La Quintrala

chamber opera for 5 singers and interactive computer
composed 2003/04; duration 120 minutes
libretto by Greta Sundberg
commissioned by Den Anden Opera, Oper and der Leine, and Norrbottens Opera
world premiere Den Anden Opera – Copenhagen (Denmark) september 2 2004

“This is a modern legend, placed in present-day European society. Light and love are fighting for survival in a world where the powers of darkness are enormous and where history repeats itself again and again.

La Quintrala from Lars Graugaard on Vimeo.

Catalina is La Quintrala, a wealthy businesswoman and successful politician – and a cruel serial killer. Without ever being held responsible she has killed several people, some because they are standing in her way to power, some because of their dependence on her, and others just for the sheer thrill of it.

But there is especially one person she wants to get rid of, and that is her stepdaughter Bianca, a young, beautiful and talented singer. Catalina hates the pure and lovely girl more than anything, and for Bianca a nightmare begins where everything she holds dear little by little is taken away from her. In the beginning of the opera her cousin gets murdered, then her beloved father, and in the end Bianca meets her own painful death…

”La Quintrala” is a story of horror, violence and crime, but also of innocence, loss and love. It is the story of how we ordinary people are prepared to carry out unbelievable and cruel acts when alluringly exposed to an abyss of temptation and rewards that promise to elevate our all too ordinary lives. In the process we are seduced and turned into will-less victims.”

Greta Sundberg, librettist


Catalina – 30-35, attractive businesswoman, owner of a television company, leader of a political party – and a serial killer and a vampire with a certain sophisticated weakness for members of mankind, both men and women. She is not killing people because of any “higher reason”, just for the joy and thrill of it, and because it is her nature. When people get in her way she destroys them, but often she kills just for the pleasure of it. Like most vampires she is afraid of the light, but she is not afraid of mirrors – on the contrary.

Henrik – 45, Catalina’s husband, father to Bianca. A politician and one of the co-owners of the television company. One of Catalina’s victims. He is murdered by Florian.

Bianca – 18, Henrik’s daughter from a previous marriage and the hated stepdaughter of Catalina. A beautiful, blond young woman and a brilliant singer at the start of her career. She is broken down, tortured and eventually murdered by Catalina.

Florian – 25. Catalina’s chauffeur and secretary, and later her lover and willing instrument. Is persuaded by Catalina to murder Henrik. Is taken to the jail by the police and goes crazy as he is haunted by feelings of guilt and visions of Henrik’s ghost. Kills himself.

Johanne – 30. Journalist at Catalina’s television company. A woman looking for the thruth, but in the end succumbs to Catalina’s invincible charm and powers of persuasion.

Chorus of Hades – the captured souls in Catalina’s cellar.


Act One

The action takes place in a private, luxurious residence, an office, a TV-studio, a jail and by the banks of a river. It is autumn, somewhere in Europe. Present time.

Prologue. Chorus.

Scene 1: A young man, Florian, arrives at Catalina’s residence to sign a contract to work as chauffeur and secretary. She convinces him to stay the night over, and she kisses him and sings a beatifull yet ominous lullaby.

Scenes 2-4: Bianca, the young daughter of Henrik, awakens everybody telling Catalina and Henrik that her little cousin has been murdered, down by the river. She is very upset and seeks consolation from her father. Catalina is jealous. Henrik and Bianca are begging Catalina to make a public address, to try to stop the murderer. She finally agrees. A journalist at Catalina’s TV-station, Johanne, is speaking live in the TV-studio about the serial killings which have been taking place in the city for several months.

Scene 5: Catalina is visited at her office by a female lover. They are playing a sado-masochistic game, and Catalina forces the mistress to spank her.

Scene 6: Catalina is speaking in public on her TV-channel. She appeals to the killer to stop.

Scene 7: Catalina manipulates Florian that he must kill Henrik. She tells Florian that Henrik is beating her, and shows him her bruises. Florian finally agrees.

Scene 8: Catalina has arranged a party at her residence. While Bianca sings one of her famous songs, Catalina takes Henrik to her bedroom.

Scene 9: Florian kills Henrik with a knife. Catalina makes love to Florian as Henrik slowly dies, then cuts his head of and tastes his blood. She hides, and Bianca discovers her dead father. Catalina, Bianca, Johanne and Florian gather around the corpse in horror.

Act Two

Scene 1: Henriks´ funeral, in off.

Scene 2: Bianca wakes up, as from a nightmare. Catalina is talking gently to her and tells her about her own father. Bianca wants Catalina to sing a lullaby for her, and Catalina does so (the same song as in scene 1, act 1).

Scene 3: Catalina persuades Florian to kill Bianca and cut off her head. He reluctantly but finally agrees, telling Catalina that he wants to marry her in return.

Scene 4: By the river. Florian is preparing to kill Bianca, but when she sings to her father and about life’s loss of meaning, he just cannot. When Bianca understands that Florian has killed her father she jumps into the river, but Florian saves her and tells her that Catalina wants to kill her. He tells her not to go back to Catalina, but Bianca runs away.

Scene 5: Bianca is looking for Catalina, to tell her she knows who murdered her father. But Catalina is not there. Instead, Bianca hears crying from downstairs, and goes down into the cellar.

Scene 6: In the cellar Bianca is lost in a dark maze, but finally finds a door. Behind the door she finds human heads, put on poles. She tries to run away, but is suddenly met by Catalina. Catalina locks her up in a box. She tells Bianca she is going to kill her over and over again.

Scene 7: Catalina is making love in her office to an unknown, beautiful stranger. Florian knocks on the door, but Catalina will not let him in. Finally she opens the door. Florian tells her that the police wants to see him and that he is scared. Catalina promises to talk to the police, but rejects his pleedings to have sexual relations with him.

Scene 8: Johanne, the journalist, is talking to Florian in the jail. He is confused and not really sure if he is a killer or not. Johanne starts to suspect Catalina and decides to visit  her. Florian finally breakes down as he has an eerie dialogue with Henrik’s ghost.

Scene 9: Johanne arrives at Catalina’s residence. Catalina seduces her and sings the same, fatal lullaby she sang to Florian and Bianca. Meanwhile, Florian dies by his own hands in jail, and Bianca dies in the cellar by loss of blood.


List of Works


Sound art
Chamber music
Stage music
Chamber orchestra