Esa-Pekka Salonen to conduct his first Ring cycle in Helsinki
The Ring cycle will be staged in a new production at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki between 2019 and 2021. The production will be conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.
The Finnish National Opera and Ballet season 2016–2017 presents a rich programme with music theatre by cutting-edge international directors and new works by some of the most acclaimed choreographers of our time. Spring 2017 will also feature a celebration of Finnish know-how in honour of the centenary of Finland’s independence. The Finnish National Ballet begins the year with a visit to Copenhagen.
The Ring cycle, Richard Wagner’s opera tetralogy, will be staged in a new production at the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki between 2019 and 2021. The production will be conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and directed by Kari Heiskanen. The cast will include Tommi Hakala as Wotan and Johanna Rusanen-Kartano as Brünnhilde. The rest of the production team and cast will be announced later.
The production will proceed with two operas per year. The first premiere will be Rheingold in autumn 2019, followed by Walküre in spring 2020, Siegfried in autumn 2020 and Götterdämmerung in spring 2021. The performances will be included in season tickets. The entire cycle will continue to be performed thereafter.
“The time is ripe for a completely Finnish production of the Ring,” says FNO Artistic Director Lilli Paasikivi. “The production team will be entirely Finnish. There is a wonderful generation of Wagner singers emerging in Finland, and our aim is to cast the production with Finnish singers as far as possible.”
“The Ring cycle is a tremendous effort for any opera house, both artistically and logistically. The FNO will put all of its expertise to work on this awe-inspiring story. I am particularly happy that Esa-Pekka Salonen will be conducting his first Ring cycle in Helsinki!”
The FNO staged its first complete Ring cycle in a four-year period beginning in 1996, and the production was revived in 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2011, with eight performances of the entire cycle in all. The production, directed by Götz Friedrich, was later exported to Tokyo, where it is currently in the repertoire of the New National Theatre.
Before the Ring cycle, Esa-Pekka Salonen will be visiting the FNOB to conduct Richard Strauss’s Elektra in autumn 2016.
Year of grand narratives at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet 2016–2017
Two art forms meet and merge as the Opera House in Helsinki is converted into a circus on 16 September, 2016. CircOpera is a completely new kind of production, combining circus acts with live opera music. Dancers of the FNB join acrobats and opera singers on stage for this extravaganza.
The autumn’s first new opera is Elektra by Richard Strauss, to be premiered on 2 September. This celebrated production directed by the late Patrice Chéreau was most recently staged at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The performances will be conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, and the cast includes stars such as Evelyn Herlitzius and Waltraud Meier, who were coached by Chéreau himself for the premiere of the production at the Aix-en-Provence festival in 2013. Two days after the premiere in Helsinki, the FNO will perform Elektra in concert at the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm. Nina Stemme replaces Herlitzius in the title role in this performance.
A new production of The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner to be premiered on 18 November sets the action in the international art trade. The production is directed by Kasper Holten, Director of the Royal Opera House in London, who previously directed the acclaimed production of Die tote Stadt at the FNO in 2010. The cast of Der fliegende Holländer will include guest soloists Camilla Nylund, Johan Reuter and Olafur Sigurdarson.
The first spring opera premiere, on 27 January, will be Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Dmitry Shostakovich. In the gripping production directed by Ole Anders Tandberg, the action is set in a remote fishing village. An elegant and wistful new production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin directed by Marco Arturo Marelli will be premiered on 17 March.
The FNOB’s celebration of the centenary of Finland’s independence in 2017 will include the Finnish premiere of the most recent operatic work of Kaija Saariaho, Only the Sound Remains, a pair of mini-operas based on austere Japanese Nō plays. The world premiere was given by the Dutch National Opera in mid-March this year. The production was directed by Saariaho’s trusted collaborator Peter Sellars, and the performances will be conducted by André de Ridder as in Amsterdam.
Focus on Finnish at the National Ballet
The FNB opens Finland’s centenary year 2017 with a visit to Copenhagen, giving four performances of the hugely successful ballet The Snow Queen at the Royal Danish Ballet on 27–29 January. The visit is of particular significance, since The Snow Queen is based on a story by the famous Danish storyteller H.C. Andersen and the choreographer, Kenneth Greve, Artistic Director of the FNB, is himself Danish and a former member of the Royal Danish Ballet.
The autumn season opens with the world premiere of Romeo and Juliet by Natália Horečná, a hot name in contemporary European dance theatre, on 26 August. She gives new form to the classic story made famous by Shakespeare, set to the familiar and lovely music from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev.
The world premiere of a new ballet work, Alice in Wonderland by Jorma Elo, will be given on 7 October. Resident choreographer in Boston Ballet, Finnish Jorma Elo is creating a remarkable international career; this is his first full-length choreography for the FNB. The story is based on the well-known books by Lewis Carroll and will appeal to viewers of all ages, although it is recommended for children aged 6 and above. The fabulously beautiful sets and costumes are by award-winning designer Robert Perdziola.
In addition to the guest performances in Copenhagen, the FNB will be celebrating the centenary of Finland’s independence with Voima (Force), a quadruple bill featuring works by four Finnish choreographers to Finnish music. Breaking the Fury by Susanna Leinonen features music for symphony orchestra by Kasperi Laine. Virpi Pahkinen will be featured with a new work to Einojuhani Rautavaara’s work Cantus Arcticus for orchestra and birdsong. The other new work on the bill will be a work by Jyrki Karttunen to Sibelius’s Valse triste. Returning to the FNB as the fourth work on the bill is Jord (Earth) by Jorma Uotinen.
FNOB reaches out to audiences of all ages, live and online
The 2016–2017 will also feature a familiar range of events for audiences of all ages, from babies to pensioners, many of the events being free of charge: the popular art breaks for children of various ages, school projects around Finland, teatime dances for senior citizens, visits to care institutions, and so on. Streaming performances free of charge in cooperation with the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE and HSTV and on the FNOB’s own Stage24 channel will continue. Also, the FNOB is partner of The Opera Platform.
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The Finnish National Opera and Ballet is an international-calibre opera and ballet company with a broad and varied repertoire. As a national arts institution, it serves the entire country: the FNO is the only professional opera company in Finland, and the FNB the only professional ballet company.
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