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Music Director

Sir Antonio Pappano

Director of Opera

Oliver Mears

Performed by arrangement with Chester Music Ltd

A co-production and co-commission with Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, Dutch National Opera, Finnish National Opera and San Francisco Opera

Generous philanthropic support from Julia and Hans Rausing and Tina Taylor

Production supported by The London Community Foundation and Cockayne


04.05.2023 20:00

The 5th performance by The Royal Opera at the Royal Opera House.


This performance lasts approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, there is no interval.


Suitable for ages 12+

This production contains stylized depictions of a school shooting


Kaija Saariaho
Sofi Oksanen
Dramaturg and Translator
Aleksi Barrière
Simon Stone
Set Designer
Chloe Lamford
Costume Designer
Mel Page
Lighting Designer
James Farncombe
Arco Renz


Conducted by
Susanna Mälkki
The Waitress (Tereza)
Jenny Carlstedt
The Mother-in-Law (Patricia)
Sandrine Piau
The Father-in-Law (Henrik)
Christopher Purves
The Bride (Stela)
Lilian Farahani
The Bridegroom (Tuomas)
Markus Nykänen
The Priest
Timo Riihonen
The Teacher (Cecilia)
Lucy Shelton
Student one (Markéta)
Vilma Jää
Student two (Lilly)
Beate Mordal
Student three (Iris)
Julie Hega
Student four (Anton)
Simon Kluth
Student five (Jerónimo)
Camilo Delgado Díaz
Student six (Alexia)
Marina Dumont
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Principal Guest Concert Master
Vasko Vassilev
Royal Opera Chorus
Chorus Director
William Spaulding
Chorus Master
Genevieve Ellis

Principal Guest Concert Master Vasko Vassilev appears by Arrangement with Trittico 

Actors Aquira Bailey-Browne, Peter Cooney, Erin Corfield, Aoife O’Dea, Elijah Ferreira, Joseph Riley, India Rose, Bao Tieu


The story occurs across two timelines. A wedding is being celebrated in Helsinki in the 2000s; in the world of memory, seven people recount a traumatic event they experienced ten years earlier. The connection between these realities is gradually revealed.


Tuomas and Stela are getting married in Finland. They met while Tuomas was vacationing in Romania. Stela is in love with her new country, ‘where one can stroll safely at night’, and Tuomas’s parents, Henrik and Patricia, are excited to have a new member of the family. However, the parents cannot agree whether Stela be told about the family drama they call ‘the tragedy’.

The wedding is haunted by seven figures who tell of their trauma and the difficulty of recapturing normal life. Everything was turned upside down ten years earlier, while six of them were students in high school and the seventh taught them there.


Some of the employees of the wedding’s catering service have fallen ill, and a Czech waitress, Tereza, is called in to help. As she arrives, Tereza realises she already knows the groom’s family (‘That name ended my life ten years ago’). Tereza is amazed that their lives could have continued, while hers was forever interrupted.

Tuomas’ parents argue again: Patricia thinks they should invite their firstborn son to the wedding, even though Stela doesn’t know of his existence. This is inconceivable to Henrik (‘That boy doesn’t belong to this family anymore!’). Later, he confesses to Tereza his disappointment in his son, but he does not seem to remember that he has met her before. He blames himself for his children’s harsh upbringing – and that he taught his son to shoot. 

The students and teacher reveal more about their current lives; it is revealed that one of them is Markéta, Tereza’s daughter, who died in the tragedy.


Tereza speaks to Stela and realizes that the tragedy and the family’s part in it have been hidden from the bride. Tereza reveals her identity to the father and accuses him of causing her daughter’s death. Meanwhile, the priest attempts to comfort Patricia, who blames herself for raising a monster. Alone, the priest admits he noticed there ‘was something wrong with that boy’ but never said anything at the time. He does not believe that the son, who has been released from prison with a new name, can be redeemed.

Markéta and the other students remember that day when the shooter, Tuomas’s brother, killed ten students and one teacher. Their memories morph into a recitation of the victims’ names. Those who survived ‘had to learn not to remind,’ except when the media and politicians exploited the tragedy to their advantage. 


Tereza reveals the past events to Stela and the wedding guests. Tuomas wishes his brother was dead, but Patricia defends him, saying Markéta was also a monster because she bullied her son. 

The students’ memories reveal that Markéta and some of the other survivors constantly bullied the shooter. One of the students, Iris, who was a friend of the shooter, pushes back against the others’ delusion that the bullying had nothing to do with the shooting. She blames them all for the tragedy.


Stela and Tuomas discuss the consequences of Tereza’s revelations: Stela is ready to accept everything out of love for her fiancé but Tuomas believes their new beginning is shattered. When the priest and his parents try to convince Tuomas to have faith in his future, Tuomas admits the truth: he, his brother and Iris conspired together to plan the shooting. At the decisive moment, Tuomas and Iris got cold feet, and the shooter carried out the plan alone, taking full responsibility. 

Despite it all, deep shame and love for the shooter live on in both of them. This revelation destroys the family’s last hopes of escaping the past. 

In the epilogue, we see glimpses of some survivors’ dreams for a more hopeful future. Markéta appears one last time and asks her mother to ‘let her go’.

– Aleksi Barrière and Sofi Oksanen


Music preparation
Christopher Willis, Edo Frenkel, Susanna Stranders, Kate Golla, Edward Batting
Susanna Stranders
Kate Golla
Assistant Directors
Donna Stirrup, Louise Bakker
Language Coaches
Lada Valesova, Katja Parmar, Sonja Nerdrum, Nelly Miricioiu, Alexandra Lowe, Michael Papadopoulos, Olle Zetterström, Tuukka Haapaniemi, Serafina Edelmann

Edo Frenkel is a Jette Parker Artist



The former Prince of Wales

Music Director

Sir Antonio Pappano

Director of Opera

Oliver Mears

Director of Casting

Peter Mario Katona

Administrative Director

Cormac Simms


We are working to make the Royal Opera House more sustainable. To do this, some of the ways in which we share information have changed, including cast sheets.

You can view the digital cast sheets on a computer, tablet or smartphone. You can also download and print the digital cast sheet. Check the digital cast sheet for the most up-to-date information before the performance starts, during the interval, or after the performance day.

Scan the QR codes displayed around the building with a smartphone to view the latest digital cast sheets. The cast sheets are also displayed on screens outside the auditoria.

Cast sheets generously supported by the Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.


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We are so glad to welcome our artists back to our theatres to perform for you the opera and ballet you love. During the pandemic we lost £3 in every £5 of our income and we continue to feel the impact as we recover. Sustaining the future of ballet and opera has never been so important. Please consider making a donation to the Royal Opera House community today and help support the future of ballet and opera.