Gallery: Rehearsals for Tormis' unfinished opera held at Pirita Monastery

Dress rehearsals for the opera "Lalli, or There is a Man in the Middle of the Sea" by Veljo Tormis and Rasmus Puur began in the ruins of Pirita Monastery in Tallinn this week.

Estonian composer Veljo Tormis had begun working on the opera nearly 30 years ago; it had remained unfinished at the time of his death at age 86 in 2017. The work, which Puur has since completed, will have its world premiere this Saturday.

Tõnu Kaljuste, musical director and conductor of "Lalli, or There is a Man in the Middle of the Sea," said that the opera is about the challenges of smaller nations, which are still pertinent even today.

"The differences between large, dominant nations and smaller nations or peoples have become increasingly tense; this is a work born out of that fear," Kaljuste told ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera." "The story is inspired by an event that took place in Finland in 1130. However, people have hardly changed over the centuries."

Veiko Tubin, stage director of the production, said that the opera's leitmotif is the sea that stands for the ever-changing world around us.

"It is about striving to be oneself in a constantly changing society," Tubin explained. "To adapt to new circumstances — a new generation, a new culture, an invading coronavirus, or war."

This year, Kaljuste is bringing together Finnish and Estonian musicians. The opera will be performed in Finnish, with subtitles in Estonian.

"I am not following the so-called Birgitta Festival tradition; I focus on the works that are inspiring to me," he said.

"Lalli, or There is a Man in the Middle of the Sea" is based on Eino Leino's drama "Lalli," which was revised into libretto form by Sakari Puurus, Lea Tormis and Veljo Tormis, and translated into Estonian by Jouko Vanhanen.

Its world premiere will take place at the Birgitta Festival in Tallinn on August 6 and 7.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa, Aili Vahtla

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