This month, Susanna Mälkki conducts the UK premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Innocence at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, marking her debut with the company. She also led the world premiere of the piece at Festival Aix-en-Provence in 2021 which received great acclaim, prompting The New York Times to write: “This is undoubtedly the work of a mature master, in such full command of her resources that she can focus simply on telling a story and illuminating characters. Unlike so many contemporary operas, “Innocence” — featuring the mighty London Symphony Orchestra, conducted with sensitivity and control by Susanna Mälkki — doesn’t feel like a sung play with a more or less disconnected, elaborately self-regarding orchestral soundtrack.”
Simon Stone’s cinematic production of the psychological thriller draws focus to the individual stories of each traumatized character reckoning with their pasts. The superb cast includes Jenny Carlstedt as The Waitress, Sandrine Piau as The Mother-in-Law, Christopher Purves as The Father-in-law, Lilian Farahani as The Bride, Markus Nykanen as The Bridegroom, Timo Riihonen as The Priest and Lucy Shelton as The Teacher, Vilma Jää as Student One, Beate Mordal as Student Two, Julie Hega as Student Three, Simon Kluth as Student Four, Camilo Delgado Díaz as Student Five, and Marina Dumont as Student Six. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House brings Saariaho’s deeply colorful soundscape to life.
Performances are on April 17, 20, 26, May 1, and 4.