Benny and Björn in court over Kristina

Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, the two Bs of ABBA, were in court on Monday in the latest act of the long running saga, "Who Wrote Kristina From Duvemåla?".

The musical itself, Kristina From Duvemåla, has been a massive success in Sweden since its premiere in October 1995. Since then, over a million people have seen the show, about a young girl who emigrated from Sweden to America in the mid-nineteenth century.

But Benny and Björn were unable to come to an agreement with the dramatist Carl-Johan Seth when they met in a preliminary hearing at Stockholm district court on Monday morning.

The row over the script of the musical has been ongoing for more than ten years. Carl-Johan Seth was brought into the project by the pair early on, and he considers that it was his work which the productions in Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm were based on.

Not true, say Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. They claim that nothing remains of his work which, they say, was unusable. Instead, the director and then head of the Malmö Musikteater, Lars Rudolfsson, together with the dramatist Jan Mark, wrote a completely new script six months before the premiere in Malmö in 1995.

The argument between Andersson and Ulvaeus on the one side and Seth on the other began years before the premiere but was still in evidence when they met in the living room-sized courtroom.

“We worked for two or three years without moving one metre forward with your script. When Rudolfsson came in everything went smoothly,” said Björn Ulvaeus, breaking in when the lawyers took a moment’s pause for breath.

Seth’s lawyer pointed out that the row could not have been as significant as Andersson and Ulvaeus claim, since as late as a month before the premiere they signed an agreement which confirmed that Seth was the scriptwriter. He also revealed that Seth had so far received five million kronor in payment for the performances.

But according to the other side, the agreement was meaningless since it referred to a script which was never used, and the money was paid out to create a good working atmosphere.

The quarrel will now go forward to a main hearing, which is not expected until late next year. It will be up to the court to compare the two manuscripts.

Despite the bad feeling surrounding the origins of the musical, preparations are underway for a run on Broadway.

In response to a question from reporters about whether the case would affect the timescale for a New York production, Benny Andersson was tersely frank.

“Dunno,” he said.

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The Local/TT


ABBA’s first album in 40 years shoots to the top of the UK charts

ABBA's first studio album in nearly 40 years has made it to the top of the UK charts, becoming the fastest seller of the year so far, the Official Charts Company said on Friday.

ABBA's first album in 40 years shoots to the top of the UK charts
ABBA's new album, 'Voyage' for sale in Stockholm at the start of this month. Photo: Jonatan Nackstrand/AFP

“Voyage” by the Swedish quartet of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid racked up 204,000 chart sales in the seven days since it was launched last Friday.

Sales gave the supergroup the biggest opening week on the UK album chart in four years since Ed Sheeran’s “Divide”, and fastest-selling album by a group in eight years.

The last fastest-seller was One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” in November 2013.

READ ALSO: Abba’s new album has arrived – tell us, what do you think?

ABBA, propelled to global fame by their 1974 Eurovision Song Contest win with “Waterloo”, split in 1982, a year after their last album, “The Visitors”.

“Voyage” is their 10th number one album in the UK: only seven other acts — The Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie — have had more.

The group said in a statement: “We are so happy that our fans seem to have enjoyed our new album as much as we enjoyed making it.

“We are absolutely over the moon to have an album at the top of the charts again.”

The 204,000 sales comprise 90 percent physical copies, including 29,900 on vinyl, making it the fastest-selling vinyl release of the 21st century.

The previous record holder was the Arctic Monkeys’ “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”, which sold 24,500 vinyl copies in 2018.