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We want to ensure that Finnish opera and ballet will continue to flourish in the future, too.  Thus we award grants and scholarships from a variety of funds every year, to artists and other professionals of Opera and Ballet.

Do you want to take part in building the future of opera and ballet? Read more about our funds and become a patron of the arts.

Maria Mannermaa, Soprano

I started studying classical singing when I was 18. Soon I found myself so interested in it that I abandoned my plans to become a vet. I’m glad I persisted with the studies, as I now have a tenure as a singer at the Finnish National Opera – my dream place to work.

Singing in an opera chorus is wonderful, but at the same time it’s highly demanding. Our extremely varied repertoire requires both professional skills and caring for one’s voice. The voice and the body are a singer’s instruments, and just like any instrument, they need maintenance. Courses and competitions give me extra motivation for developing my voice. It’s wonderful to get financial support for participating in these courses, which can be very costly. In 2016, for example, I used a scholarship to take part in a master class. The same trip took me to the Kangasniemi Singing Contest where I was awarded second prize.

Matti Ahde’s Fund

Minna Linnove-Pulakka, Violist

I have been enthusiastic about classical music since I was a little girl. I remember how I used to secretly listen to music, as my parents said I was too young to use the record player on my own. I started playing violin when I was 8, and changed to viola when I was 16.

I have been awarded a grant for taking private lessons. Their purpose is to hone my playing technique: if you always play the same way, your skills will deteriorate. The combination of independent practice and lessons breathes life into my playing. Besides new ideas, you have revelations – wow, it can be played like this, too! While attending a course, you might also be reminded of something you’ve forgotten. Courses help activate skills that are already there.

Alfons Almi’s Fund

Emrecan Tanış, Dancer & Choreographer

I joined Finnish National Ballet in 2010. I’ve been here for nine years now and this company is like a family to me. Dancing and choreographing is my way of expressing myself, communicating with people and talking about topics, which are important to me. I love to share stories that touch me the most and to find connection with the audience both when I dance and when I choreograph.

I recently received a scholarship to develop my profession. With that support, I will take some summer courses from ImPulsTanz in Vienna. They have a really diverse repertoire, and this will help me to develop as a dancer and as a choreographer.

Kenneth Greve’s Fund

Pipsa Keski-Hakuni, Props Designer

My educational background is in props design and Theatre Arts, in which I have a Master’s degree. It’s my passion to combine craftsmanship and theoretical knowledge to create practical, eye-opening results. I started working at the opera 10 years ago.

I applied for a grant for my studies, as I’m currently working on my PhD at Aalto University. The subject of my doctoral thesis is Staged Animality, and I examine the representation of animals on stage through props, sets and costumes. It’s an interesting subject, as animal studies have developed enormously, and these days animals are no longer seen only as servants to humans. My research is directly connected to my work, since we create a lot of animal characters at the opera. I hope my research will expand the animal imagery of performing arts, while perhaps paving the way to a less anthropocentric outlook.

Opera and Ballet Grant Fund

Petri Sarkkila, Lighting Operator

I have been working at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet for 18 years. I’m responsible for programming the lighting together with the lighting designer. What makes lighting so fascinating is realising how massive its part is in a performance. Without light there would be nothing to see. A lot of atmospheres can be created purely through lighting.

In 2016 I applied for a grant to take part in Live Design International, an event for live production professionals that takes place in Las Vegas. Meetings and workshops with different colleagues were very educational, and it was great to discover other people’s insights into solving different problems. At the same time, you could assess your own skills and expertise in relation to international colleagues. The trip gave me a lot of ideas about strengthening my identity as a lighting designer, as well as future possibilities for the role of the lighting technician.

Opera and Ballet Grant Fund

Erica Back, Mezzo-Soprano

I have always sung in a choir, and I played the French horn when I was little. Opera wasn’t my passion to begin with, and I was rather planning on becoming a vocal pedagogue. I was often told that my voice wasn’t strong enough. While studying in Sweden, I finally had a revelation. I had the chance to perform in the same opera as the international star Peter Mattei, and that opened up a new world to me. I understand what opera was all about and I fell in love with it.

Thanks to the grant I’ve been able to take singing classes in Munich with Christiane Iven. As a teacher, she can offer me exactly what I need at this stage of my career. She knows how to explain things just right. Her classes have been useful for my singing technique.

Opera Singers’ Fund

Samuli Peltonen, Solo Cellist

I have played the cello for over 30 years. My father is a Cellist and my mother is a Pianist, so music has always been a part of my life. At best, classical music electrifies and deeply moves you – the scale of emotions is huge. Add to that the acting, the lighting, the chorus, as well as the costumes and the sets and, you’re talking about an all-encompassing experience.

I play a highly valuable instrument, a cello by Giovanni Grancino from 1702. It’s been expertly made from the best quality wood. It has resonated on the same frequency for 300 years, which has brought out the acoustical properties of the living wood. Playing it would have been impossible without the support of the Valuable Instruments Fund and Mandatum Life, as I could never afford such an instrument.

The cello was enabled by Mandatum Life and its investment product targeted at professional investors, and the Valuable Instruments Fund of the Opera and Ballet Grant Foundation.

Viola Länsivuori, Dancer

I have danced as long as I remember, since I was about 5 years old. It’s hard for me to imagine life without dance, as nothing makes me feel better. Last autumn I started in the Finnish National Ballet Youth Company. It’s amazing to be here, but it’s also really demanding.

In the last couple of years, I have applied for a grant to attend summer courses and for dance auditions abroad. International experience is very important to a dancer’s development. There are so many great teachers who are all different. Without a grant I could never have gained such a vast amount of information and new experiences.

Opera and Ballet Grant Foundation’s endowment, as well as Opera and Ballet Grant Fund


Do you want to take part in building the future of opera and ballet?