred konserterfarenhet och en operarepertoar som omfattar över 90 verk. Sedan 2022 är han förste gästdirigent vid Malmö Opera, där han redan lett en lång rad produktioner. Han har varit förste kapellmästare vid Aalto-teatern i Essen, chefsdirigent vid teatern i Freiburg och gästat de flesta stora tyska operahus. Som Generalmusikdirektor vid Staatstheater Kassel ledde han under tio års tid över 150 konserter och 27 nyproduktioner. 2010 debuterade han vid operan i Köln med nypremiären av Rosenkavaljeren, inklusive Dame Kiri te Kanawas avskedsföreställningar.

Som förste gästdirigent vid GöteborgsOperan dirigerade han bland annat Göteborgspremiären av Tristan och Isolde 2003 och premiären av Valkyrian, en nyproduktion av Salome, urpremiären av Hans Gefors Notorious och 2022 Gösta Nystroems Herr Arnes penningar. Vid Kungliga Operan har han bland annat lett den omskrivna premiären av Parsifal i regi av Christof Loy och urpremiären för Daniel Börtz Medea, samt Kungliga Hovkapellets 490-årskonsert.

Ringborg har dirigerat över trettio orkestrar i Tyskland, däribland Dresdens statskapell, Frankfurts Radios symfoniorkester, WDR Västtyska Radions symfoniorkester i Köln och Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, samt varit verksam i många andra länder. I Sverige har han arbetat med samtliga större orkestrar. Han har gästat Kungliga Filharmonikerna i över 25 år och lett orkestern vid exempelvis Nobelprisutdelningen 2008 och utdelningen Birgit Nilsson-priset 2022.

Ringborg tilldelades Svenska Dagbladets Operapris 2014 för produktionerna Parsifal och Rhenguldet och var överst på Opuslistan 2015. Han är ledamot av Kungliga Musikaliska Akademien och förärades 2022 utmärkelsen Litteris et Artibus.

Young Swedish soprano Christina Nilsson took her master’s degree at the Stockholm University College of Opera in 2017, but has already performed at Berwaldhallen, the Stockholm Concert Hall and the Royal Swedish Opera, as well as at Opéra national de Lorraine and Opéra de Lyon in France. In 2018, she debuts as Aida at the Royal Swedish Opera, where she has previously played Anna in Min bror är Don Juan (My Brother is Don Juan) by Niklas Brommare. In 2017, Christina Nilsson won first prize in the Renata Tebaldi International Voice Competition. The year before, she won both First Prize and the Audience Prize at the Stenhammar competition. She has received the Jenny Lind as well as the Birgit Nilsson scholarships.

Approximate duration: 1 hr 35 mins (with intermission)