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Leevi Madetoja

The Ostrobothnians

3 H, incl. interval (estimated duration, specified during the premiere week)
22.11.2024 – 4.1.2025
Main Stage
Price range
21–138 €
Finnish. Surtitles in Finnish, Swedish and English
Age recommendation

Comedy and tragedy collide in Finland’s ‘national’ opera

Finland, the world’s happiest country, has also been dubbed the land of thousands of sad songs: violence, alcoholism and inequality lurk in the shadows of the Nordic welfare society.

Leevi Madetoja’s (1887–1947) The Ostrobothnians (”Pohjalaisia”) is often called Finland’s national opera, and rightly so. It’s a story about persistence, human rights, and freedom. Pohjalaisia was first performed in 1924. A century later, it reminds us of the timeless nature of stories that stir the human soul. The melodic music of the opera appeals to the emotions with its wistful undertones.

Now, The Ostrobothnians has been reinterpreted by some of Finland’s leading creatives. In his first opera, director Paavo Westerberg moves the story forward with cinematic impact. The set design is reminiscent of classic Westerns, in the style of the Coen brothers.


In a small village on the Ostrobothnian plains, the Sheriff, an imperious law enforcement officer, maintains order through violence, humiliating the local peasants. Antti’s escape from Harri’s house on his way to prison triggers a series of events that elevate freedom above life itself.

Full synopsis and other background information can be found in the programme leaflet.

creative team

Leevi Madetoja
Libretto after a play by Artturi Järviluoma
Leevi Madetoja
Kaapo Ijas
Paavo Westerberg
Erlend Birkeland
Maria Geber
Lighting design
Ellen Ruge
Klevis Elmazaj


Erkki Harri
Jukka Rasilainen
Jussi Harri
Ville Rusanen
Jussi Harri
Jussi Vänttinen
Maija Harri
Johanna Lehesvuori
Maija Harri
Maria Turunen
Iida Antola
Antti Hanka
Markus Nykänen
Antti Hanka
Johannes Vatjus
Mika Pohjonen
Tuomas Pursio
Lay Judge
Aarne Pelkonen
Bridge bailiff
Sampo Haapaniemi
Bridge bailiff
Visa Kohva
Roland Liiv
Köysti of Karjanmaa
Marko Nykänen
Köysti of Karjanmaa
Aapo Kilpelä
1st herdsgirl
Emma Mustaniemi
2nd herdsgirl
Elisaveta Rimkevitch

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Programme booklets

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