The Mountain Bird

Premiére date18 Apr. 2009
Produced byThe Theatre of Cruelty
Based onThe Mountain Bird by Henrik Ibsen
ExpressionsMusical theatre, Physical theatre, Theatre, Opera, Metatheatre
Running period18 Apr. 2009  
WebsiteGrusomhetens Teater

About The Mountain Bird

The Theatre Of Cruelty's production The Mountain Bird (2009) was a world premiere of Henrik Ibsen's unfinished opera libretto from 1859.

In The Mountain Bird by The Theatre of Cruelty national romanticism is placed in the spotlight and parodied its image of naive, innocent Norwegian peasants.

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Press review

Elisabeth Rygg. (2009, 20.04). Aftenposten [Oslo, Norway]:

"What we get in the graffiti-tagged building of The Theatre of Cruelty in the street of is a special experience. But nevertheless:An original worldwide premiere of an unknown Ibsen text. That is not something you see every day."

Elin Høyland (2009, 30.04). Rare Ibsen-Bird. Morgenbladet [Oslo, Norway]:

"A mixture between expressive acting that involves song and movements, exceptional work put down in the making of the costumes, and the scenography’s powerful backdrop, matches the whole picture that rises like a breathing pattern. It rises out of an imaginary and just as much (or little) a Real Mountain as any of us can claim to know. Journeys to another world that make you wonder, rather than understand." 

Jens-Morten Hanssen, 20.04.2009, Festive World Premiere,, 15.08.2010,

"The Theatre of Cruelty in Oslo without shyness stepped up and out, and staged the play as a romantic opera, in thread with Ibsen’s genre. This they do with sensational results."

Inger Merete Hobbelstad (2009, 04.20). Air under the wings. Dagbladet [Oslo, Norway]:

"...Filip Sande's music suits the duplicity of the show: Based on folk music, containing beautiful vocal harmonies, but also wicked accords from our own time. Mountain Birds never-ending dialogue with the past creates duplicity. The result is an encouraging and interesting space on stage, mysterious yet easy to move around in."

Writer and date unknown, Adresseavisa [Trondheim, Norway]:

"In the ensemble, presented as a unity, it is a delight to study the actor instruction Øyno has provided. The design of the roles and the intensity of each and every staring glance show the focus and involvement of the actors."

More about The Mountain Bird

The Mountain Bird is based on the myth of the Jostedal Grouse, a young girl who wandered around the Norwegian mountain wilds during the Black Death. She lived at the farm of Birkehaug and was the only survivor in the valley of Jostedalen. She was not found until years later, when people from the neighbouring areas came along, and by then she had become "as shy and wild as a Bird". Later on she was called "The Jostedal Grouse".

The action takes place in a Norwegian valley some years after the pest. Supernatural creatures (called Haugfolket, or the People of the Pile, a Norwegian term for creatures living underground) and a bridal party of country folks are represented in the character gallery. The play describes Alfhild (The Mountain Bird) and her wish to return to the humans.

The performance was melodramatic, expressive and stylistic; the costumes often appeared to be taken right out of ‘Bridal Journey in Hardanger’ (19th century national romanticist painting by Adolph Tidemand and Hans Gude) and the music was inspired by folk music, as well as more contemporary genres.

The Mountain Bird was nominated for The Hedda Award 2009 in the category of theatre event of the year.

The Mountain Bird by The Theatre of Cruelty was supported by: Arts Council Norway, The Fund for Performing Artists, The Audio Visual Fund, the Municipality of Oslo and the Norwegian Ministry for Foreign Affairs/MFA (travel grant/performing arts).

The Theatre of Cruelty directs thanks to: Elisabeth Bring and Valdreslaget, Elisabeth Kværne, Arild Brenno, Stein Mehren, The Ibsen Museum represented by Erik Henning Edvardsen.


The Theatre of Cruelty,, 15.08.2010,