Premiere of Veljo Tormis and Rasmus Puur's opera to take place next week

Veiko Tubin and Tõnu Kaljuste.
Veiko Tubin and Tõnu Kaljuste. Source: Anneli Ivaste

The Birgitta Festival, beginning on August 6, will feature the world premiere of Rasmus Puur's completed version of Veljo Tormis' unfinished opera "Lalli, or there is a Man in the Middle of the Sea." The composer Rasmus Puur has finished the opera Tormis started at the request of Tõnu Kaljuste and Nargenfestival.

Veljo Tormis began work on an opera based on Eino Leino's play "Lalli" in 1989. Sakari Puurus, one of Finland's most renowned directors at the time, and his wife, Lea Tormis, collaborated on the libretto. For a variety of reasons, the composer was forced to put his work on hold. Later, he wrote two compositions on the same subject: "Sinikan laulu" (Sinikan laulu) and "The Bishop and the Pagan" (Piispa ja pakana).

Tõnu Kaljuste and the Nargenfestival commissioned Estonian composer Rasmus Puur to complete Tormis' opera.

The two-act opera is set in the "pagan" north during the period of Christianization. Tensions between two worldviews escalate, leading to conflicts that culminate in tragic events.

The opera's creators say that the subject matter is timely and draw parallels with current events.

"Significantly, this July, Pope Francis of Rome begged Canadian indigenous peoples for forgiveness for wrongs committed against them in Catholic Church boarding schools. It is also remarkable that Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow believes Western principles could be resisted by backing the war in Ukraine," Kaljuste said.

Music director and conductor of "Lalli, or there is a Man in the Middle of the Sea" is Tõnu Kaljuste, stage directors are Veiko Tubin and Kristjan Suits. The performers are Koit Soasepp (Lalli, bass; Finnish National Opera), Iris Oja (Kerttu, mezzo-soprano), Maria Listra (Sinikka, soprano), Mati Turi (Tuura, tenor), Heldur Harry Põlda (Inko, tenor; Estonian National Opera), Raul Mikson (Henrik, tenor), and Märt Jakobson (Kaikkivalta, bass).

The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is joined this time by Vox Clamantis, Estonian Cello Ensemble and a percussion ensemble.

The production team also includes lighting designer Emil Kallas, video artist Aljona Movko-Mägi and movement director Ingmar Jõela.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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