Opera Review | The opera Armi Ratiasta brings Ilmajoki’s music festival to modern times

Composer Eeva Kontu writes flowing, colorful and dramaturgically timely music.

Armi – a portrait of a strong woman. Stand-up performance at the Ilmajoki music festival. Composition by Eeva Kontu, libretto and direction by Heta Haanperä.

At the Ilmajoki music festival we have traditionally seen operas about famous men of our history, which alternately raise Finnish national feeling, alternately raise the spirit of the Ostrobothnia province, and mostly draw from the distant past. This year is different: Eeva Konnun composed by Armi – a portrait of a strong woman is, as the name suggests, a story about a remarkable Finnish woman, Armi from Ratiawhose creative heritage, Marimekko products, still live on in the everyday life and celebrations of many Finns.

The idea of ​​an opera about Armi Ratia had originally died over a year ago Jaakko Kuusiston, who, however, did not have time to compose the piece. Choosing Konnu for this task proved to be an excellent solution.

Homestead writes flowing, colorful and dramaturgically timely music, where there is room for arias of great emotions and where the climaxes are thrilling – exactly as opera should be.

Kontu skilfully takes into account the voice type and personality of his soloists. The role of Armi is a composed mezzo-soprano Lilli Paasikivelle, who had already finished his singing career. Fortunately, this decision didn’t work, because the role of the grown-up Armi turned out to be one of Paasikivi’s best. His stage charisma was so strong that it held the audience in its grip even in the episodes where he is not singing.

Armi-opera is above all a work of strong female characters.

Young Armin in the role, you could hear someone with a stagey, sparkling voice Minna-Leena from Lahtea, whose soprano is starting to be ready for bigger stages. He also did an impressive role Vuokko Nurmesniemena also prone to coloratura soprano Maid Komsi, whose technical virtuosity came into its own here. As a child, Armina performed sweetly Kerttu Kurjenluoma.

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Also other soloists, such as baritone Aarne Pelkonen In the role of Ratia’s spouse or tenor Tuomas Miettola in their various changing roles, succeeded convincingly, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this opera is above all a work of strong female characters.

Scar-opera’s orchestra, the Seinäjoki City Orchestra, was led by a conductor Kaapo Ijas.

Lilli Paasikivi singing the role of Armi Marimekko in the middle and Piia Komsi singing the role of Vuokko Nurmesniemi on the right.

Musically Scar is perhaps the best I’ve heard on Ilmajoki, and there are no complaints about the visual side either. Juho Lindström has staged the outdoor stage of the party in a modern way and shamelessly uses symbolism referring to Marimekko. The fresh stage image is made up of the large letters Armi and a brilliant weave in the colors of the rainbow, which can be changed to different iconic fabrics as needed.

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The fabrics are anyway the most central element of the set. Also director-librettist Heta Haanperä relies on fabrics, from which a large-scale striped pattern is often built in the hands of the choir. Leena Rintalan the designed suits sometimes also refer to Marimekko.

Choreographer Osku Heiskanen the fast dance scenes were smoothly integrated into the rest of the choir’s activities, and the roles also change rapidly. The show does not lack momentum. The children’s choir performs wonderfully, as always. A small compositional blunder occurs in that an unaccompanied a cappella set has been written for an adult choir, which turned out to be too difficult for enthusiasts. If the piece is performed next summer, it’s easy to fix it by orchestrating something to support the choir.

In the libretto facts, gossip, and public secrets interwoven. At least we saw each other on stage Kekkonen, Tarmo Manni, Jörn Donner and maybe also Ella Eronenand it’s a good thing, because without them the work might have gotten bogged down in excessive pathos.

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Scar-opera Ilmajoki Musiikkijuhlat has arrived in modern times. I hope for many performances of the opera, also arranged outside of Ilka’s field.

In the roles Lilli Paasikivi, Minna-Leena Lahti, Aarne Pelkonen, Mari Palo, Piia Komsi, Jeni Packalén, Tuomas Lehtinen, Tuomas Miettola, Nicholas Söderlund, Mila Kujala, Kerttu Kurjenluoma. Seinäjoki City Orchestra, Ilmajoki Opera Choir, Opera Children’s and Youth Choir.

Correction 9.6. at 1:23 p.m.: Contrary to what was first written in the review, Kerttu Kurjenluoma, not Mila Kujala, played the role of Lapsi-Armi in the premiere. In the performance information, librettist-director Heta Haanperä’s last name was also incorrectly written as Haanpää.

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