Friday, 14 September 2012

Stockholm, Sweden June, 2009

As many of you may know, I used to teach theatre and my husband continues to teach drama at the University.  So, it stands to reason that there would be a theatrical discussion connected to some place in our travels - London, New York - these would be the obvious choices.  And this is why I chose Stockholm instead.

Area of Gamla Stan

Many travel gurus and critics refer to the City of Stockholm as the "Venice of the North."  It's made up of several big rocks on which different areas of the city are housed.  Thus, making it somewhat a mirror of the multi-sectioned lagoon metropolis.  Yes, I know the same is said of St. Petersburg, Russia but I haven't gotten to that entry yet so you'll just have to wait.

Strindberg Museum

Our first theatrical trek was up (way up) the hill from Gamla Stan (see above) to the home of Swedish playwright August Strindberg (1849-1912), perhaps best known for his naturalist piece, Miss Julie.  He lived here in the self-proclaimed "Blue Tower" during the last four years of his life.  The exterior is quite unassuming and so not overrun with tourists.

Upon entering his home, we put little booties over our shoes in order to keep the floors in pristine condition.  It went a long way toward keeping the noise level down throughout the wooden-floored space as well.

The museum is roughly divided into two areas - the few rooms that Strindberg inhabited and spaces set aside for what is now his research library of 3000 works.  One room in particular houses a projector for a rather thorough and interesting documentary about Strindberg's life.  Collections of his plays with programs, scenic and costume design sketches and various translations and publicity on the plays themselves are smartly presented in these areas.

The living spaces have been reconstructed here with the original furniture, however, the textiles and wallpaper are replicas.  The bedroom is quite sparse with only a single bed and armoire.  The dining room was designed to mirror scenic elements from his plays and the study shows the meticulous way that Strindberg kept his home, most specifically his desk.  The apartment had no kitchen so Strindberg had his meals sent down from the landlord upstairs.


Stockholm's Opera House, known as Operan, was originally built in 1787, enlarged in 1895 in the Renaissance and Baroque styles, and fully restored in 1961.  The scheduled tour includes quite a bit of the building.  In the lobby, a number of lavish period costumes are  on display up the grand staircase.

We were also privy to the stage and the pit areas of the theatre as well as the royal box. The final part of the tour was, of course, the grandest.  The opulent gold, crystal and mirrors of the royal rooms was truly saving the best for last.


Drottningholm is a small island in the Stockholm environs on which sits the palace of the Swedish royal family.  You access the island by taking a small ferry from Stockholm for about half an hour.  As you approach the destination, the palace stands proud, awaiting your arrival.  Behind it are exquisitely sculpted Baroque gardens complete with glistening fountains.

The Court Theatre of Drottningholm (Slottsteater) is a marvel.  Built in 1766, this theatre continues to produce 17th and 18th century opera in its original setting.  It's a beautiful old proscenium (picture frame) stage with all the finery of hand painted perspective scenery.  I volunteered to run the still-functional wind machine so it gave me a brief chance to see the wings and fly spaces where all the "special effects" are controlled.  What a glorious piece of history but how anyone could sit through a three hour opera in those seats is beyond me.

Once again, my husband's excitement bubbleth over.  I know it's old but really!

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