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Total duration 2 h 30 min
1 intermission (30 min)
9 performances
11.3.2022 – 14.5.2022
Main Stage
20-129 €

A dance through the national composer’s life

Jorma Elo’s new ballet is about Jean Sibelius and his creativity, which inspires him to push forward. Nevertheless, his life wouldn’t be possible without Aino – her love, creativity and understanding. Though Jean is the main character, the story is both Aino’s and Jean’s. Their love is at the heart of the ballet, and the audience is shown each character’s point of view. Aino and Jean’s burning love and passion is a constant through the decades, in spite of the obstacles. It’s the driving force behind everything.

Suggested age guidance 7+.

Movement language from classical ballet

Jorma Elo’s keen interest in story-form classical ballets in recent years is apparent in the structure and movement language of Sibelius. The classical movement language is only disrupted in the few scenes that take place in the creative world of Aino and Jean’s minds. In those scenes the movement language, too, is fully inspired by the music. The Violin Concerto, for example, features more modern movement language.

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Please stay home if you have symptoms. You can cancel your tickets and refreshments as late as 24 hours before the performance starts. Read more about our safety recommendations here.

Tickets & Performances

2 h 30 min
1 intermission (30 min)
9 performances
11.3.2022 – 14.5.2022
Main Stage
20-129 €
Fri 11.3.2022
at 19:00
Sat 12.3.2022
at 19:00
Tue 15.3.2022
at 19:00
Thu 17.3.2022
at 19:00
Sat 19.3.2022
at 14:00
Wed 23.3.2022
at 19:00
Thu 24.3.2022
at 19:00
Fri 25.3.2022
at 19:00
Sat 14.5.2022
at 19:00

Featuring Sibelius’s most affecting music

Jorma Elo explored Sibelius’s work in depth to find the most suitable music for his ballet. Excerpts from several different pieces come together beautifully in a score that follows the composer’s life. Sibelius’s compositions for the stage, which are particularly fitting to the story, are complemented by pieces close to Elo’s heart, such as the Violin Concerto, Symphony No. 5, and Finlandia.

”To me, the Violin Concerto has always been Sibelius’s most important composition, and I’ve also used it in one of my most popular ballets. I never stop wondering why it affects me, the audience and the dancers so much. Symphony No. 5 also gives me goosebumps every time, and Finlandia brings tears to my eyes. It touches all Finns – particularly us who have lived abroad for a long time.”

Spectacular visuality evokes Finland’s national awakening

Set and costume designer Robert Perdziola has found visual inspiration in the paintings of Aino Sibelius’s brother Eero Järnefelt and photos of early 20th century Helsinki. The classic beauty of the costumes, which reflects the fashions of the period, is juxtaposed with the abstract costumes illustrating Sibelius’s composition process. Perdziola, an American, has visited Finland and explored Finnish nature, which inspired both Elo and Sibelius. His sketches illustrate the essence of Finnishness, while also showing Ainola, the Järnefelts’ summer villa, Helsinki and other quintessentially Finnish locations from a fresh point of view.  


Watch trailer


Young Jean is reading a book with beautiful white swans on the cover. At his father’s funeral, Jean’s imagination carries him away from the sorrow.

Armas Järnefelt arrives at his family’s villa together with his friend Jean Sibelius. Jean feels uncomfortable in the company of the upper-class family, but there’s a mutual attraction between him and Armas’s sister, Aino. Aino’s sensitive, mentally disturbed sister, Elli, takes her own life in the forest. The shocked Aino leans on Jean in her grief. 

Aino and Jean get engaged. Aino’s father finally gives his blessing upon hearing about the success of Jean’s composition, Kullervo.

Sibelius travels to Vienna to study composition and takes part in an audition for an orchestra. He relishes the bohemian freedom of Vienna and spends his time partying and gambling, ending up at a brothel. As he returns to Finland, his angered wife, Aino, eventually forgives him and tells him she is pregnant.

Years later, Jean is composing his violin concerto. At the rehearsal of the world premiere, the musicians are laughing at his nerves. Later, crushed by negative reviews, Jean heads out drinking. Upon coming home, he finds Aino distraught: their daughter, Kirsti, has died of typhoid fever. The shared grief reignites Jean and Aino’s love.  

Jean is in Italy, still composing to provide for himself and his family. In his despair, he sees Kirsti in a nightmare and is overcome by guilt over the loss of his daughter. 

As the civil war breaks out, the family flees Helsinki, but during their escape, they are threatened by the red guard. Jean’s brother bribes the soldiers to let them go. Jean sees a flock of swans flying above and is inspired to compose.

Sibelius is rehearsing to conduct a concert and drinks to calm his nerves. At the concert, Aino is saddened by seeing her inebriated husband.

The Sibelius family is happy. Aino and Jean have found each other again, and Jean resists the temptation of debauchery. 

An old man now, Jean is one of Finland’s most famous people. At his birthday party, his mind is burdened by the grim events of the past. Aino and Jean’s children arrive with their frail families to cheer up the frail Jean. As Jean dies of a heart attack in Aino’s arms, Aino is overcome by memories.  

The full synopsis and other background information will be available in the programme leaflet.

Creative team

Jorma Elo
Jean Sibelius
Richard Strauss
Sets, costumes
Robert Perdziola
Lighting design
Brandon Stirling Baker
Petri Sarkkila
Dramaturgic assistant to choreographer, artistic advisor
Nancy Euverink


Jean sibelius
Henry Grey
Richard strauss
Nicholas Ziegler

#Sibelius #FNBSibelius

”We were looking for a story for the centenary celebration of the Finnish National Ballet, which would touch me personally and have a connection to Finland. The love for this music I share with all Finns adds depth to the viewing experience.”

– choreographer Jorma Elo

Listen to Sibelius

Watch at Stage24

Watch the recording on Stage24

Watch the recording of Sibelius on Stage24. The recording is produced by the Finnish broadcasting company Yle in cooperation with the Finnish National Opera and Ballet.


It's time to celebrate!

The Finnish National Ballet celebrates its centenary in 2022. The production is part of the centenary programme of events.

We also celebrate the centenary online. Read about the twists and turns of the ballet company, browse videos from over the decades, and discover the spring season’s centenary programme.

Complete the experience with refreshments

What can we get you?

Choose your favourite refreshments from this season’s tasty menu. You can easily add refreshments to your shopping basket while selecting tickets in our online store.

The services of the Opera Restaurant are available before performances and during the interval. Order beforehand and avoid the queues.

Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific table for orders made via the online store. We may also seat several parties at the same table. You may be assigned a bar height table for enjoying refreshments standing up.