Helsinki Baroque Orchestra stages Koželuch’s forgotten opera Gustav Wasa in Musiikkitalo (Helsinki Music Centre)

Helsinki Baroque Orchestra will stage Gustav Wasa, the only surviving opera by the Czech composer Leopold Koželuch (1747–1818), in Musiikkitalo (Helsinki Music Centre) in March 2018 – marking the 200th anniversary of the composer’s death. The opera has not been performed after Koželuch’s lifetime. A manuscript score and libretto of Gustav Wasa are preserved at the library of Prague Conservatory, and the material has been edited for the first time specifically for this production.
The opera tells the story of King Gustav of Sweden’s battle against King Christian’s Danish invaders. The international cast includes sopranos Martina Janková, Helena Juntunen and Tuuli Lindeberg, mezzo-soprano Monica Groop, tenors Mario Zeffiri and Niall Chorell, bass Cornelius Uhle, Helsinki Chamber Choir and Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, with Aapo Häkkinen conducting.

Koželuch succeeded Mozart as imperial court composer and conductor in 1792. Gustav Wasa dates from his late Vienna period, but the performance date and circumstances are not known. Scored for full Classical orchestra including three trombones and extended percussion, early Romantic instrumental colours are already discernible in Koželuch’s writing. The entirely through-composed vocal parts constitute another progressive feature for German opera of the time. The libretto is attributed to King Gustav III of Sweden, assassinated in 1792.

The opera is directed by Ville Sandqvist based on Erik Söderblom’s original concept. The semi-staged production will utilise green screen video technology as well as costume, lighting and other technical possibilities available in Musiikkitalo.

Performances take place on 3, 6 and 10 March at 7:30pm.
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