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an operetta based on the life and music of Edvard Grieg

Lyrics and musical adaptation by ROBERT WRIGHT and GEORGE FORREST

New York run: Imperial Theatre, August 21, 1944 

Plot Synopsis

(From the 1964 Orpheus programme for Song of Norway)

A musical extravaganza, Song of Norway is based on indicdents in the life of the composer Edvard Grieg. The story opens with a prologue set in Troldhaugen, just outside Bergen. Bergen itself is high in the foothils of the mountains of Norway, and slopes deeply down to blue-watered fjords, flanked by tall trees and snow-capped mountains. It is Midsummer's Eve in 1860, and the poet Rikard Nordraak recounts the legend of Norway. Grieg is a humble, unknown and struggling composer whose genius is recognized only by his close friends, Nina, his sweetheart, and Nordraak, his great friend. 

Edvard and Nina have misunderstandings, however, brought about largely by the appearance of the glamorous and unconventional Countess, Louisa Giovanni. Finally, the sweethearts are married. The Countess exerts a strong fascination for Grieg, and he follows her to Rome, ostensibly to study music. There he is caught up in the frivolity of society, achieves world fame and wealth, but becomes increasingly unhappy. With the news of the death of his friend Nordraak, he immediately returns to Norway, and rejoins Nina. Together they devote their lives to fulfilling the dreams they had as children. Among the dreams is a 'Vision of Norway,' presented in a spectacular ballet that ends the production, set to the music of the Piano Concerto in A Minor, which Grieg dedicated to Nordraak.

About the Authors

Robert Wright and George Forrest both achieved their first successes in Hollywood where, in a writing partnership, they produced special material for stage and night-club revues, and contributed songs for anumber of screen musicals including Maytime, Firefly, and Sweethearts. They spent ten months of research on Grieg's works before making their adaptations for this production. Song of Norway opened in New York on August 21, 1944, and ran for over two years. This was followed by the impressive Magdalena, and in 1953 by the memorable Kismet, for which they employed themes by Alexander Borodin. Among their other productions were Gypsy Lady, The Carefree Heart and At the Grand. Some of their outstanding songs, in addition to "Strange Music" from Song of Norway, were "The Donkey Serenade" from The Firefly written for Allan Jones and Jeanette MacDonald after a theme by Rudolf Friml, and "Stranger in Paradise", "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" and "And This is My Beloved", all from Kismet.


Cast of Characters

Edward Grieg Lawrence Brooks
Rikard Nordraak Robert Shafer


Songs from the Show - Act One

Opening: Act I (Prelude) Orchestra
The Legend (Adapted from the A Minor Concerto) Rikard
Hill of Dreams (Also from the A Minor Concerto) Nina, Edvard & Rikard
Spring Dance and Halling (Norwegian Dance) Chorus & Dancers
Freddy and His Fiddle (Norwegian Dance No. 2) Einar, Grima, Freddy & Chorus
Now (From Waltz, Op. 12, No.2 and the Violin Sonata No.2 in G Major) Louisa & Chorus
Strange Music (From Nocturne and Wedding Day in Troldhaugen) Nina & Edvard
Louisa Discovers Grig (Ich Liebe Dich) Piano Solo
Midsummer's Eve (From 'Twas on a Lonely Eve in June and Scherzo) Louisa & Rikard
March of the Trolgers (From The Mountaineers' Song, Halling in C Minor, and March of the Dwarfs) Chorus
Hymn of Betrothal (To Spring) Mother Grieg & Chorus
Finale: Act I Entire Company 

Songs from the Show - Act Two

Opening: Act II Orchestra
Bon Vivant (Part I, Water Lily; Part II, The Brook) Edvard, Peppi & Chorus
Three Loves (From Albumblatt and Poem Erotique) Louisa & Edvard
Finaletto (From The Last Spring) Louisa, Rikard, Nina, Edvard & Chorus
Rigauden Gina, Waitresses & Dancers
Waltz Eternal Chorus
Peer Gynt Ballet (Solveig's Song, Anitra's Dance, Hall of the Mountain King) Adelina & Dancers
I Love You Nina
At Christmastime (From Woodland Wanderings) Chorus
Christmas Postlude Chorus
Finale: Act II (Concerto in A Minor) Entire Company


1964-1965 Production

Presented November 27-28 & December 1-5, 1964 at the Ottawa Technical High School, Ottawa, Ontario  

Production Team

Dramatic Director Tibor Feheregyhazi
Musical and Chorus Director Robert Van Dine
Choreographer Madame Nesta Toumine
Dances by Classical Ballet of Ottawa
Set Designer and Costumes Milt Wright
Production Manager Ken Meyer
Accompanists Lorna Rice, Percy Scobie


