Jussi of the Month – May 1943
Three Swedish concerts of different character
Studio photo Florence 1943
Two days later, he sang in Sweden again, but this time so to say in secret. The Stockholm Concert Hall was subscribed for a joint concert with Jussi Björling and Hjördis Schymberg, and only members of the Swedish Association of Staff Managers (Personalchefsföreningen) were admitted.
The program had one rather unusual number, the love duet from Madama Butterfly. Jussi’s normal partner as Pinkerton had not been Schymberg but Helga Görlin. He did not sing the role on stage after 1939, but would twenty years later study it in Italian for a gramophone recording.
On 13 May, the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation (Radiotjänst) arranged a festival soiree for the benefit of the children of Europe at the Royal Opera House.
Jussi together with Radiotjänst manager Yngve Hugo and his wife
Naturally, the program was dominated by opera and operetta excerpts: from Così fan tutte and Roméo et Juliette, and from the popular Swedish composer Jules Sylvain’s Zorina. The famous actor Anders de Wahl read from a book by Bertil Malmberg, as the picture shows.
Jussi and Anders de Wahl
”Farbror Sven”, the immensely popular broadcaster Sven Jerring, presented young artists assisted by 5-year-old Viola and Björn, who ”almost stole the evening”, and 200 children from Stockholm’s elementary schools sang.
Jussi sang, again together with Hjördis Schymberg, Act II of Roméo et Juliette, which finished the program. A reviewer thought his voice had ”a brilliance, a top, a volume as never before”. Fortunately, we are able to listen to this in a recording which was issued on Bluebell ABCD 103 a few years ago.
Jussi Björling had an interest in sports and several times his singing added lustre to various sports events. One of these was the ”City Run” arranged by the newspaper Dagens Nyheter in Stockholm on 23 May 1943. The run was combined with a soccer match between two local teams. Jussi gave a concert before the start of the run and the kick-off of the match. The runners finished in the half-time intermission and Jussi returned with Land, du välsignade after the match but before the prizes were distributed.
The weather was thought to be ”too perfect”, and only 3,000 paying spectators came to Stadion, but ”there was a tremendous atmosphere and that was not the least thanks to Jussi”. He ”was thrilled by the run and sang as seldom before”!
By Harald Henrysson