7-22 Oct 2023
Dutch National Opera & Ballet, Main Stage
1:45, no interval
Psychological thriller on the opera stage
The new opera Innocence delves into the aftermath of a school shooting. 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.
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
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)
Along with the printed programme book, we also offer online programme information for this performance. The online programme will take you behind the scenes with in-depth stories, articles, and interviews with the creators and cast.
5 reasons to look forward to Innocence
Psychologische operathriller over de nasleep van een ‘school shooting’
Lilian Farahani and Thomas Oliemans about Innocence
With Innocence, the opera has a contemporary masterpiece that will resonate in the ears and heart for a long time.
Everything comes together in the horribly beautiful 'Innocence': staging, score, word craftsmanship, the fine cast [...] In Kaija Saariaho's last opera, throbbing pain trembles next to fragile beauty - with crushing effect.
Innocence by Kaija Saariaho is beautiful, haunting and ultimately moving. [...] Innocence is an opera like no other, a masterpiece in every sense. [...] Heartbreaking
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.
"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"
"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."
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.
"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."
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.