In a major outreach project, the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the FNO invite schoolchildren to the Opera
The performing season at the Finnish National Opera will open with Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky on 20 August. The first premiere of the season will be the grand opera Aida by Verdi in a production directed by Georg Rootering on 17 September. Beginning in November, the rarely performed masterpiece Die tote Stadt by E.W. Korngold will be brought to the stage in a new production conducted by Mikko Franck, Artistic Director of the Opera, and directed by Kasper Holten, Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera. Robin Hood, an 'opera adventure' by Finnish composer Jukka Linkola for the whole family - especially boys - will be premiered in January. The libretto is by Jukka Virtanen, and the production will be directed by Kari Heiskanen. The fourth new production this season will be Il trittico, the classic triple bill of short operas by Puccini (Il tabarro, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi), directed by Finnish directors Johanna Freundlich, Katariina Lahti and Ville Saukkonen and conducted by Mikko Franck.
The dance premiere of the autumn will be a double bill with two world premieres: Blood Wedding, a powerful work by British choreographer Cathy Marston, and Sheherazade, a fairy-tale by Kenneth Greve, Artistic Director of the Ballet. The sensuous full-length ballet Manon choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan will be premiered in March, and a triple bill of new works by Finnish woman choreographers - Virpi Pahkinen, Mammu Rankanen and Johanna Nuutinen - will be staged in Almi Hall in May.
Late September and early October will feature a tribute to Jorma Uotinen, who will be returning to the Finnish National Ballet for a celebration of his 40-year career. The Uotinen triple bill will feature his works Ballet Pathétique, the solo work La Diva, and Black Water, the latter performed by the Skåne Dance Theatre from Malmö, Sweden.
Joint projects in this season will include a music theatre production based on Carmen, the partners including DuvTeatern and the Blue Flamenco dance school. This project will bring together disabled and non-disabled actors, dancers and singers. In the project entitled Tähän asti (So far), three choirs of senior citizens will work with music students at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in a production with music and dance.
7,000 schoolchildren invited to the Opera for free by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the FNO
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Finnish National Opera in 2011, an invitation is being extended to 7,000 schoolchildren in 7th grade all around Finland to attend an opera performance for free. This major outreach project was jointly created by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, which will pay for the opera tickets and travel expenses of the schoolchildren and their supervisors, and the FNO, which will provide training for teachers to enable them to prepare their pupils for the experience.
Any school in Finland may enlist to participate, and the schools receiving the free tickets will be chosen by a lottery. Three performances of the new opera Robin Hood by Jukka Linkola have been reserved for school
groups only, and also one performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia in spring 2011. School groups also have predetermined ticket quotas for performances of The Magic Flute, Isän tyttö (Daddy's Girl), La Cenerentola, Il trittico, Rheingold and Boris Godunov in 2011.
Three new trainee soloists
Three trainee soloists were engaged at the FNO as of August 2010. The appointment is for one year. The three trainees are Finnish mezzosoprano Melis Jaatinen, Swedish soprano Hanna Husáhr and Estonian bass Koit Soasepp. They will be working alongside the regular soloists and international guest soloists of the FNO and will each be appearing in several roles during the season. "We wanted to offer talented new singers an opportunity for professional development. Being an opera singer is a job that you can only learn by doing, by performing in opera roles in professional productions," says Mikko Franck, Artistic Director of the Opera.
Melis Jaatinen will be appearing for instance as the Second Woman in The Magic Flute, Lucienne in Die tote Stadt and the Monitress in Suor Angelica. Hanna Husáhr's roles will include Adina in L'elisir d'amore, the High Priestess in Aida and Sister Osmina in Suor Angelica. Koit Soasepp will be heard as Gremin in Eugene Onegin, Bonzo in Madama Butterfly and Talpa in Il tabarro.
Opera for all Finland together with YLE and Ondine
Last season, the FNO began to work with the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) to make opera performances all over Finland. In the 2010-2011 season, the opera Pohjalaisia (The Ostrobothnians) by Leevi Madetoja will be broadcast on YLE Radio 1, and a performance of Korngold's Die tote Stadt will be seen on TV on the YLE Teema channel. Last season, the opera Punainen viiva (The Red Line) by Aulis Sallinen was broadcast on TV and the opera Aleksis Kivi by Einojuhani Rautavaara on radio.
Punainen viiva, a milestone in Finnish opera, will also be released on DVD on the Ondine label in August. Recorded at the FNO in 2008, it features Päivi Nisula and Jorma Hynninen in the principal roles and is conducted by Mikko Franck. Other releases of FNO performances include L'amour de loin by Kaija Saariaho (Deutsche Grammophon 2005) and Rasputin by Rautavaara (Ondine 2005). A DVD release is planned for Die tote Stadt.
First century of the FNO
The year 2011 marks the 100th anniversary of the FNO, as its history goes back to the founding of the Domestic Opera by Aino Ackté and Edvard Fazer in autumn 1911. There will be two world premieres of Finnish operas in the centenary year: Robin Hood by Jukka Linkola in the spring and an opera featuring the life of Aino Ackté by Ilkka Kuusisto in the autumn. A detailed programme of the repertoire and other events of the centenary year will be published in November.
New, improved surtitling
Opera productions at the FNO are principally performed in the original languages, and surtitling is provided to help the audience follow the action. The new surtitling system allows surtitles in three languages instead of the previous two: as of August 2010, all performances will have surtitles in Finnish, Swedish and English. Swedish surtitles have been on the wish list for a long time.
FNB to organise a festival of Finnish contemporary dance
The FNB will be organising a festival of Finnish contemporary dance at Almi Hall at the FNO in February and March 2011. A call is currently out for completed productions by choreographers resident in Finland; applications may be submitted until the end of August. The festival is being compiled by Kenneth Greve, Artistic Director of the Ballet. It will also feature a dance seminar and meetings of performers.
New dancers at the FNB
Julie Gardette has been engaged as a solo dancer with the FNB. Born in France 28 years ago, she trained as a ballet dancer in Lyon from 1990 to 1999. Before joining the FNB, she was engaged at the Marseille Ballet, the Zurich Ballet, the Netherlands National Ballet and the Norwegian National Ballet. This autumn, she will be appearing in the leading roles in Swan Lake and Sheherazade.
The other new dancers with the FNB from this autumn are Carmen de Freitas Nunes, Annabelle Hellinckx, Claire Voss, Andrea Bena and Ilya Bolotov, and also the former FNB dancer trainees Guilherme Gameiro Alves and Nikolas Koskivirta. The FNB currently has 76 members, representing 14 nationalities, and nine dancer trainees. Seven new dancer trainees were engaged this autumn.
Press bulletin 24 August 2010