Swedish premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s opera about motherhood, darkness and hope
Polar Music Prize winner Kaija Saariaho is one of the most recognized composers of our time. Now she gets her Swedish premiere at Norrlandsoperan with her unique opera Adriana Mater.
The opera Adriana Mater shows why Kaija Saariaho is one of our most interesting and imaginative contemporary composers. The stunningly poetic libretto tells about what the horrors of war affects us. The music is wonderful and brutal, and the story’s reflections on motherhood, darkness, revenge and hope leaves no one unmoved.
Kaija Saariaho was awarded the Polar Music Prize in 2013. She is one of the most celebrated composers of our time and her music has been described as ”a distinctive beauty, inspired by dreamlike states, myths and dark mysteries”. Adriana Mater is Saariaho’s second opera, with a libretto in French by the renowned Lebanese author Amin Maalouf.
The chamber drama between the four roles is performed by Emma Sventelius, Hege Gustava Tjønn, Jonah Spungin and Joshua Owen Mills as well as a gigantic orchestra – Norrlandsoperan’s symphony orchestra in a bigger costume. All under the direction of Norrlandsoperan’s first guest conductor Ville Matvejeff and directed by Dan Turdén.
The opera is set in a diffuse present time, during a civil war in an unnamed country. Then and there the young Adriana is raped by the same age Tsargo, a local militia soldier. She becomes pregnant and despite her sister Refka’s advice, Adriana chooses to keep the child. But the decision is colored by the central question Adriana asks herself: ”Will my child become a Cain or an Abel?”
17 years go by and the civil war now affects society in a more indirect way, like a dark shadow, neither forgiven nor forgotten. Adriana’s son Yonas has grown into a young man in a life without knowing the true story of his father. When he finds out that he is the product of a rape and that his father is a war criminal, his reality is shattered. Adriana can now only watch worriedly as Yonas seems to grow as violent as his father. But despite a terrible story, Adriana Mater still ends in light and with hope for reconciliation.