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Komponist: Dagfinn Koch, Librettist: Malin Kjelsrud

Prosjektbeskrivelse, musikkteater


«Skyggesønnen» er basert på en sann historie fra norsk rettsvesen, som vi synes er ideell for musikalsk scene, litt i samme historiske landskap som Which Witch, Anne Pedersdotter, Wozzeck og Les Miserables. Vårt ideal er at all tekst synges til gjennomkomponert musikk. Ev kan korte partier snakkes. Solide melodier og ledemotiver som er lett å huske. Hver scene baserer seg formmessig musikalsk på klassiske formmodeller som f.eks. rondo og scherzo. Jf. Alban Berg Wozzeck. Vi ønsker å undersøke hva som kan skje når et samfunn blir rammet av massehysteri, lettantennelige rykter og datidens syn på verden og det hinsidige, hvor myter og demonologi har stor plass. Vi vil også vise at det var forskjellige standarder for kvinner og menn. På denne tiden er det farlig å være annerledes og særlig kvinne. Men det er ikke bare heksekunster som kan føre til bøddelen, det kan også god, gammeldags sjalusi gjøre. Karakterenes handlinger får store konsekvenser, og de har konflikter som ikke bare er ytre og samfunnsmessige, men også med seg selv og sine nærmeste. De er levende og ekte, med gode og dårlige sider, og de modnes gjennom stykket. Saken fikk stor oppmerksomhet i sin samtid. Kong Christian V kritiserte saksgangen i 1688, og og rettspraksis ble endret etter dette. Petter Dass har omtalt saken i sin «Nordlands trompet».

Det var pianist Stefan Zlatanos Ibsen som i 2018 gjorde oss oppmerksomme på denne saken. Vi har gjort og fortsetter å gjøre omfattende research, for det er mye som må avdekkes i denne historien. Takk til Ketil J. Zahl som kom på tittelen.


Composer: Dagfinn Koch, Librettist: Malin Kjelsrud
Project description, musical theater


There is a wedding in the village and everyone is at the party! But as it often does when alcohol enters, wit and inhibitions exits. The big flirt in the village, Niels, is testing boundaries between innocent flirtation and infidelity – with several women. His wife Synneve has had it with his mischief. And then she registers that Niels is flirting with the beautiful, charming Nille, who everyone knows is frivolous. The wedding party is over when Niels finally gets beaten up by the husbands and boyfriends of the ladies he flirts with. Synneve drags him home, angrily, to mend his wounds. Apologies and promises of change reconcile them once again. But Niels cannot change. Synneve, who has felt let down for a long time both emotionally and practically on the farm, becomes jealous and angry when Niels and Nille continue their flirtation quite openly. She decides to play Nille a trick, but it is a deed that gets terrible consequences. Synneve pretends to be a ghost who claims to be Nille’s son who accuses his mother of having killed him as an infant 14 years ago. The accusations creates hysteria in the village, where old superstitions and myths about dredgers are alive and well. The new and ambitious vice-reverend Hartwigsøn investigates the case and interrogates Nille. Anxious about losing face, and eager to make a career, Hartwigsøn strives to convince his skeptical superior, parish priest von Möinichen, that the story is true. During tough interrogation, Nille is accused of being loose and with Satan’s help leading innocent men into misfortune. Testimonies and evidence are not on her side. Hartwigsøn convinces her that she will be sentenced to death, but she can still save her soul. Only by confessing she may get to heaven, otherwise hell awaits. The trial is carried out in a manner worthy of criticism, and Nille Jensdatter is executed on December 16th 1687. Synneve is left with a guilt and remorse she can never talk to anyone about, and Niels continues to flirt with everyone.


It was pianist Stefan Zlatanos Ibsen who in 2018 made us aware of this case. We are doing extensive research, because there is a lot that needs to be revealed in this story. «The Shadow Son» is based on a true story from the Norwegian judiciary, which we think is ideal for the musical scene, somewhat related to «Which Witch», «Anne Pedersdotter», «Wozzeck» and «Les Miserables». Our ideal is that all lyrics are sung to thoroughly composed music. Ev. short parties can be spoken. Dagfinn creates solid melodies and leitmotifs that are easy to remember. Each scene is based musically on classical form models such as rondo and scherzo, cf. Alban Bergs «Wozzeck».

We want to investigate what can happen when personal motives of revenge lead a society into mass hysteria, flammable rumors and fake news, and that we want to point out the hypocrisy of different moral standards for women and men. In the 17th century, it was truly dangerous to be different, especially if you are also an outgoing, popular woman. For it is not only witchcraft that can lead to the executioner, so can good old-fashioned jealousy do. We want to make these characters alive and real, with both good and bad sides, and they mature throughout the play. However, their actions have major consequences. Synneve is really just afraid of losing her husband, because at this time it is difficult to be a woman alone. She feels betrayed and ignored, and thinks that her husband should be at home and pull the load with her, not stray around the village with other women, and especially not with Nille. Nille is everything she herself is not: beautiful, funny, kind, well-liked. She is so popular, especially among men, that she is gaining a reputation for being loose. Niels is a handsome man, but is tortured by his low self-esteem and are afraid that people will reveal him as the fake he feels he is. At home, he only gets yelled at and constant complaining from his wife, so the attention he gets outside the home feels much nicer. Synneve does not reflect upon the consequences of what her impulsive action do to Nille. It was just supposed to be a small scratch in her perfect and successful surface. But the rumor grows beyond all control and everything just gets awful. Nille has, the way we choose to interpret the story, never had a child. But she chooses to confess to the murder anyway. We believe it is a combination of her being hard pressed during interrogation and the priest managing to convince her that she is going to die and will end up in hell if she does not confess. Her need to claim her innocence comes into conflict with her faith. Synneve to her astonishment discovers that Niels continues to flirt, so Nille died a completely meaningless death.

This case received a great deal of attention at the time. King Christian V criticized the proceedings in 1688, and the law was changed after Nille died. Petter Dass has mentioned the case in his «the Nordland Trumpet». Thanks to Ketil J. Zahl who came up with the title.