Maskarade is based on the 1724 comedy Mascarade by the Danish playwright Ludvig Holberg, who is considered the founder of modern Danish and Norwegian literature. The world premiere of Maskarade took place at Det Kongelige Teater in Copenhagen on November 11, 1906. It was a resounding success from the start with an exceptional run of 25 performances over its first four months. The opera had its US premiere in 1972 with the St. Paul Opera in Minnesota.
The opera is considered Denmark's national opera and it has enjoyed lasting success in the country, attributable to its many strophic songs, dances and its underlying "old Copenhagen" atmosphere. In 2006, Denmark's Ministry of Culture named it one of Denmark's twelve greatest musical works.
The popular overture to Carl Nielsen's Maskarade:
The story revolves around Leander and Leonora, two young people who meet fortuitously at a masquerade ball, swear their undying love for each other and exchange rings. The following day, Leander tells his valet Henrik of his newfound love. He becomes distraught when reminded by Henrik that his parents have betrothed him in marriage to Leonora, the daughter of Leonard from remote Slagelse. Things get complicated when Leonard himself, whose daughter Leonora is the other part of this arrangement, comes complaining to Leander’s father that Leonora is in love with someone she met at the masquerade the previous night. In the third act, all is resolved when the various parties slip off to the night's masquerade, where all is revealed to everyone's mutual satisfaction.
Jens Søndergaard started his musical career with the Herning Boys Choir in Denmark. He graduated in 2003 from the Royal Opera Academy in Copenhagen, and debuted in 2005 at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. From 2004-2007 he sang at Das Deutsche National Theater in Weimar, where he specialized in Mozart, singing Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte and Papageno in Die Zauberflöte. He performed Elviro in Handel's Xerxes and Aslask in Åm's The Ice Castle at the Royal Opera in Copenhagen.
In 2014, he won the Ålborg Operapris (Aalborg Opera Prize).
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