The Finnish National Opera's 2011-2012 season has plenty of new attractions to offer. There will be no fewer than five new opera productions and three new ballet productions premiering on the main stage, and a number of favourites will be returning to the repertoire. A long-awaited Baroque opera will be performed alongside new 21st-century works, and ballet enthusiasts will be treated to classics recreated by choreographers visiting Finland for the first time and to productions by leading Finnish choreographers.
Tickets are now on sale for performances at the FNO to the end of 2011. Tickets are available at Lippupiste salespoints around the country (tel. +358 600 900 900, EUR 1.97 per min + local network charge, daily 07.00-22.00) and at the FNO ticket office (tel. +358 9 4030 2211, Mon to Thu 09.00-18.00, Sat 15.00-18.00, email@example.com). The Lippupiste online shop is at lippu.fi.
Baroque, French and new opera
The first new production will be Doctor Atomic by John Adams. A profile of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the nuclear physicist who was instrumental in developing the atomic bomb, it is a devastatingly topical work. The opera was completed in 2005, and this production created by director Immo Karaman and choreographer Fabian Posca was nominated for the distinguished Der Faust theatre prize in Germany last year. The premiere of Doctor Atomic on 4 November marks its first performance in the Nordic countries. The principal roles will be taken by Lee Poulis/Jaakko Kortekangas and Jessica Rivera/Sabina Čvilak .
The 100th anniversary of the FNO will culminate in the premiere of a new production of a milestone in Finnish opera, Juha by Aarre Merikanto, on 2 December. Director Anna Kelo is transposing the story to our time: Juha is here the proprietor of a service station sidelined by a new motorway; he loses his wife Marja to Shemeikka, who offers her a life of luxury amidst the nouveaux riche of Tallinn. The visual design of the production is by Jani Uljas, Erika Turunen and Mikki Kunttu. The cast will include Tommi Hakala/Jaakko Kortekangas as Juha, Camilla Nylund as Marja and Jyrki Anttila as Shemeikka.
Giulio Cesare by G.F. Handel will be performed on the main stage on 20 January. The title role will be taken by world-famous countertenor Franco Fagioli, and the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra conducted by Baroque specialist Howard Arman will be the guest orchestra. The director is Ville Saukkonen, and the visual designer is Patrick Woodroffe, known for his lighting designs for such world-class acts as ABBA, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.
Artistic Director Mikko Franck has picked out a gem of French opera, Pélleas et Mélisande by Debussy. This classic Impressionist opera was last performed at the FNO in 1958. The main roles will be taken by a distinguished trio of singers: Topi Lehtipuu, François le Roix and Angelika Kirchschlager. The premiere will be on 23 March. Performances will be conducted by Mikko Franck, and the director and visual designer is Marco Arturo Marelli.
The fifth opera premiere of the season is Purge, based on the novel by Sofi Oksanen, with libretto and music by Jüri Reinvere. The premiere will be on 20 April, 2012. The role of Aliide will be taken by Helena Juntunen and that of Zara by Niina Keitel/Melis Jaatinen.
Wagner's gigantic Ring tetralogy will return to the repertoire from 5 August. Other productions returning to the repertoire include Carmen with Fredrika Brillembourg and Matilda Paulsson, Il trittico, Boris Godunov with Matti Salminen in the title role, the classics La rondine, Il viaggio a Reims and La fanciulla del West, and last but not least Rusalka, which attained huge popularity in its opening season.
Introducing the 90th anniversary year of the Ballet
As the 100th anniversary year of the FNO concludes, the Finnish National Ballet starts to celebrate its 90th anniversary. Before that in the autumn, the FNB will be premiering Cinderella by 27-year-old Australian-born star choreographer Terence Kohler on 14 October. Kohler's vision is no fairy tale, but a compelling and intensive piece of dance theatre using the movement language of classical ballet.
A new production of the classic comic ballet Coppelia will be premiered on 24 February. Choreographer Marc Ribaud has transposed the action to the fantasy world of early 20th-century French filmmaker Georges Méliès. The music is by Léo Delibes. This production by visual designers Dirk Hofacker and Jacques Chatelet was originally created for the Royal Swedish Ballet.
The contemporary dance premiere on the main stage on 11 May, 2012 will feature three prominent Finnish choreographers. The triple bill consists of Kaira by Susanna Leinonen, exploring an inverse movement from complexity to simplicity; Double Evil, created by Jorma Elo for the San Francisco Ballet; and Mariage by Tero Saarinen, a reflection on the grief, loss and never-ending drama in Les noces by Stravinsky.
The 90th anniversary year of the FNB opens with two anniversary galas on 27 and 28 January. These will feature extracts from key ballets in the history of the FNB and also highlights from contemporary virtuoso performances. Returning to the repertoire are the productions of Blood Wedding & Scheherazade by Kathy Marston and Kenneth Greve, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King for the whole family at Christmas, and La Bayadère.
Almi Hall will be featuring an interesting selection of Finnish and foreign contemporary dance in Bits & Pieces premiered on 9 September, with choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Petr Zuska, Itzik Galili, Satu Tuomisto, Minna Tervamäki & Robert Sher-Machherndl and Johanna Nuutinen. Also, Almi Hall will once again transform itself into Helsinki's wildest dance club, as the Dance with Dancers evening returns by popular request on 17 September.
Press release April 18, 2011