Finnish National Opera celebrates Jean Sibelius 150th anniversary
The FNO and the FNB will be contributing to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius with the world premiere of the expansive Kullervo by Tero Saarinen and with a fabulous concert themed around the work of author Roald Dahl, to which 4,000 schoolchildren in the 4th grade in Helsinki will be invited. There will also be a new school opera featuring Sibelius, Jannen salaisuus (Janne’s secret).
The Finnish National Opera and the Finnish National Ballet will be contributing to the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius with three productions. The major effort is the world premiere of the expansive Kullervo by choreographer Tero Saarinen on the main stage on 13 February 2015. Sibelius’s massive work based on a tragic tale from the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, will spring to life as Saarinen, well known for his powerful movement language and compelling staging, tackles the story of the conflict-ridden Kullervo. Members of the FNB and the Tero Saarinen Company will join forces with the men of the Chorus of the FNO and the Helsinki Philharmonic Choir, with vocal soloists from the FNO. Performances will be conducted alternately by Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Pietari Inkinen. Mikki Kunttu is the set and lighting designer, and the costumes are by Erika Turunen. Kullervo is a joint production by the FNO and the Tero Saarinen Company.
All 4th-graders in Helsinki are invited
Beloved children’s author Roald Dahl and music written for the stage by Jean Sibelius come together in a fairy-tale concert for the whole family. Told in Finnish, the Sibelius as Storyteller concert in May will feature the story of a boy, who meets a dangerous creature in the forest and ends up visiting tiny people who live in the treetops, the Minpins. Underpinning this tale of childhood, conquering fear and communing with nature are the magnificent Tapiola, the imaginative Tempest music and extracts from symphonies and other works by Sibelius. The Orchestra of the FNO will be conducted by Anu Tali, and Timo Torikka will be the storyteller. The set designer is Anna Kontek and the lighting designer is Olli-Pekka Koivunen.
There will be five performances of this concert in the main auditorium, beginning on 7 May. Three of the performances will be for schoolchildren, the FNO having invited all 4th-graders in Helsinki – about 4,000 of them – to the concert with their teachers.
Schoolchildren perform an opera about the childhood of Sibelius
The sixth in the FNO’s series of school operas will be premiered in March: Jannen salaisuus (Janne’s secret) by Olli Kortekangas to a libretto by Minna Lindgren. The opera will be performed by pupils of Jousenkaari School in Espoo along with professional singers. The main character is Janne, or Jean Sibelius as a schoolchild in Hämeenlinna in the 1870s. Jannen salaisuus is about the growth of a child towards his secret ambition and greatest talent: composing music.
In autumn 2015 and spring 2016, dozens of schools all around Finland will be performing Jannen salaisuus. The FNO has been producing school operas with 5th-grade and 6th-grade pupils for 14 years. To date, 13,582 children at 267 schools around Finland have gained hands-on experience of opera through these productions.
Spring tickets now on sale
Individual tickets for Kullervo, Sibelius as Storyteller and other productions are now on sale. The spring premieres also include the colourful and fantastic opera The Cunning Little Vixen by Janáček; Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Wagner’s only comedy; the monodrama Émilie by Kaija Saariaho; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, choreographed by Jorma Elo to music by Felix Mendelssohn. The opera repertoire will also include Puccini’s La Bohème, Verdi’s Aïda and the operetta Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss. The ballet repertoire will include the upbeat classic Don Quixote. The Chorus of the FNO, Finland’s only full-time professional choir, will be celebrating its 70th anniversary with gala concerts in April.
Finnish National Opera / Communications Department
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The Finnish National Opera 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 Finnish National Ballet is the only professional ballet company.
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