Innocence by Saariaho receives its world premiere at Aix-en-Provence Festival

Innocence by Saariaho receives its world premiere at Aix-en-Provence Festival
© Toni Härkönen - Kaija Saariaho & Sofi Oksanen

On July 3, Innocence, the latest opera by Kaija Saariaho will receive its world premiere at Aix-en-Provence Festival. Other performances will follow on July 6, 10 and 12. It has been jointly commissioned by the Festival International d'Art Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Finnish National Opera, San Francisco Opera and Dutch National Opera.

A live stream of the opera on July 10 at 8pm (CEST) via arte concert will be available from Festival d'Aix-en-Provence - ARTE Concert | ARTE.

Innocence is the result of a meeting between Kaija Saariaho, Aleksi Barrière and another Finnish artist, the novelist Sofi Oksanen, who is unrivalled in her ability to force today’s reality to confront the past. Innocence – a multiplot opera for soloists, chorus and orchestra – is a contemporary tragedy made radiant through its powerful music and the intermingling of words from different languages. The world premiere is conducted by musical director Susanna Mälkki and staged by the Australian theatre director Simon Stone. The outstanding cast includes Magdalena Kožená, Sandrine Piau, Tuomas Pursio,Lilian Farahani, Markus Nykänen, Jukka Rasilainen and Lucy Shelton, among other great performers.

Innocence is a thriller, but also a story about recovery and healing. I am happy this opera will come to the world, as I know how much we need it”
– Kaija Saariaho

Innocence is an opera in five acts to be presented without interval. The main singing language is English and additional languages are Finnish, Czech, French, Romanian, Swedish, German, Spanish, Greek. It is a typical wedding for a cosmopolitan city, in present-day Finland. The fiancé is Finnish, the bride Romanian, and the mother-in-law French. But suddenly, during the wedding banquet, the Czech waitress feels ill… Ten years earlier, these characters were struck by a tragic event. Ghosts revive their memories of the trauma, which occurred in a school; there is a guilty haze, a lost innocence.

Watch a short video introduction to Innocence in French with English subtitles

Aix-en-Provence Festival will also celebrate Saariaho’s music with a chamber music concert that includes works as Sombre and Nymphéa performed by Meta4, Camilla Hoitenga, Daniel Belcher, Eija Kankaanranta, Florent Jodelet and Florentin Ginot. Finally, the orchestral concert on July 14, Stéphane Degout, Beate Mordal and London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Clément Mao-Takacs, will perform Cinq Reflets.

To discover more opera from Saariaho read our overview of her six stage works, including Innocence here.

Browse Wise Music Classical's new interactive booklet, highlighting Saariaho's key works ahead of her 70th birthday in 2022.

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