U.S. Premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Innocence

U.S. Premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Innocence
© Royal Opera House/Tristram Kenton

Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho was a leading voice of her generation whose wide array of innovations in electroacoustic music, orchestration, and musical drama continue to shape the current sonic landscape. From June 1-21 her towering final opera Innocence (with libretto by Sofi Oksanen and Aleksi Barrière) has its US premiere by San Francisco Opera, who commissioned the work together with the Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, Dutch National Opera, Finnish National Opera, and Royal Opera House. Called “a masterpiece” (The Times Literary Supplement), this “most intrepid, disturbing, and supremely crafted opera” (I Care If You Listen) is centered on the aftershocks of a shooting at an international school in Helsinki. Saariaho presents this all-too-relevant story with a characteristic subtlety that is set into relief by Simon Stone’s moving production, which features a revolving set designed by Chloe Lamford. Conductor Clément Mao-Takacs takes the podium to conduct an all-star cast including soprano Lilian Farahani, tenor Miles Mykkanen, and Finnish folk singer Vilma Jää. 

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