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Total duration 2 h 30 min
1 performance
On the road
Stockholm, Berwaldhallen
Performed in swedish

Baltic Sea Festival to showcase concert version of acclaimed opera

Höstsonaten – Autumn Sonata is the meeting of a story by cinema legend Ingmar Bergman and the music of Sebastian Fagerlund, one of the most highly acclaimed Finnish composers of his generation. The opera, which drew sell-out audiences to the Finnish National Opera in the 2017–2018 season, will be performed as a concert version at the Baltic Sea Festival in Sweden next August.

The role of Charlotte has been specifically composed for Anne Sofie von Otter, one of today’s most highly renowned mezzo-sopranos. Von Otter will be seen in the lead role of Höstsonaten – Autumn Sonata at the Baltic Sea Festival, too. The cast will also feature Erika Sunnegårdh (Eva), Tommi Hakala (Viktor), Helena Juntunen (Helena) and Nicholas Söderlund (Leonardo). The Orchestra and Chorus of the FNO will be conducted by Dalia Stasevska.

Tickets to the concert are available through the Baltic Sea Festival.

Höstsonaten; Anne Sofie von Otter

”It’s a story that will always be relevant – about people’s selfishness, their need to be seen, and finally, forgiveness.”

– Sebastian Fagerlund, Helsingin Sanomat 4.9.2017

#höstsonaten #autumnsonata

Sebastian Fagerlund; Höstsonaten; Syyssonaatti

”Höstsonaten – Autumn Sonata is a multilayered and powerful relationship drama. Its protagonists meet up in the dark hours of the night and end up having to question the choices they’ve made and their consequences. Underlying the drama, we have the eternal themes of forgiveness and the ability to accept other people as they are. Even as I was starting out the work, I felt as if the story and its characters were waiting for me somewhere in the depths of my mind. The tidal surges of the opera’s music still have an unusual pull on me.”

– composer Sebastian Fagerlund

From a film into an opera: as told by librettist Gunilla Hemming

The powerful libretto, written by Gunilla Hemming and based on Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name, is about the choices we must make, the hidden conflicts of a family, and the possibility of forgiveness.

Watch the full opera on Stage24

Höstsonaten - Syyssonaatti

Autumn Sonata was streamed online world wide on Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE’s website, Finnish National Opera and Ballet Stage24 and The Opera Platform on 23rd September 2017. The opera is now available as video on demand.


Act I

It’s autumn and the parsonage is anticipating Charlotte’s visit. Charlotte, a celebrated pianist, has been touring concert halls and has not seen her daughters Eva and Helena in seven years. Helena is sick and mute, and Eva and her husband Viktor have lost their three-year-old son Erik. Charlotte is also bereaved: her partner Leonardo has died.

Charlotte arrives and immediately starts talking about her new clothes. Soon she finds out that Helena, whom she had put in a care home, now lives at the parsonage. Charlotte is left alone, with only her imaginary concert audience for company, to which she laments the uncomfortable situation. When Eva takes her to see Helena, Leonardo appears, too, and hints at something that happened while they were in Bornholm together. Charlotte doesn’t understand what Helena is trying to say. She is resolved to cut her visit short, and her admiring audience backs the decision.

In the evening Charlotte asks Eva to play the piano, but it’s obvious she doesn’t appreciate her daughter’s performance. The audience seems to be bored by it, too. The next day, Viktor tells Charlotte how the arrival of Erik changed their life. Then, just before his fourth birthday, Erik drowned. Why had God taken everything away? Charlotte doesn’t know what to say. Eva thinks Erik is still with her: thoughts and feelings can reach beyond death.

As Charlotte is getting ready for bed and takes her sedatives, a scream breaks the silence of the house. Eva hurries to calm down Helena and meets Charlotte. Their heated discussion brings repressed emotions to the surface. Eva can’t decide which was worse – Charlotte being away on tour or being at home. ”Mother and daughter, what a terrible combination of emotions,” Eva says.

Act II

Eva describes how she felt when her mother would always leave for her concert tours. Charlotte remembers the fear of losing her career. Helena screams again and Eva leaves to attend to her sister.

Charlotte tells her admiring audience she wasn’t prepared for such a conversation. Little by little, the conflict between mother and daughter unravels the secrets of the past: when Eva was pregnant at the age of 18, Charlotte pressured her to abort the unborn baby. “Can a daughter never break free from her mother”, Viktor wonders.

Helena begins to speak, recalling how one Easter in Bornholm, years ago, Leonardo kissed her and she felt at peace. Charlotte had then asked Leonardo to stay, as his presence was good for Helena. Now Eva, Viktor and Leonardo all blame Charlotte for Helena’s illness. Once left alone with her audience, Charlotte apologises for everything she has done wrong. She wants to change.

In the morning, Viktor tells Helena that Charlotte has gone. Helena starts to scream and. Eva regrets their argument and writes to Charlotte that she has wronged her. At the same time elsewhere, Charlotte speaks to her agent about the visit and asks why the sick Helena shouldn’t be allowed to die. “There’s an opportunity for us to take care of each other, I don’t think it’s too late,” Eva writes.

Höstsonaten; Anne Sofie von Otter; Erika Sunnegårdh

“A mother and a daughter, what a terrible combination.”
– Eva, Autumn Sonata


Performances and tickets

2 h 30 min
1 performance
On the road
Stockholm, Berwaldhallen
Performed in swedish

Tickets to the concert are available through the Baltic Sea Festival.