7-22 Oct 2023


Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage

Running time

1:45, no interval


From € 18


Psychological thriller on the opera stage

The new opera Innocence recounts a topical tale of guilt, forgiveness and being haunted for life by traumatic events. Dutch National Opera presents the latest work by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, one of the most frequently performed contemporary composers in the world. The libretto is by compatriot and bestselling author Sofi Oksanen and dramaturg Aleksi Barrière, a specialist of new music theatre and multilingual dramaturgy.

Set from the opera Innocence | © Jean Louis Ferdinandez

Who is free of guilt?

A mass shooting takes place at an international school. Ten years later, the shooter’s younger brother gets married and hopes to put this history behind him for good. However, the wedding turns into a confrontation with the past. Traumas that had been suppressed by all the individuals involved resurface, and the distinction between perpetrator and victim becomes increasingly blurred.

The world premiere of Innocence was in 2021 at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, where the opera was highly praised by critics. With the force of a psychological thriller, it shows the far-reaching effects of violence, while Kaija Saariaho’s music reverberates more than ever before with the sounds of raw realism.


The makers

The Australian theatre, film and opera director Simon Stone, who caused a stir in the Netherlands with his impressive theatrical productions at the Holland Festival and ITA (Flight 49, Medea and Ibsen House), will be making his debut at Dutch National Opera with his staging of Saariaho’s latest work. After Émilie (2010) and Only the Sound Remains (2016), Innocence is Saariaho’s third work to be performed by Dutch National Opera.

The Swiss-Australian conductor Elena Schwarz, an ardent advocate of new music, makes her DNO-debut with Innocence. Four audience favourites – Dutch singers Lilian Farahani, Lenneke Ruiten, Frederik Bergman and Thomas Oliemans – will also be starring in this opera.

Performance information

Opera in five acts and an epilogue
The main singing language is English, and additional languages are Finnish, Czech, French, Romanian, Swedish, German, Spanish and Greek

Libretto  Sofi Oksanen (original Finnish) & Aleksi Barrière (dramaturgy & multilingual version)

Musical direction  Elena Schwarz
Stage direction and dramaturgy  Simon Stone
Set design  Chloe Lamford
Costume design  Mel Page
Lighting design  James Farncombe
Choreography  Arco Renz

The Waitress (Tereza)  Jenny Carlstedt
The Mother-in-Law (Patricia)  Lenneke Ruiten
The Father-in-Law (Henrik)  Thomas Oliemans
The Bride (Stela)  Lilian Farahani
The Bridegroom (Tuomas)  Markus Nykänen
The Priest  Frederik Bergman
The Teacher  Lucy Shelton
Markéta (student 1)  Vilma Jää
Lily (student 2)  My Johansson
Iris (student 3)  Julie Hega
Anton (student 4) Rowan Kievits
Jerónimo (student 5)  Camilo Delgado Díaz
Alexia (student 6)  Olga Heikkilä

Chorus of Dutch National Opera
Chorus Master  Edward Ananian-Cooper

Residentie Orkest The Hague

Composition commission and co-production  by Dutch National Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Royal Opera House (London), Finnish National Opera and Ballet (Helsinki) and San Francisco Opera

In collaboration with The Metropolitan Opera (New York)

5 reasons to look forward to Innocence

Ticket prices

Check out the ticket prices per price category via the link below. Youths up to 35 can attend this performance for only € 25,00 (including booking fee), regardless of which price category is ordered.

Ticket prices

We offer discounts for specific groups in order to make our performances accessible to everyone. Check this page to see if you are eligible for a discount.

Standard CJP | City Pass Youths up to 35
1st € 138,00 € 124,00 € 23,00
2nd € 106,00  € 92,00 € 23,00
3rd € 85,00 € 71,00 € 23,00
4th € 64,00 € 53,00 € 23,00
5th € 45,00 € 38,00 € 23,00
6th € 22,00 € 18,00 € 23,00

Dutch National Opera & Ballet works with a system of dynamic pricing: during the booking period the ticket prices may increase, depending on demand. Prices exclude € 2,00 booking fee per ticket.

Student discount and student alert
Students can take advantage of discounted tickets for performances at Dutch National Opera & Ballet. From 13.00 on the day of the performance, if it is not sold out, you can buy a ticket online for only € 19 (including booking fee). Have your valid student ID card or proof of enrolment ready to show at the door.

For some performances, we are already giving students the opportunity to book with student discounts. Want to stay up to date with our student offers? Sign up for the student alert and receive the latest news about offers in your mailbox.

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Innocence - Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes bij Innocence
Innocence scènebeeld

Operatic psychological thriller about the repercussions of a school shooting

Thomas Oliemans
Photo: Marco Borggreve

Lilian Farahani and Thomas Oliemans about Innocence

Scenes from Innocence by Finnish National Opera (2022) | Photo: Ilkka Saastamoinen
Scene in the school
Foto: Ilkka Saastamoinen
Scene in the classroom
Photo: Ilkka Saastamoinen
Photo: Ilkka Saastamoinen
The shooting
Photo: Ilkka Saastamoinen
The shooting
Photo: Ilkka Saastamoinen
in de media
19 April

"This is a truly great opera for our troubled times ... What composer Kaija Saariaho, with her librettist Sof Oksanen and dramaturg Aleksi Barrière, has done in Innocence (premiered at Aix-en-Provence in 2021, now making its Covent Garden debut) is to create a searing and subtle story of grief and guilt"

22 April

"Saariaho’s work, powerful as it is, lacks that glimmer of a smile, those tears of laughter which heighten tragedy. As far as it goes, it offers thoughtful, disturbing rewards. This staging has no weak links."

9 July

Saariaho wrote insanely good music to accompany it, and gave a lead role to Vilma Jää, a Finnish folklore singer who as the late Markéta deploys her voice sharply, high and precisely, sending shivers down the spine.

5 July

"Innocence is yet another contemporary opera that shows every minute how alive the genre is, and how opera, in particular, can put (current) themes under an emotional magnifying glass."

19 April

Right from the opening beats, you can feel the dark, growling tension. ... Yet thanks to her good focus, her [Farahani] voice carries just fine and we hear every detail of her performance. ... In Amsterdam, she [Farahani] will repeat the role of The Bride in the coming season at Dutch National Opera, but I hope to see and hear her in larger roles as well because she is a singer who has a lot of beauty to offer. 

Thomas Oliemans in the foreground during rehearsal Innocence
Rehearsals Innocence - Dutch National Opera (2023) | Photos: Ben van Duin
Rehearsal Innocence
A fight between students - Rehearsal Innocence
The happy bride and groom with champagne and flowers
Contained anger students - rehearsal Innocence
An older woman addresses the youngsters - rehearsal Innocence
Residentie Orkest The Hague

Residentie Orkest The Hague

Residentie Orkest The Hague was founded over a century ago and is one of the major acclaimed symphony orchestras  in the Netherlands. The innovative orchestra, led by chief  conductor Anja Bihlmaier, plays at leading venues in the Netherlands and abroad. Recent productions at Dutch National Opera involving the Residentie Orkest are Nabucco, Denis & Katya and Blue. This season, the orchestra will  accompany the opera Innocence.

Read more
Gevaar dreigt achter elke deur

Operatic psychological thriller about the repercussions of a school shooting

Read more
Kaija Saariaho

Kaija Saariaho: An opera composer who thought she was not suited to opera

Read more

Nominee of the FEDORA Opera Prize 2021 with the support of Generali & Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union

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