Elvis Costello is creating an opera based on Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen's impossible romance with a Swedish woman.

Elvis Costello is creating an opera based on Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen's impossible romance with a Swedish woman.

"The Secret Arias" is based on songs written by Andersen for Jenny Lind, a soprano dubbed the "Swedish Nightingale," whom the Dane pined for, despite her never returning his affections, according to Henrik Engelbrecht, head of dramaturgy at Copenhagen's Royal Theater.

It is believed that Andersen wrote his tale "The Nightingale" with Lind in mind. "Elvis immediately loved the idea and when we met him 18 months ago to discuss it, he had already a clear idea about the opera," Engelbrecht says.

The work will open in 2006 on the new opera house's small experimental stage, which can seat 200. After Copenhagen, "The Secret Arias" likely will go on an international tour, Engelbrecht said, and be released as a CD and DVD.

Costello has previously recorded with Swedish soprano Anne Sofie Von Otter and the Brodsky Quartet and last year released "Il Sogno," his first classical work. He will perform the songs of "The Secret Arias" in concert this fall at the new $441 million opera house, which opened Jan. 15.

This year, Danes mark the bicentennial of the birth of Andersen, renowned for his children's stories, including the classics "The Little Match Girl," "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Red Shoes." He died in 1875.


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