• 3(II=pic:III=afl).3.3(bcl).2(cbn) / hp.pf(cel) /str/electronics (see below for details)
  • SATB
  • Mezzo soprano, Soprano, Tenor, Bass Baritone
  • 2 hr
  • Amin Maalouf
  • French
    • 2nd August 2024, Olavinlinna Castle, Savonlinna, Finland
    • 4th August 2024, Olavinlinna Castle, Savonlinna, Finland
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Programme Note

The setting is a country at war in the present day. Adriana is raped by Tsargo, a man from her local community, and falls pregnant. She has a son – Yonas – and brings him up, tormented by whether his behaviour will be determined by the blood of his rapist father, or by herself – his innocent mother. When Yonas learns the truth of his conception he vows to kill his father. The moment of truth comes when Tsargo eventually returns to town at the end of the war.

The time is the present, in a country about to be at war. Tsargo, a young drunk man attempts to speak with the young woman Adriana. He reminds her that they once danced together but she rebuffs him. Adriana’s sister, Refka, sees all of this and reproaches Adriana for even speaking to him. A dream sequence begins as night falls, where Tsargo is ready to go dancing with Adriana. Adriana touches Tsargo and he turns into a bottle, which she drops and breaks. Adriana wakes in the dream and in reality, and a humiliated Tsargo rushes off uttering threats. In the next scene Tsargo, dressed as a soldier and carrying a gun knocks on Adriana’s door, claiming to need to go onto the roof to see the enemy. She snubs him as before. He then forces his way in, and we deduce that Adriana is raped. In Scene 3 Adriana is pregnant and argues with her sister, who condemns her for having the child. The night befoFre Refka had dreamt of her own worries about the unborn child, and also of Adriana’s own fears – will the child resemble Cain or Abel?

Seventeen years later, Adriana’s son Yonas finds out that his father did not in fact die heroically as he had been told by his family. He is furious and Adriana tries to explain that she would have told him when he was old enough to deal with the truth. This does not hold back his anger, and he swears to kill his rapist father. Another dream sequence ensues where Yonas kills his whole family, finally turning his weapon on himself. In the next scene, Refka looks for Adriana, but finds Yonas instead. He chastises her for having lied to him about his father. When Adriana enters Refka tells them that Tsargo is in the country. With this, Yonas charges off vowing to kill him. Refka wants to stop him but Adriana says “If he is meant to kill him, then he will kill him”. Yonas soon finds Tsargo, who admits his identity and what he has done. Yonas tells him that he intends to kill him, but asks to see him turn around. It is soon obvious that Tsargo is blind, and with this Yonas flees unable to carry out his task.

In the final scene all four characters are separate on stage, consumed with their own troubles. Yonas asks for forgiveness from his mother for not having killed his father. At this point Adriana knows that Yonas is her son, because he has not killed, like his father did. “We are not avenged” she tells her son, “but we are saved”.


Full score Act I
Full score Act II
Vocal score Act I
Vocal score Act II


  • Kaija Saariaho’s Poetic Montages
    • Kaija Saariaho’s Poetic Montages
    • From the very beginning of her career as a composer, Kaija Saariaho has turned to poetry as a material and inspiration for her music. The forms and logics of poetry have played a defining role in her output since then.


More Info

  • Kaija Saariaho Memorial Concert
    • Kaija Saariaho Memorial Concert
    • 11th July 2023
    • Savonlinna Opera Festival pays tribute to Kaija Saariaho with a memorial concert of her vocal and chamber works.