Haugtussa – The Mountain Maid ( Video )


This weekend I’ve had the chance to sit down with a cup of tea and reflect on my first performance of Grieg’s ‘Haugtussa’ as a complete song cycle. My Dad was able to come to watch when I performed in Edinburgh and I was so grateful to him as he stood at the back of the room and held his video camera over his head for the entirety of the evening so that I could listen back. Hopefully, next time he’ll bring a stand so he can relax and enjoy it. (Perhaps Santa will leave him one under the Christmas tree 🙂  )

Normally I struggle to watch myself as often I can be very critical. However, I read a book recently whilst I was preparing for my auditions and it recommended to list what you did well first and then rather than say “I did that terribly”, immediately start thinking how you can improve it.

For example in this video one of the things I would like to improve is my ability to keep my vibrato spinning at the ends of phrases to create a better line.

But for this blog post I am sharing this video with you as a work in progress as I would love to continue with my research into these pieces and work hard to improve my performance of them.

The song I have chosen is “Veslemoy”, it appears second in the cycle of the eight songs. Veslemoy is the real name of the young girl, and Haugtussa is her nickname meaning ‘mountain maid’. The text in this song describes her physical appearance as being thin and slender with brown pure features. It also mentions how she appears to be touched by magic allowing her to see into other realms. The second verse goes on to explain that despite her appearing calm she is still a young beautiful girl trembling and frail.

This description in some way prepares us for what is to come, as the story develops over the remaining six songs Haugtussa meets a boy and she feels her emotions blossom into a first love but sadly she is left waiting for him in the cold. He never returns.

Me with George Todica in Troldhaugen where we performed in Grieg’s house during our stay in Bergen, Norway.

I’m very excited to work on this cycle as it is rarely performed in the UK in its original Norwegian and yet the music and poetry are so touching and beautiful. I hope to record the whole cycle next year and would love to share them with you.  George and I have been working with these songs for over six months now and they’re still a work in progress, I hope that you enjoy them on first listening and that they can grow on you to become favourites as they have done with me. This gives me an opportunity to really listen and appreciate George’s sensitive interpretation and emotional connection to these beautiful songs.

Translation :

She is thin, dark and slender
with brown, pure features
and her eyes are deep and grey
and she has a soft dreamy manner.
It is as if it, half and half,
lay a spell over the whole of her.
In movement, speech and everything she has a muted calm.
She has a muted calm.
Beneath her lovely forehead,
Her eyes shine as if behind a mist,
It is as if they staring, saw far into another world.
Only her breast goes tight and heavy
And her pale mouth quivers.
She is trembling, frail and weak
At the same time she is beautiful and young.
She is beautiful and young.

Here are some links to the posts that I wrote about my time in Bergen 🙂

Edvard Grieg – Composer
Soprano Packing!
Just Arrived In Bergen
Day 2 – Welcome To The Grieg Academy
Day 3 In Bergen – So Inspiring
Enthralling Lectures, Inspirational Performances and Great Company
Bergen – The Final Concert

71 thoughts on “Haugtussa – The Mountain Maid ( Video )

  1. Lovely. Absolutely lovely. You have such an amazing voice. Also I have to say your gown is just adorable and quite becoming. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I liked that I felt very free with the music and that it allowed me to be brave enough to take dramatic risks. There’s still lots more to do with the piece and my minds been full of ideas all day having watched them back.
      It was great having my Family and George’s host family when he first came to the UK in the audience 😊
      Best wishes

      1. That is a great way to look at it. You have the performance, ask yourself what you have achieved and then where you want to go, building off of the positive. Much better than only looking at the negative and what you want to improve. To my ear it sounded great already so you have a good base to work from 🙂 (yes, I understand looking from the artist’s point of view…)

  2. I can really appreciate how much you put into your performances. I have been reading “Sessions with Sinatra: Frank Sinatra and the Art of Recording”. It’s a real insight into the work it takes to be a great singer. You are doing beautifully. Just keep at it. It’s worth it.

  3. Lovely singing! I am wondering why they do not sing in English. Perhaps, pronunciation of words do not match. The meaning of the song is also beautiful and I would like to get a better feeling along the singing.

