The Fur Hat Opera lays bare the workings of the state and power, and the fate of the little people and nature in it all. The opera raises questions about sacrification of nature, guilt, deception, forgiveness, community empowerment and can one forgive wrongdoings against nature, culture and humanity. The opera brings to light a range of societal tensions: the salmon-fishing farmers v. the state, urban v. rural, old ways v. blind belief in development, and nature v. economics.
“In The Fur Hat Opera, the demise of the salmon-fishing culture along the River Kemijoki develops into an insightful, universal account of what might happen when an individual runs up against the state machine. Politics in post-war Finland witnessed events whose nature no one wanted to see – and maybe still don’t – and which no one ever acknowledged. The compensation claims of those who lost their livelihood – salmon – languished in the courts for 30 years, claims which welled up from the profound injustice and humiliation they suffered. When they had had enough, ‘a fur hat delegation’ gathered and headed for Helsinki to demand justice and moral rehabilitation. The opera’s solid basis in historical fact and its political timeliness make this unique theatrical production exceptionally interesting.”
– director Erik Söderblom
The Fur hat delegation on their way to the Ministry of Justice in autumn 1979. Photo: The archive of Lapin Kansa. Heikki Rissanen.
After the Second World War, the Finnish state and the politicians in power made a special project of buying up and harnessing the rapids on the Kemijoki, replacing those lost with Karelia.
The story opens with a look at the fishing communities on the River Kemijoki that have spent decades trying to get compensation for the salmon lost to the dams. Finally, the men get together and decide to set out for Helsinki en masse to demand justice.
This starts an adventure, where the narrative is driven by absurd turns in a political thriller and a tale of exploitation in post-war Lapland that rivals a Greek tragedy.
The full synopsis will be available in the programme leaflet.
“Composing the music for the Fur Hat Opera has been a particularly engaging project for me given the issues it raises. What has made it nothing less than unique is the way in which Sami, Erik and I have built up the narrative scene by scene. I have had more latitude than usual when it comes to placing text and making the most of its melodic potential. And the story does not leave the audience cold: the forthright criticism of how the environment is treated and how decisions are made is art doing what it should”.
– composer Tapio Tuomela
Music Tapio Tuomela
Libretto Sami Parkkinen
Director Erik Söderblom
Assistant director Ina Hukki
Conductor John Storgårds
Assistant conductor Ruut Kiiski
Orchestra Lapin kamariorkesteri
Rehearsal pianist Anna Laakso
Choral director Saara Aittakumpu
Video design Heikki Huttu-Hiltunen ja Otso Pakarinen
Lighting design Jukka Huitila
Costumes Silvia Jurvansuu & Anniliina Parkkinen (with Riina Kaarlela, Marika Ylisirniö ja Karolina Aho)/ University of Lapland, degree programme in Fashion, textile art and materials research. Student instructor Johanna Oksanen
Produced by Kemijoen kulttuurituki ry (Kemijoki Cultural Association), producers Olli Tiuraniemi ja Jussi Merikanto.
Production assistant Ina Hukki
Ville Rusanen, Reino, former salmon fisher
Mari Palo, Eevi, Reino’s wife
Hanna Rantala, Piija, Kekkonen’s sauna attendant
Samuli Takkula, Kekkonen, president
Hannu Niemelä, Eelis, leader of the fur hat delegation
Aki Alamikkotervo, Lasse, member of the delegation
Jouni Kokora, Jouko, member of the delegation
Nicholas Söderlund, Jaakko, member of the delegation
Lasse Penttinen, Häyrynen, reporter
Markus Nieminen, Väyrynen, minister
Tuomas Miettola, Virolainen, minister
Veikko Vallinoja, Taxell, minister
Laura Salovaara, Pate Hinkkanen
What can we get you?
The services of the Opera Restaurant are available before performances and during the interval. Choose your favourite refreshments from this season’s tasty menu.
Refreshments are recommended to be ordered in advance. Online sales are available until 24 hours before the performance.
Our restaurant service is provided by Food&Events Tapahtumaravintolat.