Kjetil-Vidar “Frost” Haraldstad on Satyricon’s Night at the Opera

Back on September 8, 2013 Satyricon staged a special show at the Oslo Opera House in Oslo, Norway, in which the black metal veterans performed alongside the Norwegian National Opera Chorus. The end result was exactly what anyone would expect, the band’s distinct music given more drama and gravitas thanks to the haunting vocals by the 60-member choir. The concert was filmed and recorded, and on May 1 Napalm Records will be releasing Live at the Opera as a special DVD/CD package. It’s a spellbinding performance – check out the performance of “Die By My Hand” below – and we recently caught up with drummer Frost to talk about this release, and what’s next for Satyricon.

How did the idea to stage this collaboration between Satyricon and the Norwegian Opera Chorus happen? 

Frost: We got to perform the song “To the Mountains” with the Opera Chorus at a closed special event three years ago, and were so excited by the experience that we decided to try arrange a full show with the choir. The choir was also very up for that idea, hence it was turned into a proper plan and eventually became a reality.

How much preparation did this performance require beforehand? Who wrote the choral arrangements?

Frost: I guess it goes without saying that such a project requires a significant effort. But we were extremely determined to pull it off, and the will of the band and the choir leader was probably what made it possible. The choral arrangements were written by Kjetil Bjerkestrand, who did a fantastic job and understood perfectly how choir arrangements could be written to emphasize and amplify atmospheres and energies in Satyricon’s music. There was an ongoing dialogue between Bjerkestrand and Satyr securing that we ended up with the right solutions, and finally a round of rehearsals before the show. What is important is the result, anyway, which was absolutely magical.

How did the choir react to being onstage with a big, loud heavy metal band?

Frost: They seemed to love it; some of the singers in the choir actually came to us and said that this was the best experience they’ve ever had on stage. It’s certainly great to take part in something that different, challenging and powerful.

It’s always interesting in these situations to see how the band and the choir (or orchestra) work together. As the principal timekeeper of this whole thing, how closely did you have to work with the choirmaster during the performance? How did you both keep everything in sync?

Frost: My task was to perform with the band as I always do and give everything, and not try to do anything different. The choirmaster then saw to it that the choir was unison with the band, and he skillfully and safely did so.

This entire live album works extraordinarily well, but in your own opinion, which song do you think worked the best with the choir?

Frost: I honestly find every arrangement to work really well; perhaps did “Den Siste” become particularly potent and expressful. But I could easily mention many themes that simply sound mindblowing. 

What does the rest of 2015 have in store for you? Is it going to be mostly 1349, or will Satyricon start working on a new album soon?

Frost: Satyricon is already working on a new album and have quite a lot of material written at this point. In parallel we’re working on a cover album…and a tour is also coming up in a few weeks. We’re busier than ever! 1349 is also active, so I don’t have much spare time these days.