Sofi Oksanen's international bestseller "Purge" in a gut-wrenching opera by the composer Jüri Reinvere.
Eestlased Soomes 23 May 2012  EWR
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Sofi Oksanen's international bestseller "Purge" in a gut-wrenching opera by the composer Jüri Reinvere.
Purge had its world premiere at the Finnish National Opera on 20th April 2012. The opera takes on the history of aftermath of WWII and modern human trafficing and has earned praise in the Finnish media as well as the international press. The production at the Finnish National Opera runs until 25th May 2012.
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The authors of the opera have created a perfect match of literary work and modern opera, witnessed by the audience, who at the premiere remained in revered silence for an entire minute after the performance had ended. Purge centres on the the times of bloodbaths in the Soviet Union and traces the tales of two women in parallel. Their fate is the fate of the nation. In the story, the encounter of the older woman, Aliide, and young Zara, leads to the revealing of the two women's harrowing pasts and also the history of Estonia moving back and forth from the 1930s to the present day. The theme of modern day slavery and human trafficking becomes the sub text to the opera.
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Jüri Reinvere's score, at once suggestive, expressive and dramatic, achieves an effect where the stage seems to mirror an entire society, filling the stage and creating intimate moments. His musical language is modern, but the focus on gripping story-telling makes Purge a classical opera. Reinvere has also written the libretto. "I emphasise Estonians coming to terms with the past. I claim that the past can only become the past when we have faced it eye to eye," says Reinvere.

Reinvere wanted to pay homage to classical opera and complete the most important arias. This opera is very challenging for the singers – both the soloists and the chorus. The part of the main character Aliide requires a range of two and a half octaves. Additionally Reinvere uses documentary soundscapes, e.g. original sounds of American Studebaker-cars, which the Soviets used for the deportation of people to Siberia.

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"It was important that Purge was made an opera from beginning to end." says the composer. "It cannot be an illustration of the book or the play. It has to work as the most classical operas work together, like Dumas and Verdi, for instance" and adds: "opera has a strange skill. It is simultaneously the truth, and more than the truth. By telling the truth of the past, we can understand finally the present, both in ourselves and in the music, which we are surrounded by".

For more information about the production and the cast, please visit
The synopsis of the opera is attached.
London, 2011

Back in London I fall onto the bed, exhausted. My friend does not allow me to stay, forcing me to leave to town every morning at eight. Probably this saves me.
I try not to listen music. My perception has become extra-sensitive—at night I smell the toothpaste from the bathroom. On a street, passing by, I see Aliide and Zara entering a shop.
Coffee in the mornings, newspapers piled on the floor, the crackling sound of BBC Radio4. Lunch at Sheekey's.
I buy myself an orange bow tie for a wedding. I recognize the shop assistant having a Polish accent, and eventually speak Polish to her. She tells me she has escaped Poland and is hiding here from her boyfriend. "Do you have anywhere to stay in London?" she asks. "If not, you can always stay at my place."
"You know what, I am just writing an opera about you," I think to myself.
But then I say nothing.

(extract from Reinvere's blog


Further inquiries from the publisher of the opera:
Ari Nieminen, Publishing Manager / Fennica Gehrman
+ 358 10 3871222

Ticket inquiries:

The Finnish National Opera

Tor Jonasson, Sofi Oksanen's literary agent:

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Jüri Reinvere, an Estonian-born composer and poet living in Berlin, Germany graduated as a composer from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in 2004. He works in many different musical styles including several compositions to his own poems. Purge is Reinvere's first opera. Additionally he has also written articles, screenplays and essays and produced documentaries.

Sofi Oksanen's Purge, based on a play of the same name, is one of the most widely read Finnish novels of all time. To date, translation rights to the novel have been sold in 43 different languages and over a million copies have been sold worldwide. It has received outstanding critical acclaim internationally and won several awards, including the Finlandia Prize, the Nordic Council Literature Prize and the Prix Femina Étranger in France. The film of Purge is to be premiered later in 2012.
Images from opera: Stefan Bremer
Image of Sofi Oksanen: © Toni Härkönen
Design by Andrew Bannister
Art Direction by Guy Allott
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