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24 Nov 2010

Finnish National Opera to celebrate centenary throughout 2011

The year 2011 will be filled with a variety of celebratory performances at the Finnish National Opera in honour of the 100th anniversary of the founding of its predecessor, the Domestic Opera. The centenary will be marked with two world premieres of new Finnish operas and a range of other special events.

In its centenary year, the FNO will be active beyond the Opera House in many ways, for instance through regional guest performances, exhibitions, several TV broadcasts and DVD releases. The year will also include two centenary seminars, a series of lectures and open house days. Moreover, 7,000 seventh-grade pupils from all around Finland will be coming to the FNO to enjoy an opera performance free of charge, thanks to support from the Finnish Cultural Foundation. Special events also include an opera production based on Carmen created by actors with developmental disabilities, flamenco dancers and four opera singers.

The centenary year will be launched with the world premiere of a new adventure opera on 14 January. Aimed at young audiences and packed with energy and stage tricks, Robin Hood was created by Jukka Virtanen (libretto) and Jukka Linkola (music), and the production will be directed by Kari Heiskanen. The other world premiere of the year recalls the early years of opera in Finland: the historical opera Aino Ackté by Ilkka Kuusisto will be premiered on 2 December, and the title role - Finland's first diva and the founder of the FNO - will be taken by soprano Camilla Nylund.

Also on the programme in 2011 will be the Puccini triple bill Il trittico (premiere on 13 May) and the celebrated opera Doctor Atomic by John Adams (premiere on 4 November), which focuses on the genesis of the world's first atomic bomb and the life of its principal developer, J.R. Oppenheimer. Its libretto is by Peter Sellars, and it was originally premiered in 2005. The FNO production will be directed by German-Turkish director Immo Karaman and conducted by Mikko Franck.

The gala concert Finnish National Opera at 100! on 29 January will feature a star-studded lineup of soloists and the Chorus and Orchestra of the FNO. The concert will be conducted by Leif Segerstam, and soloists will include Soile Isokoski, Camilla Nylund, Tommi Hakala, Jorma Hynninen, Mika Pohjonen, Tuomas Pursio and Matti Salminen.

The acclaimed production of Wagner's Ring will finally be returning to the repertoire in August, with Leif Segerstam conducting and with Norwegian baritone Terje Stensvold as Wotan, British soprano Catherine Foster as Brünnhilde and Matti Salminen as Hagen. The entire Ring cycle will be performed twice between 5 August and 11 September.

The new productions of the Finnish National Ballet in 2011 will be the sensual Manon by Sir Kenneth MacMillan (premiere on 11 March) and the full-length ballet Cinderella by the young Australian choreographer Terence Kohler (premiere on 14 October), and new works by Virpi Pahkinen, Mammu Rankanen and Johanna Nuutinen in a triple bill entitled Pahkinen-Rankanen-Nuutinen that will be performed in Almi Hall from 19 May.

Tickets for spring 2011 are now available at the Opera ticket office and at Lippupiste. Tickets for autumn 2011 will go on sale in April.

Repertoire 2011

Opera premieres
Robin Hood, 14 January
Il trittico, 13 May
Doctor Atomic, 4 November
Aino Ackté, 2 December

Other operas
Faust, from  22 January
The Merry Widow, from 4 February
Aleksis Kivi, Almi Hall, from 15 February
Daddy's Girl, from 18 February
La Cenerentola, from 18 March
Parsifal, from 9 April
Il barbiere di Siviglia, from 21 April
Der Ring des Nibelungen: Rheingold, 5 August and 5 September; Walküre, 13 August and 7 September; Siegfried, 24 August and 9 September; Götterdämmerung, 3 and 11 September
Carmen, from 17 September
Il trittico, from 26 September
Boris Godunov, from 22 October
La rondine, from 20 December

Ballet premieres
Manon, 11 March
Pahkinen-Rankanen-Nuutinen, Almi Hall, 19 May
Tuhkimo, 14 October

Other ballets and dance productions
The Blood Wedding & Scheherazade, from 21 September
Don Quixote, from 12 November
The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, from 10 December

Other repertoire
Finnish National Opera at 100!, gala concert, 29 January
Bird with black wings - variation on Carmen, Almi Hall, from 22 January