Abba’s members have reunited for the opening of a new business venture in the capital Stockholm.
The dining-entertainment venue, based on the Greek taverna featured in the Abba-themed film Mamma Mia!, is the idea of Abba star Bjorn Ulvaeus.
Bjorn Ulvaeus was joined for the opening night by Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and Agnetha Faltskog.
They were last seen in public together in 2008, news website thelocal.se said.
Fans and guests paid 1,340 kronor ($157) for a ticket to the opening night of Mamma Mia! The Party at the Tyrol restaurant in Grona Lund, Stockholm, on January 20, it added.
The venue’s website says punters will enjoy a Mediterranean-style buffet while the show takes place.
“Everything happens on a magical evening in several acts filled with singing and dancing, daredevil stunts, Greek Gods, flirty waiters, and perhaps a zorba and an ouzo or two,” it says.
“No evening is like any other and no-one knows how it ends. It all depends on where Abba’s songs take us.”
The four Abba stars were last seen in public together for the movie premieres of Mamma Mia! in London and Stockholm in 2008, thelocal.se said.
Abba The Museum, the first permanent exhibition to celebrate Sweden’s most successful band, will open to the public in May.
The museum site is located 25 miles from Arlanda airport on the island of Djurgarden in eastern Stockholm.
Each fan will be able to view Abba performance online and upload it to social networking sites to share with friends and family.
They will also have the chance to virtually try on Abba’s trademark sparkly dresses and flared trousers with the help of green screen technology.
Abba The Museum, the first permanent exhibition to celebrate Sweden’s most successful band, will open to the public in May
Abba has sold almost 400 million albums around the world and a film featuring their hits, Mamma Mia!, is the most successful musical movie of all time.
Almost 50 million people have seen the stage version of the production.
Stockholm has long considered building a museum to celebrate Abba, its most popular music export, but the band was initially hesitant about the idea, with Bjorn Ulvaeus saying he did not want to become “a museum artefact before I’m dead”.
Previous plans for a permanent exhibition in a disused customs warehouse in Stockholm harbor collapsed in 2008.
The new museum has Abba’s full support, with Bjorn Ulvaeus offering daily direction to some of the 50 staff involved with the final preparations. He is busy promoting the project in Germany, where Abba has a loyal fan base.
The museum’s curator, Ingmarie Halling, is the band’s former stylist and says her work remains an emotional experience.
“It is a scary feeling because it feels like I am doing a giant loop. In the 80s and 90s I had my children and worked in the film industry. So it is a bit strange to be back working with Abba, but at the same it is really fun to do this job and tell this story.”
Ingmarie Halling says she did not just want to “put labels on glass cabinets” and instead has combined her favorite Abba memorabilia to create sets where visitors can follow in the band’s footsteps.
These include Abba’s song-writing cottage on the island of Viggso, where the group were inspired to write many of their hits, surrounded by seagulls and boats.
“Bjorn told me that when he heard Benny playing the piano in the morning, he knew that they would be composing that day!” Ingmarie Halling said.
The hut is her favourite section of the museum, both because she has fond memories of midsummer parties with the band there and as a lifelong fan of Sweden’s archipelagos.
Her other sets include the legendary Polar Music Studio, where Abba recorded some of their biggest hits, and Edmonton Ice Hockey Arena, where they performed in 1979 as part of their final world tour.
“Visitors will come into the dressing room there and Abba have just left, so there are empty champagne glasses and you can hear that they are on stage,” Ingmarie Halling explained.
Some of the exhibits were included in the Abbaworld show that toured Australia and parts of Europe between 2009 and 2011.
The band members have also donated clothes and memorabilia from their private collections.
Ring Ring, the group’s first major hit in 1973, will be celebrated with the red telephone Agnetha Faltskog posed with in publicity shots. It has been connected to an outside line and only four people in the entire world know the phone number.
A sister exhibition, The Swedish Music Hall of Fame, is also being built on the same site.
There, visitors will be able to learn about the country’s more recent global success stories including Roxette, Europe and Swedish House Mafia.
Abba museum is hoping to attract several hundred-thousand visitors in its first year, half of them foreigners.
Eva Camel from Visit Stockholm, the city’s tourist board, believes the museum will become its most popular tourist destination.
By 2020 she hopes there will be 15 million commercial overnight stays a year in Stockholm – compared with around 11 million in 2012 – with the Abba museum “a very important piece in the plan to help reach that goal”.
The Polar Music Studio was turned into a gym in 2006.
The Hotel Rival, which is owned by Benny Andersson from Abba, is said to attract some so-called “Abba tourists”, although on our visit its red-cushioned chairs appear to be full of Swedes holding business meetings.
Abba have not performed together in public since 1986, and last appeared as a group in 2008 to attend the Swedish premiere of the Mamma Mia! film.
Organizers say they are unsure whether the band will reunite again to attend the museum’s official opening in May.
Agnetha Faltskog is busy promoting her first album in nine years around Europe, and Frida Lyngstad now lives in Mallorca.
- Formed in 1972 and broke up in 1982
- Won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton in 1974 with Waterloo
- 378 million global album sales
- Gold: Greatest Hits is the third biggest selling album of all time in the UK
- Almost 50 million people have seen the stage version of Mamma Mia!
- The movie, Mamma Mia!, is the highest grossing musical film worldwide