Sat 2.9.2023 at 21:00
Benjamin Britten: Curlew River opera

Tickets € 55 / 45 / 15 
Pensioners, unemployed and conscripts €52 / 42 /15 
Students and children under 18 €15 
+ booking fee (from €1,50 / booking, 

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Thu 31 August 2023 at 9 pm.
Sat 2 September 2023 at 9 pm.
Espoo Cathedral

Tuomas Katajala, tenor (Crazy Woman)
Arttu Kataja, baritone (Lautturi)
Aarne Pelkonen, baritone (Matkamies)
Matti Turunen, bass (Apotti)
Onerva Merikanto, vocals & Otava Merikanto (Spirit of the boy) 

Martti Anttila
Jarno Lehtola
Joonas-Ville Hietaniemi
Juhani Vesikkala
Greggory Haueter
Janne Helekorpi
Antti Villberg
Riku Laurikka

Antti Tikkanen, viola and music direction
Kaisa Kortelainen, flute
Tuomo Matero, double bass
Erno Toikka, french horn
Heikki Parviainen, percussions
Katri Tikka, harp
Petteri Pitko, organ

Direction: Aleksi Barrière
Lights: Étienne Exbrayat
Video: Lucia Schmidt
Set design and costumes: Aleksi Barrière & Étienne Exbrayat 

The summer of the Organ Night and Aria Festival culminates in opera! Benjamin Britten’s church-opera Curlew River (1964) is a touching work about a mother looking for her son. To paraphrase the Japanese Noh-play, Britten composed the work as a church-appropriate church parabola, in which a story from hundreds of years ago comes to life performed by a magnificent group of soloists, a choir and a group of instruments. The director is the visionary Aleksi Barrière, who is also in charge of the visuality with his French artist collective.

Curlew River opera tells a story of loss and grief, for the “fallen, lost, the least”. A group of people reflecting society, gather in a church to present a parabola about a mother who has lost her sanity and searches around the country for her missing son. Her wanderings lead the mother to the banks of Curlew River – where she finds her son’s tomb, which has become a local shrine. A society that has mocked a mother as crazy, is tasked with learning to understand and guide her in her pain. 

Benjamin Britten lived outside the faith of the Church and its rituals, but composed many operas and choral works to be performed especially in churches. Curlew River is based on a Japanese Noh-play called Sumidagawa, from which he made a ‘translation’ into a medieval church parabola. Interculturality inspired Britten to develop a new form of musical theatre. In addition, Britten was fascinated by the depiction and realization of collective experience through music and choral form. Human nature also involves rejection and destruction, but in mere contact with each other, we can live as human beings. This radical core of Britten’s original spirituality was meditated on in one performance of the Curlew River opera. Come and experience this harsh but theatrical ritual that glows like a stained-glass window! 

Duration 1 h 15 min, no intermission. 

Espoo Cathedral
Kirkkopuisto 5, Espoo


Concert in 31st of August in Espoo Cathedral + Dinner in Backby Manson -package:

Organ Night and Aria Festival and Backby Manor organize mesmerizing dinner and concert evenings in the summer in Espoo. Come and enjoy the tasty dinner menu and a wonderful concert during an unforgettable evening!

Dinner & concert -package includes:
Changing dinner menu at Backby Manor at 6 pm.
Organ Night and Aaria Festival concert at Espoo Cathedral at 9 pm.
Total price of the package: 120 € / person

Read more and make a reservation: Dinner+Concert -package


Benjamin Britten (1913–1976): Curlew River Op. 71