Einar Nick Michelis
Gunnar Bob Koloff
Sigrid Nancy Wilson
Helga Micki Amy
Eric Don Coates
Grima Isabel Amey
Christa Ann Phillips
Rikard Nordraak Don Laver
Nina Hagerup Sally Murphy
Edvard Grieg Stuart MacKinnon
Father Grieg Eddie Nunn
Mother Nordraak Elizabeth Knight
Mother Grieg Gwendoline Taschereau
Freddy Frederic Braun
Count Peppi LeLoup Clesson Goodhue
Countess Louisa Giovanni Elieen Wright
Elvera Claire Laver
Hedwig Linda Murdock
Greta Irene Aldrich
Marghareta Sylvia Carter
Miss Norden Elsa Pritchett
Miss Anders Jean Halley
Henrik Ibsen Milt Wright
Gina Sonia Donaldson
Pisoni William Roberts
Maid Jean Wheeler
Adelina Joanne Ashe


Irene Aldrich, Isabel Amey, Micki Amy, Doreen Brule, Sylvia Carter, Margaret Cattell, Norma Coll, Janet Ferguson, Dorothy Gough, Jean Halley, Claire Laver, Sharron McCormick, Linda Murdock, Margaret Owens, Ann Phillips, Carol Rose, Sandi Thomas, Jean Wheeler, Nancy Wilson, Evelyn Witwicki, Wayne Blatchly, Don Coates, Leo Harinen, Robert Koloff, Nick Michelis, Gordon Scott, Gerry Sheehan


Joanne Ashe, Carol Barrett, May Boyer, Janice Charleson, Jill Craig, Janet Galuga, Ann Ridley, Marilee Williams, Christopher Bannerman, Guy Bannerman, Frederic Braun, Albert Davey, Charles King, Boris Kotelewetz

Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor

played by Miss Winifred Canty


1964-1965: BIOGRAPHIES

STUART MacKINNON "Edvard Grieg"

A newcomer to Orpheus, Stuart was born in Halifax and attended law school at Dalhousie University. he studied music for many years under Teodor Briltz, and performed in university shows. Song of Norway is not new to him, for in 1954 he appeared in the chorus of this musical presented in Halifax by Bonanza Productions. In 1955 he moved to Toronto and studied at the Toronto Conservatory, participating in several Hart House presentations. He also took vocal coaching in London, England, and performed with the London Opera Society, Stuart came to Ottawa in 1963 and is a professor of law at the University of Ottawa.

EILEEN WRIGHT "Countess Louisa Giovanni"

A native Ottawan, Eileen started her musical training here and performed in ghigh school productions at Lisgar Collegiate. She graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto in 1950, winning several awards and scholarships in Toronto Kiwanis Music Festivals. Her wide experience includes many concerts, radio and television appearances. She is a member of the Ottawa Branch of the Registered Music Teachers Association, last year having been Vice-President, and is in her second term as President of the Laurentian Junior Music Club. She has been a member of Orpheus for fifteen years and appeared in nine previous shows, notably Kiss Me, Kate, Firefly and Merry Widow.

EDDIE NUNN "Father Grieg"

A much experienced actor, Eddie has played numerous principal and minor roles in Ottawa theatre over a period of twenty-five years. He has held executive positiions with the O.L.T. Workshop, Ottawa ACTRA, and at present is a member of the Board of Directors of O.L.T. One of the organizers of the Fisher Park Community Theatre, now the Phoenix Players, he was also this group's first President. he has appeared in films produced by Crawley Films, the National Film Board, and CBC television, has directed and adjudicated various young people's groups.

ELIZABETH KNIGHT "Mother Nordraak"

Elizabeth is a relative newcomer to the Ottawa stage, living here for jsut over three years. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, she studied music for several years there, and assisted in the organization of the Ogilvie Singers. Moving to Canada in 1960, she lived in the Montreal area for some time, and worked with the Rosemere Drama Workshop on several productions. Her first show with Orpheus was Down in the Valley presented in the First Annual Festival of the Performing Arts. She has participated in Orpheus shows since then and has worked back-stage on several O.L.T. performances.

SALLY MURPHY "Nina Hagerup"

Sally was born in Yonkers, N.Y., and raised in the Bronx, where she participated in amateur stage productions and took vocal training. She came to Edmonton, Alta., and after four years moved on to Ottawa. Her love of music led her to join the Schola Centi choir. First coming to Orpheus to audition for the chorus in Song of Norway, Sally was asked to read for the female lead and was completely astonished when she was given the role. This is her first show in Ottawa, and in fact in Canada.

