HELSINKI FESTIVAL, FINLANDIA HOUSE 2008 RSO
Black reaches towards the light
Uusi Suomi News/Kimmo Hakola
Kristiina Helin's visualization and direction was thoughtful, but not too cautious. The real-time guided video material worked great underlining the dreamlike memories of the subject. The scene where the prisoner jumps onto bars to pull his chin worked perfectly in terms of timing as his hands hit the first stroke of the beat. Maybe a coincidence, but a great detail that proved that Kristiina Helin wanted to be a musician with musicians.
Sirén Vesa HESA 23.8.2008
“The dead house gave rise to a live opera performance”
“The performance clearly conveyed what was most important to the composer: every human being, even the murderer, has a spark from God.
Everyone is born of a mother and worthy of compassion”.
From the House of Death by Leoš Janáček
ESA-PEKKA SALONEN (conductor)
FINNISH CHAMBER Chorus
FINISH RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
HANS-OTTO EHRSTRÖM ( musical chordinator)
KRISTIINA HELIN (VISUALISATION)
PETRI RUIKKA (video technic)
ESA RUUTTUNEN (Alexander Petrovič Gorjančikov)
ERIC STOKLOSSA (Aljeja)
STEFAN MARGITA (Luka Kuzmiz)
GORDON GIETZ (Skuratov / 1st Guard / Kedril )
GABRIEL SUOVANEN (Šiškov)
HANNU NIEMELÄ (Comandante / Čekunov / 2nd
Guard/ Cook / Father / Don Juan / Brahman / Prisoner)
DAN KARLSTRÖM (Šapkin / čerevin / tall prisoner)
PETRI BÄCKSTRÖM (prisoners)
ANNA DANIK (Prostitute)
Original film by Jouni Hiltunen 2001/Illume
BLATNOI MIR - The Story of the Thieves is a documentary about the mental landscape of three Russian prisoners of life: a journey from one year of life in prison to the ongoing routines and extremes of humanity. To a world from which prisoners have no return.
A living image accompanies the opera
ESA-PEKKA SALONEN has been fascinated of this opera for a long time.
"I think I saw The Dead House for the first time sometime at the age of 15 when Leif Segerstam conducted it, and then when Claudio Abbado did it in Salzburg in 1992. After that, it was clear to me that one day I want to conduct this opera myself," Salonen says.
"It has a completely unique form - it's a non-linear work with no dramatic character. It's just a bunch of people and stories popping to the surface." Salonen will continue his work on the Janácek Opera even after Helsinki and Stockholm. A year later, he will conduct it at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the following year at La Scala in Milan.
The opera About the Dead House will be performed today as a visualized concert version at Finlandia Hall
"In the past, there were silent films accompanied by live musicians. Now we do the opposite: we perform an opera accompanied by a live image." Director Kristiina Helin talks about the opera The Dead House, which will be performed today during the Helsinki Festival.
"The challenge is how to adapt the moving image to E-P's heartbeat," Helin says. "We took on the technical challenge of cutting the film at the same time as the music progresses." Helin takes care of the artistic side, and Petri Ruikka is responsible for the technical implementation. "Until a few years ago, such an implementation would not have been possible. Technology has evolved so that now this can be done," Helin says.
Jouni Hiltunen 's documentary Blatnoi mir - The World of Thieves is used as artwork. The film, completed in 2001, tells the story of five Russian prisoners of life and their customs on an isolated prison island.
The film fits well with the theme of Janácek’s opera, as the libretto is based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s
Memoirs of a Dead House novel. It, in turn, is based on Dostoevsky’s own experiences at a forced labor camp in Siberia in the 1850s.
“When you see the lives of life-sentenced prisoners in today’s Russia from that film, it’s like looking a hundred years back,” Helin says. He also refers to another person in Russian prison camps, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died in early August.
“We will be performing this opera on Saturday at the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm, and we will dedicate the performance to the memory of Solzhenitsyn,” Helin notes.