TOURING PRODUCTIONS

BABY JANE

Baby Jane is Opera Skaala’s latest production which had its premiere in October 2019 in Helsinki. The story is based on the novel of the same name by Sofi Oksanen (1977-), internationally one of the most awarded contemporary authors in Finland. The work is a modern depiction of a love affair between two women, colored by the painful themes of mental health problems and exclusion in society.

The relationship of the young, innocent Girl and the experienced, charismatic Piki rapidly moves from their first encounter in the nightlife of the city towards a deep commitment and dreams of a shared future. As each discovers the hidden secrets of the other, the women’s relationship accelerates into a volatile power struggle that permanently seals the fates of both. Sofi Oksanen’s intelligent narrative, full of human warmth, colours the story with deft comedy.

Baby Jane was widely praised by both the audience and the critics right after its premiere. It was appreciated of its open way to speak about the sexual minority rights, alcoholism and codependence in a relationship in a modern and unusual way in operatic narrative. Baby Jane was also nominated the autumn’s opera happening by the main newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, in Finland.

The composer of the opera is Markus Kärki, acclaimed for his film and game music. Kärki’s symphonic and impressionistic musical language creates a striking framework for the tense, twisting psychological spiral of the plot.

The opera utilizes modern technology also in its visuality. The set design is minimalistic consisting only a set of stairs and up-right plates in the background which work as a surface for the projections. The only set design element is a bathtub in the middle of the stage.

For all the technology Baby Jane uses in its realisation, it is very light production to tour with. It requires basically 5 technicians (light & sound engineers and 3 stage managers) to build up, run and unload the performance. In the cast there are three roles. In the live performance the performers are accompanied by a stereo backing track containing the orchestra parts. The singers wear headset microphones as well as in-ear monitors.

The leading roles of the opera are played by soprano Tuuli Lindeberg and mezzo-soprano Essi Luttinen, who are among the most talented and versatile artists in Finnish vocal music. The third role is the ominous ex-girlfriend Bossa, which is played with intencity and expression both vocally and with her stage presence by soprano Laura Heinonen.

The opera’s artistic team consists of the well- established experts of Opera Skaala, an independent opera company focusing on contemporary opera and new performing concepts in the art of opera. The work is directed by Janne Lehmusvuo, with a libretto by Essi Luttinen and Janne Lehmusvuo, and costum design by Tyra Therman.

Composer: Markus Kärki
Libretto: Essi Luttinen & Janne Lehmusvuo
based on the novel Baby Jane by Sofi Oksanen
Director: Janne Lehmusvuo
Costumes: Tyra Therman
Lighting designer: Harri Peltonen
Sound designer: Sakari Kiiski
Production: Ooppera Skaala
Photos: Kari Hakli

The cast
Girl: mezzosoprano Essi Luttinen
Piki: soprano Tuuli Lindeberg
Bossa: soprano Laura Heinonen

TRAILER OF BABY JANE

Detailed technical rider and libretto available upon request.

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TURING MACHINE

Opera Skaala’s Turing Machine (2008) weaves together soaring, emotionally charged vocal lines with atmospheric ambient soundscapes and sampled electronic rhythms. The intimate and intense opera for two singers and one dancer is set off by stunning 3D graphics – a visual element ultimately based on the innovations of Alan Turing himself.

Turing Machine is a multimedia opera composed by Eeppi Ursin and Visa OscarAlan Turing (1912–1954) was a British mathematician and computer science pioneer whose contribution to breaking the German Enigma cipher helped turn the course of World War II.

Though Turing spent his life at the forefront of technological innovation, his true goal was the scientific understanding of the mind. He was also a modest and unpretentious man trying to live in a society that criminalized his sexual orientation, ultimately driving him to suicide. Turing’s death in 1954 remains one of the many enigmas in an astonishing life story.

Libretto: Taina Seitovirta, based on the play Turing by Miko Jaakkola and Jussi Lehtonen
Composers: Eeppi Ursin and Visa Oscar
Director: Janne Lehmusvuo
Choreography: Thomas Freundlich, based on original material by Antti Nieminen (2008)
Digital graphics and projections: Merja Nieminen

Lighting design: Harri Peltonen
Sound engineering: Santtu Sipilä
Costumes: Tyra Therman

Tenor: Juha Hostikka
Soprano: Mia Heikkinen
Dancer: Thomas Freundlich
Vocals, vocoder: Eeppi Ursin
Programming, keyboards: Visa Oscar

Duration: 60 minutes (no intermission)
Language: English

Turing Machine -trailer

Turing Machine Opera part 1/4
Turing Machine Opera part 2/4
Turing Machine Opera part 3/4
Turing Machine Opera part 4/4

Premiere March 28th, 2008 at Korjaamo, Helsinki in collaboration with Crucible Studio, UIAH Helsinki

Other performances in Vilnius, Lithuania at the New Opera Action festival (2009), in Manchester, UK at the International Congress for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (2013), in Turku, Finland at the Turku Chamber Opera Festival (2013) and in Helsinki, Finland (pop-up opera in 2013).

