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A musical fairy tale

We are back to 2006. Marius sits on the second floor of a bus in Copenhagen that runs along the canal at the Islands brygge on the way to a seminar on “Complete Vocal Institute”, while listening to the legendary album with Freddie Mercury and Monzerat Caballliese on the Ipod. Fascinated and inspired by the power of this music, how the bridge between Rock and opera whispers into an expressive fireworks of all colors in which Freddie Mercury’s voice is “all over the place”. Singing this music must be the ultimate challenge for a male singer.

One dream is sparked

Day before that he talked with the Dutch soprano Karin Ten Cate, who has done that project on big and small TV shows in the Netherlands.

– Karin was looking for a new man voice for Barcelona project, which was project based on all 8 songs on Freddie Mercury’s last album – explains Marius. – I knew deep in myself that I had to be the perfect candidate to sing that music and I became desperate when she did not even think of me as a worthy candidate – says Marius Holth.

Marius went home to Norway without any offer to sing in Barcelona, but the meeting with Karin Ten Cate and with this music had sparked a dream.

– I was unable to put away the dream of singing Barcelona – says Marius.

Standing in front of thousands of Queen fans from all over Europe was one of the biggest experiences I've experienced as a singer.

”I had this perfect dream”

– The Barcelona album of Freddie Mercury was written as a tribute to the Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballé whom he believed had the world’s most beautiful voice. The two met on a TV show and agreed to sing together. Then they met in the villa of the Spanish soprano and worked out in the small hours. This was the beginning of the Barcelona album which became a fierce crossover between Queens dramatic rock and classical song, released in 1987. This was at the end of Freddie Mercury’s life where he had AIDS and knew that he had a short time to live. They were supposed to perform the song “Barcelona” during the opening of the Olympics in 1992, but Mercury did not live long enough to stand on that stage.

Galla on Egertorget

It would take over a year before the opportunity arose. Marius tells about Barcelona to the Oslo Opera Festival and they think the project is exciting. They agree to set up Barcelona on Egertorget during the opening of the festival. Marius invites the ladies choir “Aquarius” from Askim that he has worked with, and a Norwegian soprano associated with festival. An intensive practice period begins to get the material in place.

– It was interesting to work with choir – says Marius who has also been bandmaster for choir during the study period. – We had to work with the ladies to make them sound rock out and it meant a completely different voice usage than they were used to. It was about engaging the entire body and singing out, while being precise.

Marius went constantly to Askim and worked intensively with the ladies in the choir. And he got with them a band with musicians who play string instruments, who could give the music a worthwhile wrapping.

– Three days before the premiere canceled the Norwegian soprano – says Marius. – We were heartbroken. And we thought all this job was for nothing.

As a last desperate attempt to get performed Barcelona, Marius calls Karen Ten Cate. She sat on the plane and came up with two gala dresses in the luggage.

– We just had time for an exercise – says Marius, but that didn’t matter, because Karin had that music under the skin.

The opening at Oslo Opera Festival was a big success. More than 700 people gathered at Egertorget to hear “Barcelona” and “The golden boy” and Marius and Karin stood on stage for the first time.

After that, we only wanted to do more, says Marius.

Tour in Europe

The ladies choir Aquarius was involved in this project and in 2008 they were invited to a full New Year’s Concert with the songs from the Barcelona album and selected queen hits. On the stage, Marius Holth and Karin Ten Cate were together with a lady choir from inner Østfold who had received great self-confidence and great voices after working regularly with Marius.

– For me, that was a dream come true – says Marius. – Finally, I was standing on a big stage and singing this amazing music together with Karin, as I had dreamed about.

The show received a wonderful reception and was invited to Rotterdam for the “Queen-day” an annual event for queen fans from all over Europe. The show was also set up in Askim for two full houses in Askim Culture House. There were two scouts from Switzerland and in 2010, Marius, Karin and the show choir “Killer Queens” were invited to perform the entire show on the “Freddie Mercury memorial day” which is a Queen festival that takes place in Switzerland each year.

– It was a wonderful prestigious invitation – says Marius. – Man doesn’t get every day a chance to sing Freddie Mercury’s music in his own hometown, in front of thousands of Queen fans from across Europe.

But it’s not just about moving a show with more than 30 people on stage from Norway to Switzerland. Equipment had to be driven all over Europe, a whole choir should be unloaded, musicians had to be moved and taken care of.

– The logistics around that project was really challenging – says Marius. – We were about to give up, but we made it.

With the help of the Norwegian Embassy they came down and the fairy tale was a fact. They had with them the producer Peter Anthon Ness, who had been the producer of Jan Werner and Sissel Endresen. And after an acoustic Barcelona concert for the Norwegian environment in Switzerland, the journey went to Montreux.

– Standing in front of thousands of Queen fans from all over Europe was one of the biggest experiences I’ve experienced as a singer – says Marius. – It was a magical experience and I felt I could only sing and sing forever. The audience could sing out all the songs and they sang with us. Afterwards, we wrote autographs and got rock star status.

Singing Barcelona was a dream come true. But the dream still lives.

– I could imagine to sing that show again – says Marius. – It is very suitable for solemn occasions – Give me a choir and a scene, and I’ll come as soon as I can.