Opera Scotland

Maiden in the Tower The Maiden in the Tower; Jungfrun i tornet

Music

Jean Sibelius (born Hämeenlinna, 8 December 1865; Järvenpää, 20 September 1957)

Text

Rafael Hertzberg

Source

Original

 

Premieres

First performance: Helsinki, 9 November 1896 (concert).

First staged performance: Joensuu, 5 December 1990.

First performance in UK: Manchester (Bridgewater Hall), 17 March 2001 (concert).

First staged performance in the UK: Buxton (Opera House), 9 July 2012.

First performance in Scotland: N/A.

Scottish Opera premiere: N/A.

 

Background

Sibelius was a hugely talented composer of vocal music, with a number of wonderful songs to his credit, many being settings of Swedish verse, that being the language he spoke first, before he became such a fervent Finn. Even after he began to compose to Finnish texts, he produced wonderfully dramatic work for voices, including the choral symphony Kullervo and the tone poem Luonnotar. In those years, he was also interested in the idea of composing operas. He made a start on a grand Wagnerian work, The Building of the Boat, but abandoned it long before completion. The Maiden in the Tower is a far less ambitious piece, using a small orchestra and lasting barely three-quarters of an hour. Unfortunately, it is no great undiscovered masterpiece, but it contains some effective music nonetheless. Sibelius withdrew it after the first run through, and it was not heard again in his lifetime.

This opera had not been staged in Britain before the Buxton attempt in 2012. The pairing with Rimsky's only slightly later one-acter, Kashchey the Immortal, is an interesting idea, given that the thin plotline and anonymous characterisation of the Sibelius - maiden held captive and needing to be rescued - is given a bit more flesh in the exotic Russian work.

 

Characters

Maiden (soprano)

Lady of the Castle (mezzo-soprano)

Bailiff (baritone)

Lover (tenor)

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