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SONG OF NORWAY Book by Milton Lazarus taken from a play by Homer Curran based on the life of Edvard Grieg. Lyrics and musical adaptations from the works of Edvard Grieg by Robert Wright and George Forrest Imperial Theatre Broadway - 21 August, 1944 (860 perfs) Palace Theatre, London - March 7, 1946 (526 perfs) SYNOPSIS This spectacular and colourful operetta, using Grieg's best-loved tunes, tells the story of his rise to fame as a world-famous composer. His love for his childhood sweetheart, Nina, and his country is selfishly manipulated by the scheming opera diva Louisa Giovanni, who is besotted by Grieg and determined to keep him from Nina by using him as her pianist in world tours. Only through the love of his friends does he finally realise that Norway is where he will find true happiness. STORY: On a hillside outside the town of Troldhaugen, the poet Rikaard Nordraak amuses some local children with the myth of the nymph Norway. According to the story, Norway was imprisoned in a cave by the North Wind until a minstrel came to set her free with his song. Rikaard is happy today because Nina Hagerup, Edvard Grieg's cousin, has returned to town after seeking her fortune in Copenhagen. When Nina and Edvard arrive at the hill, the three young friends celebrate their reunion and, as they gaze at the view, look forward to a rosy future. Midsummer's Eve festivity preparations are underway in town, where the children are being entertained by a local musician. Arriving to enjoy the celebrations are the Parisian Count Peppi Le Loup and his rather amorous wife, the opera diva Louisa Giovanni. Shamelessly, Louisa announces to one and all her intention to flirt during the festival with any young men she fancies, not caring who hears her. Meanwhile, with romance in the air, Edvard proposes to Nina, who happily accepts. Louisa meets Rikaard and hears him sing a new song, with his lyrics and Edvard's music. She loves the music and immediately sets her sights on Edvard, inviting him to be her accompanist on a forthcoming tour. At the festival, Louisa enters the game of choosing a cake in which will be found the name of a future sweetheart but, when she tries to cheat by finding which cake contains Edvard's name, she only finds that of her husband. Her plans are further foiled when Edvard announces his engagement. Angrily, Louisa demands that Edvard must choose between his imminent wedding or her tour, the date of which has suddenly been brought forward. Sadly, Edvard and Nina delay their plans. The opportunity to travel and perform his new compositions has, within a year, made Edvard a European celebrity. At a reception in Copenhagen thrown by the Count, glasses are raised to the new star-status composer. He entertains the guests with a song he has written for Louisa. Nina and Rikaard, who are at the reception, are upset that Edvard has once more delayed plans to set a patriotic poem by Rikaard to music. Instead, he is to provide incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt and follow Louisa once more to Italy. Nina, therefore, gets in quickly and asks that they be wed within a week. In Rome, a year after the wedding, the Peer Gynt ballet is performed at Louisa's house, but Edvard does not attend the party afterwards. He feels he has lost his direction and has not even the heart to celebrate his latest triumph. He is with Nina when tragic news arrives that Rikaard has died. It is now too late to speak to his friend of their artistic collaboration. Guilty at not having set his poem to music while Rikaard was alive, he agrees to return to Troldhaugen with Nina. Louisa makes one last desperate attempt to keep him with her, but her guile is no match for Nina's unyielding love. He tells Nina that he now realises where his heart lies. At home, they join in the festivities with Edvard's new song and Nina and Edvard celebrate their rich and rewarding life together beneath the strong and beautiful Norwegian mountains.