Höstsonaten – Autumn Sonata, which drew sell-out audiences to the Finnish National Opera in the 2017–2018 season, is a finalist in International Opera Awards 2018. The opera composed by Sebastian Fagerlund is a nominee for the “World Premiere” prize. International Opera Awards will be announced at a red carpet ceremony on Monday 9th April in London Coliseum.
”It’s a story that will always be relevant – about people’s selfishness, their need to be seen, and finally, forgiveness.”
– Sebastian Fagerlund, Helsingin Sanomat 4.9.2017
Anne Sofie von Otter in the lead role
Höstsonaten – Autumn Sonata is the meeting of a story by cinema legend Ingmar Bergman and the music of Sebastian Fagerlund, one of the most highly acclaimed Finnish composers of his generation. Gunilla Hemming adapted a libretto from Bergman’s film of the same name, reflecting on human choices, hidden conflicts in families and the possibility of forgiveness. The role of Charlotte has been specially composed for Anne Sofie von Otter, one of the most highly esteemed mezzo-sopranos of our time. This is the first time Von Otter has been seen on the Finnish National Opera stage.
Recommended for children over the age of 12.
”Höstsonaten – Autumn Sonata is a multilayered and powerful relationship drama. Its protagonists meet up in the dark hours of the night and end up having to question the choices they’ve made and their consequences. Underlying the drama, we have the eternal themes of forgiveness and the ability to accept other people as they are. Even as I was starting out the work, I felt as if the story and its characters were waiting for me somewhere in the depths of my mind. The tidal surges of the opera’s music still have an unusual pull on me.”
– composer Sebastian Fagerlund
Autumn Sonata is supported by Svenska kulturfonden.
“A mother and a daughter, what a terrible combination.” – Eva, Autumn Sonata
Photographic exhibition inspired by Autumn Sonata
A central theme of Autumn Sonata is the relationship between mother and daughter. Inspired by the opera, we started looking for mothers and daughters to pose as models for photographer Meeri Koutaniemi asking them to tell their story. Over 1,200 applications were filed, of which 11 pairs were finally selected for this unique photography project. The results are on display in the main foyer of the Opera House 8 September–31 December 2017.
Mothers and daughters photographic exhibition
Open Tue-Fri 12-19, Sat 12-18 and during performances. Free admission.
It’s autumn and the parsonage is anticipating Charlotte’s visit. Charlotte, a celebrated pianist, has been touring concert halls and has not seen her daughters Eva and Helena in seven years. Helena is sick and mute, and Eva and her husband Viktor have lost their three-year-old son Erik. Charlotte is also bereaved: her partner Leonardo has died.
Charlotte arrives and immediately starts talking about her new clothes. Soon she finds out that Helena, whom she had put in a care home, now lives at the parsonage. Charlotte is left alone, with only her imaginary concert audience for company, to which she laments the uncomfortable situation. When Eva takes her to see Helena, Leonardo appears, too, and hints at something that happened while they were in Bornholm together. Charlotte doesn’t understand what Helena is trying to say. She is resolved to cut her visit short, and her admiring audience backs the decision.
In the evening Charlotte asks Eva to play the piano, but it’s obvious she doesn’t appreciate her daughter’s performance. The audience seems to be bored by it, too. The next day, Viktor tells Charlotte how the arrival of Erik changed their life. Then, just before his fourth birthday, Erik drowned. Why had God taken everything away? Charlotte doesn’t know what to say. Eva thinks Erik is still with her: thoughts and feelings can reach beyond death.
As Charlotte is getting ready for bed and takes her sedatives, a scream breaks the silence of the house. Eva hurries to calm down Helena and meets Charlotte. Their heated discussion brings repressed emotions to the surface. Eva can’t decide which was worse –Charlotte being away on tour or being at home. ”Mother and daughter, what a terrible combination of emotions,” Eva says.
Eva describes how she felt when her mother would always leave for her concert tours. Charlotte remembers the fear of losing her career. Helena screams again and Eva leaves to attend to her sister.
Charlotte tells her admiring audience she wasn’t prepared for such a conversation. Little by little, the conflict between mother and daughter unravels the secrets of the past: when Eva was pregnant at the age of 18, Charlotte pressured her to abort the unborn baby. “Can a daughter never break free from her mother”, Viktor wonders.
Helena begins to speak, recalling how one Easter in Bornholm, years ago, Leonardo kissed her and she felt at peace. Charlotte had then asked Leonardo to stay, as his presence was good for Helena. Now Eva, Viktor and Leonardo all blame Charlotte for Helena’s illness. Once left alone with her audience, Charlotte apologises for everything she has done wrong. She wants to change.
In the morning, Viktor tells Helena that Charlotte has gone. Helena starts to scream and. Eva regrets their argument and writes to Charlotte that she has wronged her. At the same time elsewhere, Charlotte speaks to her agent about the visit and asks why the sick Helena shouldn’t be allowed to die. “There’s an opportunity for us to take care of each other, I don’t think it’s too late,” Eva writes.
Autumn Sonata was streamed online world wide on Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE’s website, Finnish National Opera and Ballet Stage24 and The Opera Platform on 23rd September 2017. The opera is now available as video on demand.
Sweet and savoury for the season
See what you like: choose your favourites on this season’s rich menu.
Book your refreshments beforehand online or at the Opera Restaurant sales desk; you will have a much wider range to choose from, and you will not have to queue in the interval. Download the seating plan of the Opera Restaurant (PDF).
Opera Restaurant sales desk
Tel. +358 9 4030 2377 on weekdays 09.00–11.00 and 12.00–16.00
Service desk beside the box office in the Opera House foyer on the Töölönlahti side open from Tuesday to Friday 12.00–16.00
Buy a season ticket and get benefits
If you visit us several times a year and would like to ensure that you get a seat at future premieres, the season ticket is a perfect choice for you. As a season ticket holder, you will receive discounts and benefits and a designated seat in the auditorium.
We are here to help you both in person and by phone, Monday through Saturday.
Read about step-free access at the Opera House.
Becoming a regular customer is worth it: see the twelve benefits granted to season ticket holders.
Pull back the curtain and take a peek backstage on a guided tour.
Find out more about the performances.
Give a friend or family member an evening at the opera or ballet.
Performances for children and tips for families.
Read more about exchanging your ticket, ticket types, flexible pricing, discounts and our sales and delivery terms.
Press and Media
Press bulletins, photos and tickets, interview requests and PR staff contact details.
The Opera House is easily accessible by car, public transport and even bicycle.
Fancy a treat? The Opera Restaurant has plenty of delectable options. Services are available before performances and during the interval.
Groups and companies
Make a splash and organise a reception at the Opera House.