Russell Watson talks Kristina: “I collapsed emotionally on stage”

Russell Watson talks about his career, his battle with illness and his recollections of performing in Kristina in concert with the Daily Telegraph ahead of the release of his new album The Platinum Collection featuring Here I Am Again from Kristina at Carnegie Hall.

Russell Watson
Russell Watson

Excerpt referring to Russell playing Karl Oskar: On albums and in concerts since his illness, Watson has stuck with less demanding pop repertoire (“I’ve got to earn a living, and I can sing Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles all day without stretching”), but he has been eager to return to the classical arena. A half-way step came with his role in the English-language premiere of Kristina, a critically acclaimed musical composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA.

Watson gave three performances at Carnegie Hall in New York (in September 2009) and the Albert Hall (in April this year). “At the end, there’s a section where I’ve got hold of Kristina, and she’s dying. It’s a show, but it felt real, and I just gushed; I collapsed emotionally on stage. There were tears rolling down my face. Coming off, people were saying that was some of the best acting they’d ever seen, but it wasn’t acting at all. It got me right there.

Telegraph interviews Russell Watson


  • Me too! Quite the most emotional I’ve ever felt at a performance. In the front row at The Albert Hall Russell’s tears were plain to see, his face was wet with them. It was an incredible evening.

  • I’ve never seen Kristina live and I’m not sure I’d want to. I don’t know that I could live through it. At the very least I’d have dissolved into tears by the end. I’ve only listened to "I gott bevar" a handful of times. It’s masterful, of course, but it sure takes an emotional toll. Several of the other pieces do almost the same.

  • I wish you could see Kristina as a whole musical someday. The original Swedish version is a masterpiece much better than the english concert version but the music is of course brilliant!
    Bye from Stockholm

  • Being at the first concert in New York and sitting in one of the first rows I remember seeing Russel getting more and more emotional … and yes it felt real ! The whole concert was one of the highlights in my life !

  • I would love to hear from Louise Pitre about her role in Kristina. At the Royal Albert Hall she was literally sobbing after Helen’s performance of You Have to Be There and was completely taken aback by the reception.

    Leamington Spa, UK

  • I saw this at Carnegie Hall too. He was totally "devasted" by that final scene. It was very moving.

    It’s fairly obvious that he was drawing from his own experiences, but one can’t help thinking that the strength of the work he was performing (music, lyric and book) would have got to him anyway.

    Not to be moved by the final scenes of Kristina, in any language, you’d have to be lobotomised!

  • I saw kristina when it came to Stockholm and loved it even though I don´t usually like musicals. Peter Jöback,Helen Sjöholm and Anders Ekborg were amazing in their roles and B and B´s music touched nearly every emotion. Months earlier I had queued for nearly 2 hours in the snow and ice to buy tickets and i´d do it again to see Kristina again with the same cast.

  • I performed in Kristina in Minneapolis and I was emotional in each performance and sometimes in rehearsals. I prefer the Swedish version to the English one. I was at the Carnegie Hall performance and wasn’t moved by it as much as by the Swedish version.

  • I have just received the “Kristina” CD yesterday, from somebody coming from the U.K. I am a big fan of Mr.Watson, and has been looking forward to the recordings ever since I read about the percormance 2 years ago. The waiting has been worth it. I just listened to the music, and even I was reduced to tears. I can’t imagine what it would be like to attend the live performance.

  • My wife and I are so looking forward to seeing ‘Kristina’ in Helsinki in a few weeks time. Luckily we know the English score by heart thanks to the Carnegie Hall CD, it will be interesting to hear it all in Swedish!

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