Kristian "Gaahl" Espedal (GORGOROTH, GOD SEED, TRELLDOM) has been cast in a musical based on the concept album "Svartediket", which was inspired by myths and legends of the lake Svartediket, located outside of Bergen, Norway. The "first-ever black metal musical" is scheduled to premiere on May 26 at Festspillene i Bergen (Bergen International Festival), an annual international music and cultural festival. The event will be held at Bergen's Den Nationale Scene (DNS) (English translation: The National Stage), one of Norway's oldest and most renowned theaters which was founded to develop Norwegian playwrights.
Gaahl's casting has caused controversy in Norway, particularly as both Festspillene and Den Nationale Scene are heavily funded by the Norwegian state. Halvor Nordhaug, the Lutheran bishop in the diocese of Bjørgvin, seated in Bergen and covering parts of Western Norway, is especially concerned about Gaahl's previously published statements to the media in which he appeared to condone and support church burnings.
When asked in the 2005 documentary "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" for his thoughts on the church burnings associated with the early Norwegian black metal scene, Gaahl replied, "Church burnings are, of course, a thing that I support one hundred percent. It should have been done much more, and will be done much more in the future. We have to remove every trace from what Christianity, and the semitic roots, have to offer this world."
After Gaahl's involvement with the "Svartediket" musical was made official this week, the former GORGOROTH frontman once again reiterated that he views church burning as OK.
"I have left my past behind, but I still have an anti-Christian attitude," Gaahl told the Bergens Tidende newspaper. "Christianity has no place in this country. As long as the church has the power it has and supports oppression, we shouldn't give the church any sympathy. Therefore I don't think it's wrong if it (church burning) happens again. The symbolic value of burning down churches is important."
Responding to Gaahl's remarks, Bishop Halvor Nordhaug told the Bergens Tidende newspaper, "Gaahl displays some scary attitudes by defending church burnings. He says nothing about the fact that human lives were lost during one of the church burnings in the 1990s. I think everybody, no matter what their religious beliefs are, agrees with me that his attitudes are scary, but it could still be possible that his role at Den Nationale Scene will provide him with some kind of legitimacy, which is unfortunate."
Norwegian media coverage of Gaahl-"Svartediket" casting:
Excerpt from Gaahl's interview in "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" (2005 documentary):
DNS TV Norwegian-language interview with Gaahl (January 2010):
(Thanks: Asbjørn Slettemark)