Music /  Opera /  Education 


FIGURA Ensemble are extremely proud and honoured to be among the nominees vying for the Nordic Council Music Prize 2017. To be nominated in such illustrious artistic company by the national members of the Adjudication Committee is a high distinction indeed and a hugely gratifying mark of recognition.
Heartfelt congratulations to FIGURA’s Ursula Andkjær Olsen on receiving the Danish Arts Foundation’s highly prestigious Award of Distinction.
DOWNFALL 26-30 September 2017


The Motion Demon

A romantic horror opera about power, envy, lust and love in a miniature world.

The opera is inspired by the world around Stefan Grabinski's locomotive mania, as it manifests itself in the short story collection "The Motion Demon" from 1919.

The Motion Demon is our new opera with composer Steingrimur Rohloff's amazing universe of sound wich hits and captures the audience from the first note. The story provides an intense and horrifying experience which will give you a feeling of being drawn into an intriguing world. FIGURA will take audiences on a journey in to contemporary music where you have to remember to breathe.
Composer: Steingrimur Rohloff
Librettist:   Sjón
Cast:          Morten Staugaard, bass-baritone
Andreas Landin, baritone
Helene Gjerris, mezzo-soprano
Frans Hansen, Drums and saw
Anna Klett, Clarinets
Jesper Egelund, Bass
Director:    Rolf Heim
Scenography: Sisse Jørgensen
Sound design: Jonas Jensen
Production Manager: Jesper Sønderstrup
Age Group: Adolescents and adults 14 years +
The show plays in English
Duration: 60 min.
Played 19/3-6/4 2011 at the Copenhagen Music Theatre
contact us at info [@] or phone + 45 22429178

The Motion Demon is supported by:
The Sonning Foundation, The Wilhelm Hansen Foundation, Bikubenfonden,
Danish-Icelandic Fund, Copenhagen Performing Arts Committee

Photos: Ditte Valente

In the words of the author Sjón:

The story will open in our times with a scene where an old and terminally ill train model enthusiast advertises in a newspaper for someone to take over his creation, a vast network of model trains that has occupied him since childhood and now spreads all over the house where he lives.

A young person responds to the ad and visits him. Suspicious at first the model maker slowly starts confiding in the young visitor about his passion and the super human task it has become to maintain and run the miniature world. There the trains have to run on time and everything else has to be perfect in its stillness; the animals in the fields, the cars on roads in mountains and towns, the people in their gardens and on the sidewalks, at work and in their private lives. Now he needs someone he can trust to make sure that whenever a streetlamp falls over, or a station master is moved too close to the brink of a platform by the rustling of the passing train, it will be corrected. And this is no easy task as the old man has recently had some experiences that suggest to him that a sinister force has taken possession of his perfect creation; it seems to have added its own evil Phantom Train to the tracks that support the old man’s own fleet of “good” locomotives.

As he starts telling the young man the story about this wandering ghost train the scene moves down into the model world and they find themselves standing on the platform of the station where the rampant ghost machine is
expected to show up next.

From this point on the young visitor is stuck in the world of manic train conductors, motion freaks, cosmic theories and satanic conspiracies … and once he finds his way back to the house of the old model maker, back into “reality”, it is only to discover that he has been left alone there and now it is his task to attend the microcosmic world - because it really is “our world” and the Devil has to be kept at bay …

“Some type of gigantic, grey mass passes by—an ashen, misty mass with cut-out windows from end to end. One can feel the gust of a satanic draught from these open holes, hear the flapping, maddeningly blown-about shutters; one can almost see the spectral faces of the passengers ...
A wandering train that appears, seemingly at will; an engine driver who is inseparable from his machine; a passenger who waits for trains but never travels on them; obsession with speed and motion; a harbinger of disaster; a daring liaison: these are the themes of
The Motion Demon, Stefan Grabinski's collection of nine stories, first published in Poland in 1919.

Stefan Grabinski (1887–1936), often referred to as 'The Polish Poe', struggled during his lifetime to gain recognition in his native land. He was an idealistic loner who strove for an understanding of the hidden forces of both the world and the human mind; and he represented those forces in the most potent framework available to him—his stories of the supernatural.”


 The Motion Demon is supported by: Sonning Foundation, Wilhelm Hansen Foundation, Bikuben Foundation, Københavns Scenekunstudvalg (Copenhagen's performing arts committee)