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FULL KAIVOS or THE MINE (Rautavaara) Budapest 2016 Tommi Hakala, Adrienn Miksch, Béla Laborfalvi Soos, Péter Fried

Video Recording from: vk     FULL VIDEO     Qries

Information on the Performance
Information about the Recording
  • Published by: M5  
  • Date Published: 2016  
  • Format: Broadcast
  • Quality Video: 4 Audio:4
  • Subtitles: yessubs, othersubs  
  • Video Recording from: vk     FULL VIDEO

The Mine is the first opera written by Rautavaara, which was first introduced in a concert-version production in 2010, despite originating around half a century earlier. The delay is interesting, because this is one of the very finest works of Finnish opera, and one that also bears an important imprint of its era. The piece’s history started in 1957, when Rautavaara was studying music composition in Switzerland, where he encountered Hungarian refugees who related to him the political events in their homeland the previous year. This is also when he heard the story of the miners left trapped deep underground as the result of a collapse. In the piece, the miners rise up against the dictatorship and hold a general strike. As a closed community functioning in a closed space, the mine becomes a powerful metaphor for life and existence.

Rautavaara’s serially-influenced early compositional style sets the opening of The Mine with taught rhythms and gaping textures. The angry coal miners have beaten and tied up the Kommisar, and their leader Marko further stokes discontent. When their colleague Simon, who has spent several years away from the mine, returns with his partner Ira, the constellation changes. Rautavaara’s libretto is not a directly transparent narrative, and he establishes symbolic contrast between Simon’s time living in the mountains and the subterranean labyrinth where the resistors will ultimately confront their powerlessness. In one of the opera’s few aria-like passages, Simon, sympathetically and richly sung by Tommi Hakala, reflects nostalgically. Wisps of melody decorate a pointillistic backdrop as he admits that the time of the birds is over. Now it is the time of the earth.

The second act switches to jazz-tinged music ostensibly sounding from a radio as a disillusioned Ira seeks a dance partner. Although her character is two-dimensional and an object of scorn, Adrienn Miksch’s clarion soprano and energetic stage presence underscore her tragic abandonment as Simon decides to focus on leading the resistance. Ira fatefully cuts loose the Kommisar (Béla Laborfalvi Soós), who in turns wounds Marko, and draws Ira into the middle of a potentially fatal altercation with Simon, powerfully staged as a strange dance in itself with gripping, concentrated music.

Antti Mattila’s aptly bleak and economical grey set openly transforms to become a shaft into the mine for the third and final act. Simon prevents anyone from escaping. Rautavaara achieves impressive climactic waves as the trapped chorus pray. A priest, sung sombrely by Péter Fried, seems reassured but their outbursts are desperate, and the community unravels as a dissonant drinking song ensues. Marko, authoritatively sung and acted by Atilla Kiss B., dies with his arms outstretched, crucifixion-like, while Ira is shot in a wild outburst by Simon. The men and women abandon him to pursue another underground route. Bells toll as the Komissar leads the Communists in storming the mine. They impale Simon before following the voices in the distance. Whereas Rautavaara envisioned the last scene showing the miners reaching open air, director Vilppu Kiljunen’s handling of this potent material leaves us in the dark, with the Komissar’s deadly searchlight scanning the faces of the audience.

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