“The immediate merits of Tokfursten include the fact that it is entertaining without renouncing the serious aspects.
“Originally a singer, Carl Unander-Scharin created for the Vadstena Academy in the summer of 1996 this operatic adaptation of Elgard Jonsson’s autobiography about his emergence from schizophrenia. The debut was Unander-Scharin’s first full-format opera and was sensational in all respects.
“This is a work of musical drama at once dark and colourful. It takes place in a clinic: nothing other than a nightmare world for those who are there and for those who are watching the drama unfold.
“This is not an opera that one is enjoying; rather, it is a work of musical drama which impacts on anyone who has ever become involved in helping fellow human beings in psychological need. [...] Tokfursten is an important contribution to the debate about the care of the mentally ill.
“To this story Carl Unander-Scharin has written remarkably luminous music which lies close to the words, voices, and spoken dialogue and which simultaneously succeeds in conveying something of the isolation and denial of life which are part of the existence of the young psychotic patient.
“The opera is undoubtedly a masterpiece and leaves no one unmoved. The music and action enrich the forms of expression and I have seldom listened to new music which so perfectly masters sudden shifts and does not let the musical lines be dissolved. The large melodic intervals in the vocal parts are mastered to perfection by the singers.
“Nine characters in the form of natural phenomena, people, spirits of the air, etc. make their presence felt vocally to the instrumental accompaniment of piano and synthesiser. The list of characters consists of nine singers and reciters ranging from M.A. Numminen to Karl-Magnus Fredriksson.
“From out of an electronically staged sound landscape the picture’s distinctive figures are set free in a series of songs – all characterised by a use of melody which is as inventive as it is strongly theatrical.
“‘The music of Figurer i ett landskap [Figures in a Landscape] is half electronic, and with the aid of a kind of digital technology of metamorphosis the music builds acoustic bridges between the singers and the instruments, the choir and the soloists, the stage space and the listeners’ space.