    1. I have lots of English songs in my repertoire but this full cycle was created in Grieg’s Norwegian language from a local poem in order to keep the language alive. Maybe I could sing it in English that would be another challenge. However I do feel that some of the colours are in the original language and in the use of onomatopoeia occasionally. When I first sang Song to the Moon in its original Czech people asked me if there was an English version, there is, I just don’t feel it’s as emotional as the original composition.

      Best wishes

      1. Dear Charlotte Song to the Moon is so beautiful I sure wish I could of heard you singing it. If you get the chance go to YouTube and look for Frederica Von Stade singing this beautiful work.
        I really hope you’ll listen to her.This is such a moving work I love it.Any video of you singing it? I couldn’t believe you posted your singing Grieg’s songs so soon Thank You So Much. I am going to watch your video tonight I know I’ll love it. I’m sure Grieg would love the attention your giving on his work. Your fan Ken from California USA.
        PS. I love your dress very pretty and of course you in it.

    1. Thanks Annette, I hope one day to do the cycle full justice, I believe it found me for a reason 😊. It’s not very often heard and the songs just get better with time.
      Best wishes

      1. You are most welcome, Charlotte, Looking forward to hearing more. May this be a beautiful and blessed holiday season for you and those who mean the most to you. <3

    1. Thank you Janice, the conservatoire makes sure we singers are very conscious of our vocal health, ensuring that we don’t try to sing out of our natural range at this stage as the voice changes such a lot whilst you’re young. Really pleased you enjoyed it.

      Best wishes

  4. Charlotte thank you, happy to listen to you accompanied by Georges. Your interpretation is that teachers of Norway said. The rainbow of your voice merges with the harmonics of the song. We feel the emotion of the composer and the one you want to send us (same with the music of George, he puts his energy in the intention of the score) and your voice and the music lead us in a dance image and feelings. And congratulations to retain the original language, thus maintaining the dialogue between words and musical notes. It’s really a very nice discovery. thanks a lot – ALl the best for you twice !

  5. I knew I liked this dress. I knowed it. By the way, George seems to play by feel…meaning he looks like he’s performing, following the story with his movements, which dictates exactly when he presses the keys. I don’t think I noticed it before. I guess you both have to see the same story…you interpret it through singing…and he through the piano. You probably have to see the same scene in the story at the same time to keep the tempo of the song moving fluidly. I suppose…and don’t lose that dress. Beautiful!

  6. A beautiful performance Charlotte, and I agree with Eric, you both perform throughout the song adding to the whole experience and bringing the song to life. Looking forward to seeing you at Christmas xxx

  7. It is interesting how at a certain level we can sense even the smallest nuances that the lay people never understand. After ending a ride, I have people tell me how great I did and although I say a big thanks; in my mind I am thinking that I should opened up my shoulders more and I started my end turn to late… There is always something new to learn!

    Have a great week!

  8. I posted your picture and video (to your blog) on my author blog. I hope I did that right. Maybe I should have re-blogged it. Not sure. Great video. I’m enjoying your posts. Keep up the good work. Maybe we’ll get to hear you sing a Christmas song!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, I did post a Christmas song last year on my You Tube channel ‘The First Mercy’ it’s one of my favourites but not very well known.

      Best wishes

  9. There is always a depth to Grieg which it takes familiarity to appreciate fully. I love this rendition.
    Interesting, your comment about vibrato. My feeling is that many singers tend to overdo it, and use it where a crystal-clear purity would be more effective.

  10. It’s always good to keep honing your craft, but you have wonderful presence while singing in the video. I love that you are not only singing it in Norwegian but also keeping spring alive with that gown. Wow, singing Grieg in his house, what sorts of emotions did that have for you?

    1. Thank you 😊. Such a treat, like a dream situation. I could see all the pictures around the walls and it was marvellous to be surrounded by all those memories.
      Best wishes

  11. So beautiful, you and your voice…. 🙂

    Loved your whole look – from that floral dress to the heels !!

    Keep giving us peeks of your performances !

    Much <3

  12. Such a beautiful piece. I love your focus to constantly better yourself, it’s one thing to have talent, another to put hard work to it. You really are an inspiration to those of us in the arts.

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