DON LAVER "Rikard Nordraak"

A talented young musician from Edmonton, Don graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, following studies for five years on a Fred Waring Scholarship. he has appeared on NBC and CBS radio and television, won the North West Musical Festival in 1958, performed with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, had the role of Faust with the Alberta Opera Society, and participated in several Broadway shows by Edmonton's Orion Musical Theatre. Well-known in the Orpheus productions Show Boat and The Music Man, Don most recently appeared in the R.A. Society's Yeomen of the Guard. A sergeant in the RCAF Central band, Don had the great honour of appearing in the Royal Command Performance at Charlottetown in October.


A well known actress in Ottawa circles, Gwen was born in England, where she had her first taste of stage work, appearing in musicals for two years. Coming to Canada in 1948 Gwen was active with The Quebec Art Theatre, with the Theatre Arts Guild in Halifax and helped to found and was first President of The Travelling PLayers. Becoming interested in Child Drama, she took a course at Dalhouse University one summer with Brian Way. Moving here in 1958, Gwen joined the O.L.T. and played in three major productions the first year. She has also worked with the Phoenix Players and lately Upstart Productions, and has taught Child Drama in Ottawa.

CLESSON GOODHUE "Count Peppi LeLoup"

A familiar figure in drama circles in Ottawa, Clesson returns to Orpheus in yet another broad comedy role, such as he played in Sweethearts, Rose Marie and of course New Girl in Town. Born in Montreal, Clesson appeared in productions there for several years until 1942, when he moved to Ottawa. he has been associated with the O.L.T. for twenty years, and won the best supporting actor's award in the Dominion Drama Festival as the Mayor in Button Missing. He also had a character role in the recent film The Luck of Ginger Coffey.

TIBOR FEHEREGYHAZI (Dramatic Director)

A most active and talented gentleman, Tibor came to Ottawa in 1957 from Hungary, where he graduated from the Theatre and Film Academy of Budapest, and appeared in films and with the Hungarian National Theatre. In Ottawa he has worked both as an actor and a director with the O.L.T., Children's Theatre, and Fisher Community Players. With Orpheus he was assistant dramatic director of Show Boat and director of Can-Can. Accepted in the National Theatre School in Montreal last year, Tibor this year has been granted a scholarship through the Canada Council to continue his studies. This past October, Tibor directed a one-act play in the Montreal Festival of the Playwright's Workshop, which was highly acclaimed.

ROBERT VAN DINE (Musical and Chorus Director)

One of the best known musical directors in Ottawa, Robert has had a wide range of experience. He studied at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, the Juilliard School of Music in New York, the Royal College of Music in London, England, and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. Robert has performed in many concerts, radio recitals, and has been a church and oratorio soloist for over twenty eyars. He has been musical director of many groups, including the Tudor Singers, Van Dine Singers, Orpheus, R.A. Society and O.L.T. as well as taking leading roles himself in Gilbert and Sullivan productions and in Children's Theatre.

MILT WRIGHT (Set Designer)

Already well known as an imaginative designer to Ottawa theatre-goers, Milt has again designed the sets for this Orpheus production. He began his career in Winnipeg as special effects man with the Summer Theatre and the Musical Comedy Guild for musical comedies including Oklahoma, South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun and others, and also Winnipeg's Children's Theatre. Here in Ottawa he has distinguished himself designing several Orpheus sets, such as for The King and I and Show Boat, and as well has worked with the Genesian Players and Children's Theatre. This versatile artist has also been a designer of sets for CBC television.

NESTA TOUMINE (Choreographer)

Mme Toumine made her dancing debut in Ottawa before studying abroad. Joining the famous Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, she worked with many masters of the art, and toured Europe, North and South America. Returning to Ottawa to teach, she organized the Classical Ballet Studio and Company in 1949 and later the famous Concert Group, which has won such acclaim in the United States. Mme Toumine has restaged many of the classics and created numerous original works, and in 1962 she received a Canada Council grant enabling her to travel to Russia, Denmark and London to visit schools, observe classes and attend performances.

KEN MEYER (Production Chairman)

As President of Orpheus, Ken Meyer has had much experience gained through several years of activity on the Board of Directors as well as during productions themselves. Originally joining the Orpheus Workshop to help build sets, Ken has also assisted back-stage on many shows, been Business Manager on the Board of Directors, and is now President. Co-operating with the show directors, Ken is actually the co-ordinator of all committe work on Song of Norway, and as well, guides the membership in all phases of the Society itself.



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