The world premiere of the new opera by Kaija Saariaho, Sofi Oksanen and Aleksi Barrière at Festival d’Aix-en-Province on 3 July 2021 was a major success. The premiere at the Finnish National Opera will take place on 21 October 2022.
Innocence is a ravishing opera that takes place in two parallel periods of time. It deals with the wounds of the past, the passing of time, and the act of letting go. A wedding party is underway in Helsinki, but the groom’s family has a dark secret. When the events from a decade ago begin to unravel, the guests face a moment of truth.
The opera includes scenes about a school shooting.
Innocence is a co-production of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, the Finnish National Opera, the Royal Opera House in London, the Dutch National Opera, and the San Francisco Opera. In partnership with the Metropolitan Opera.
Artists’ photos: Toni Härkönen.
”A thriller, a triumph, a breakthrough” -Helsingin Sanomat
”The most anticipated new opera of the year” -The New York Times
”A masterpiece” -Le Figaro
A collaboration between Saariaho, Oksanen and Barrière
Saariaho’s fifth opera
Kaija Saariaho counts among the most internationally acclaimed Finnish composers of all time. In a recent vote on today’s most influential contemporary composers by the BBC, Saariaho came in 17th place, higher than any other composer alive today.
Saariaho is considered one of the world’s most original contemporary composers, and her work is continually performed around the globe. Saariaho is known for her sophisticated orchestration and dreamlike, slowly building soundscapes. Her operas have been true success stories – to date, the Finnish National Opera has performed L’Amour de loin, Adriana Mater, Émilie, and most recently Only the Sound Remains in 2017. Innocence is Saariaho’s fifth opera.
Libretto by Sofi Oksanen
Sofi Oksanen is Finland’s most successful and internationally famed contemporary novelist. She has been awarded 20 literary prizes, including the Finlandia Prize and the Nordic Council Literature Prize. Her work has been translated into more than 50 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
Oksanen made her breakthrough as a writer with the play The Purge (Finnish National Theatre 2007). A novel on the same subject quickly became one of Finland’s most popular novels ever, and the world premiere of Jüri Reinvere’s opera based on the novel took place at the Finnish National Opera in 2012. Innocence is Oksanen’s first opera libretto.
Dramaturg and translator Aleksi Barrière
Aleksi Barrière has collaborated closely with Oksanen and Saariaho since 2013. Besides creating the multilingual version of the libretto for Innocence, he has worked as the opera’s dramaturg. Innocence was composed to a libretto in nine languages, which the multilingual Barrière translated from Oksanen’s Finnish text.
Together with conductor Clément Mao-Takacs, Barrière has founded the music theatre company La Chambre aux échos, which focuses on developing new forms of music theatre and expanding the dialogue between the different genres of art. The company’s production Violences, which had its world premiere in Paris in 2017, was seen at the Finnish National Opera in February 2019.
An international group of guests are celebrating a wedding in Helsinki. The fiancé is Finnish, the bride Romanian, and the mother-in-law French. But suddenly, during the wedding banquet, the Czech waitress feels ill…
The groom has a dark secret and the wedding banquet is haunted by tragic events that took place years earlier. Ghosts revive their memories of the trauma, there is a guilty haze, a lost innocence.
The full synopsis can be found in the programme leaflet.