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Sallinen The Red Line

Opera in Two Acts, Op. 46 (1978 - sung in Finnish)
Music and libretto by Aulis Sallinen, based on the novel, ''The Red Line'' by Ilmari Kianto

Jorma Hynninen (Topi – a Crofter)
Päivi Nisula (Riika – his Wife)
Aki Alamikkotrvo (Puntarpaa - the Agitator)

Finnish National Opera Orchestra & Chorus/Tsuumi Dance Company/Mikki Franck, conductor
Pekka Milonoff, Stage Director
Recorded live in Helsinki, Finnish National Opera, May 2008

Ondine ODV4008 [DVD Video: 115’ + 44’ Extras]


Aulis Sallinen's ''The Red Line'' became one of the most popular Finnish operas, and the composer has half a dozen or so to his credit, several of which have been seen in London, most recently "The King Goes Forth to France" at Guildhall SMD.

I recall well the Kronos Quartet (themselves still unknown) playing "three Sallinen String Quartets at RAM in the mid '80s before an audience of no more than a dozen of us, very shortly before they made the big time and gave up playing such programmes".

This concise and powerful political two-act opera about rural privations in c.1907 deals with unrest and political agitation, tragedy supervening success in an election. It goes well on the small screen, with very imaginative sets and stage production, "economical to the point of plainness" [New York Times], allowing the viewer to concentrate on the music.

Excellent performances by the husband and wife at the heart of it, and by Aki Alamikkotrvo as the Agitator.


Peter Grahame Woolf