Kaija Saariaho (1952)

Opera in five acts
Original Finnish libretto by Sofi Oksanen
Multilingual libretto by Aleksi Barriere

World premiere

Conductor Susanna Mälkki
Stage Director Simon Stone
Stage Designer Chloe Lamford
Costume Designer Mel Page
Lighting Designer James Farncombe
Choreography Arvo Renz

Waitress Magdalena Kožená
Mother-in-Law Sandrine Piau
Father-in-Law Tuomas Pursio
Bride Lilian Farahani
Groom Markus Nykänen
Priest Jukka Rasilainen
Teacher Lucy Shelton
Student 1 (Marketa) Vilma Jää
Student 2 (Lilly) Beate Mordal*
Student 3 Julie Hega
Student 4 Simon Kluth
Student 5 (Jeronimo)Camilo Delgado Díaz
Student 6 Marina Dumont

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
London Symphony Orchestra


Commissioned and coproduced by Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, San Francisco Opera, Dutch National Opera, Finnish National Opera and Ballet, Royal Opera House Covent Garden with the generous support of Karolina Blaberg, Jean-Francois Dubos, Claude and Tuulikki Janssen, Ammodo.


"Aren’t you always guilty from the moment you run off?"
Sofi Oksanen: Purge, 2008

It is a typical wedding for a cosmopolitan city, in present-day Finland. The fiancé is Finnish, the bride Romanian, and the mother-in-law French. But suddenly, during the wedding banquet, the Czech waitress feels ill… Ten years earlier, these characters were struck by a tragic event. Ghosts revive their memories of the trauma, which occurred in a school; there is a guilty haze, a lost innocence. Kaija Saariaho’s new opera is the result of a meeting between this great composer and another Finnish artist, the novelist Sofi Oksanen, who is unrivalled in her ability to force today’s reality to confront the past. Innocence—multiplot opera for soloists, chorus and orchestra— is a contemporary tragedy made radiant through its powerful music and the intermingling of words from different languages. With this world premiere, conducted by musical director Susanna Mälkki and staged by the Australian theatre director Simon Stone, the Festival d’Aix writes a new page in the history of opera.


Look more: Festival Aix-en-Provence