Detailed technical rider and libretto available upon request.

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GREAT CONSPIRACY – The Opera

Things are not always what they seem… or are they?

Opera Skaala’s production Great Conspiracy is a multimedia opera that dives into the shadowy border between the paranoid and the absurd. Is the truth really out there?

Composed by Visa Oscar & Eeppi Ursin
Libretto: Arto Koskinen
Director: Janne Lehmusvuo
Visual design: Janne Lehmusvuo and Thomas Freundlich
Light design: Jukka Huitila
Sound design: Santtu Sipilä
Choreography: Thomas Freundlich
Costume design: Tyra Therman
Make-up: Heidi Kjellman

tenor Petri Bäckström
dancer Thomas Freundlich
soprano Laura Heinonen
mezzosoprano Essi Luttinen
baritone Riku Pelo

Photos by Alejandro Lorenzo

Premiere May 4th 2011 at Korjaamo Culture Factory, Helsinki

Detailed technical rider available upon request

Production research has been done together with Aalto University Departments of Media (Crucible Studio: Jaakko Pesonen, Teemu Korpilahti, Mika ‘Lumi’ Tuomola) and Media Technology (Roberto Pugliese, Tuukka Takala, Tapio Takala), funded by Aalto Media Factory. The performance includes video inserts produced by the Crucible Studio.

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A MADRIGAL OPERA – Cameo. A Symphonic Poem

Opera Skaala’s 2009 production brought together Philip Glass’ rarely performed chamber work A Madrigal Opera and poet Lauri Otonkoski’s symphonic poem Cameo. The themes of the work include searching for and finding oneself, traveling, as well as curiosity, fear and greed. What does it mean to be adrift in the midst of life?

”All people are islands.
 Only the ocean blessed alone.”

Accept the journey, let your thoughts wander; the answer may not be at the long awaited destination, but in the waiting; the trip itself. When land is found at last, it no longer feels important. Helsinki Skaala Opera’s A Madrigal Opera is a hypnotic musical and theatrical experience for six singers, two musicians and two dancers.

Skaala is also the first company to record A Madrigal Opera. To preview and purchase the critically acclaimed 2009 recording, click here.

Music: Philip Glass
Text: Lauri Otonkoski
Direction: Janne Lehmusvuo
Music direction: Jari Hiekkapelto
Director’s assistant: Benita Laakso
Lighting design: Harri Peltonen
Sound design: Timo Muurinen
Choreography: Thomas Freundlich
Costumes: Tyra Therman
Make-up: Kukka Silius

Petri Bäckström, tenor
Essi Luttinen, mezzo-soprano
Vikke Häkkinen, baritone
Laura Heinonen, soprano
Satu Jaatinen, mezzo-soprano
Riku Pelo, bass

Max Savikangas, viola
Linda Hedlund, violin

Thomas Freundlich, dancer
Tanja Kuisma, dancer

Duration 60 minutes

Premiere April 21st, 2009 at Astoria hall, Helsinki, Finland

Detailed technical rider available on request

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FITNESS – LIGHT OPERA

Do you watch your weight? Is there room in this world for you as you are? A modern opera composed in the Baroque style of Rameau, Opera Skaala’s Fitness is a satirical story that touches on burlesque elements, yet paints a genuine picture of longing in an image-conscious world.

Eighteen-year-old Leo is mortified to discover that twenty excess kilos are no advantage in trying to form a romantic attachment. Slimming is far from easy when your mates are all stuffing themselves with pizzas and hamburgers. Fitness is about a hunger for love and the junk food devoured in an attempt to satisfy it. The opera serves as a reminder that people have the right to be loved and accepted just as they are, and that the ongoing striving for perfection first objectifies the individual, who then objectifies everyone else.

The musical style of Fitness was inspired by the operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau. The vocal scenes – arias, duos, trios, other ensemble and choral numbers – are marked off in the manner of the French Baroque by orchestral preludes, interludes and postludes, dance and “ritual” scenes, dreams, etc.

A versatile musician, composer Kirmo Lintinen ranges far and wide in both jazz and concert music. His studies included both classical piano and jazz at the Sibelius Academy, and his compositions have varied from the children’s opera Voi vietävä! (Nuts about Nosh, 2001) to works for big band and from chamber music to jazz. In 2003 he was awarded the prestigious Yrjö (Georgie) Award of the Finnish Jazz Federation.

Composer Kirmo Lintinen
Libretto Veli-Pekka Hänninen
Conductor Jari Hiekkapelto
Direction and stage design Janne Lehmusvuo
Costume design Tyra Therman

Featuring
Leo: Petri Bäckström
Barbi: Mari Palo
Tero: Riku Pelo
Minttu: Essi Luttinen
Mom: Laura Heinonen
Dad: Sören Lillkung
Milla: Riikka Sirèn

Choir & Baroque orchestra

Premiered in Helsinki, 2007
Performed in Finnish with English or Swedish subtitles

Detailed technical rider available upon request

Photo: Jussi Aalto