Saturday, August 31, 2019

Ice


Music Jaakko Kuusisto
Text Juhani Koivisto
Conductor Jaakko Kuusisto
Director Anna Kelo

Petter Kummel, priest: Ville Rusanen
Mona Kummel, his wife: Marjukka Tepponen
Sanna Kummel, his child: Sointu Wessmann
Anton, postal boatman:  Markus Groth
Sacristan: Jussi Merikanto
Irina Gyllen: Jenny Carlstedt
Adele Bergman Jenni Lättilä
Elis Bergman Pekka Kuivalainen
Artur Manström Hannu Niemelä
Lydia Manström Tiina Penttinen

Kuusisto's Ice is testing the theory that anything might be an opera.   It is by a Finnish composer, presented by the Finnish National Opera, is based on a Finnish book and is sung and also spoken in Finnish.  Nothing in Finnish sounds even remotely familiar to me.

We follow the ice through the seasons.  In winter it connects the two islands in the story.   The ice shapes their lives.  The mail boatman tells us of mystical beings that guide you over unsafe patches where the ice is thin.  The boatman is a speaking role, and the mystical beings that surround him are the ballet.

The story concerns a new priest, Petter Kummel, who arrives with his wife and child.  They exclaim over how beautiful it is.  Everyone warns them to beware of the danger in the ice.  He wants to cross the ice, the spirit creatures warn against it, but he pays no heed and dies.  He joins the other spirit creatures.

The music is filled up with homophonic chorus who sing "Shall we gather at the river?" in Finnish.  It all sounds just a bit like the other Finnish composer Saariaho with the mixture of orchestral and electronic sounds.

It is the production that makes this work.  It's a masterpiece.  I'm glad I watched this.  It's going away very soon.

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