Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Bravo, 1984: ABBA musical, Björn and Benny's wonderful chess move

Venue: Merano. The chess world championship between the American and the Russian. The American is accompanied by Florence Vassy, an exile from Hungary and the Russian is accompanied by the KGB delegate Molokov.
Florence and the Russian fall in love with each other during the match, that is eventually won by the Russian. With the world champion title in his pocket he doesn't return to Moskow but he asks for a political asylum in the West...
Second act: chess world championship in Bangkok. The 'traitor' the Russian has to defend his title against the new Russian champion Vilgand.
The American - present at the venue as a TV commentator - tries to win Florence back. Because her love for the Russian is put to the test when he finds out that his wife Svetlana is detained in the Soviet Union.
The end: Vilgand wins the world championship. The Russian and Florence make up their private balance...
That's the plot of the musical Chess that the two ABBA-boys Björn and Benny have written together with the Englishman Tim Rice (Jesus Christ Superstar).
The live world premiere of Chess has already taken place at the end of October - albeit in the shape of a concert performance. In the autumn of 1985 - that's what Björn and Benny are hoping - the chess drama should be staged as a musical in London.
The song 'One Night In Bangkok' from the second act of Chess has already made it onto the charts.
It's being sung by Murray Head. The 39-year-old Englishman is known as a multi-talent. He's a singer, a movie star (Sunday, Bloody Sunday), a composer (among others for Cliff Richard, The Hollies and Roger Daltrey) and a musical star (Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar). The eighteen month long work on Chess has left ABBA as a group more or less checkmate. While the boys realised their dream of writing their own musical, the girls spent time with their families and preparing their own solo projects.
Anni-Frid - she only calls herself Frida nowadays and she lives in Paris - has already released her second solo album 'Shine'.
Agnetha is still working on her new album in Stockholm, that should be released in the spring. Nonetheless, Björn and Benny don't rule out the possibility that there will be a new album with all four ABBA members at some point in the future. But this won't be in the near future. At least that's what Björn said in our Bravo interview.
Björn: "The whole year 1985 Benny and I will be busy staging Chess. We are hoping the same people as on the record will participate: Murray Head as the American, Tommy Körberg as the Russian, Elaine Paige as Florence, Barbara Dickson as Svetlana and Dennis Quilley as Molokov."
Bravo: What gave you the idea for Chess?
Björn: "We met Tim Rice for the first time at the end of 1981. One year later, it was clear that we were going to write a musical together. We already decided on Tim's concept when we started writing in 1983. From October '83 until September '84 we worked on the recordings in the ABBA studio."
Bravo: Do you actually know how to play chess?
Björn: "I don't, but Benny does."
Bravo: Will there be a German version of Chess?
Björn: "If there is going to be a translation at all, I believe the German version will be the first one."
Bravo: Could you imagine playing a part in the musical on stage?
Björn: "No, for God's sake. The only thing I can imagine is being in the audience and watch the show."
Bravo: Actually we could have conducted this interview in German.
Björn: "Yes, when you speak slowly, I can understand you in German as well."


Monica said...

Thank you for the translation.

Stefan1969 said...

It was Published in Bravo 3 / 1985

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