Musica nova: FLASH FLASH – the two deaths of andy warhol
Warhol’s various existences – always scandalous – as a painter, filmmaker, media personality and thinker crystallise many of the cultural and societal changes that characterise the most recent iteration of the Western cultural paradigm. Also insinuating their way into the picture are the United States and the Western way of life, along with their engine – consumerism. What in Warhol’s time was flamboyant fiction has become our reality. Flash Flash is an incandescent requiem that encompasses – just as Warhol’s art does – serenity and passion, religious art and pornography, trash and diamonds. The opera depicts Modern Man who flirts with destruction and death and is incessantly desirous of big effects and ease, of voyeurism and cheap melodrama, of buying and selling – all presented in a gilded frame: the world of opera, or opera as the world.
The opera’s at once seductively melodious and occasionally wholly pop-inflected pulse takes its beat from the rhythms and intonations of speech. Nuorvala utilises an unusual microtonal tuning system known as just intonation to imbue the music with a fascinating sense of the unreal.
Created by composer Juhani Nuorvala and librettist Juha Siltanen, Flash Flash is an exceptional opera. The opus was completed over a decade ago but has not been premiered until now. Though never before staged, the work has already achieved mythical status. Composers have been studying the score, the audience has been feverishly awaiting the premiere; and finally, in February 2019, the opera, the stage and the audience come together.
Erik Söderblom directs a cast of brilliant singers – Tuuli Lindeberg, Varvara Merras-Häyrynen, Martti Anttila, Sampo Haapaniemi, David Hackston – and masterful tap dancer Ari Kauppila. NYKY-ensemble is conducted by Nils Schweckendiek. Joint production by the Espoo City Theatre, Musica nova Helsinki, University of the Arts Helsinki and Aalto University Executive producer: MiklagardArts.
Juhani Nuorvala, composer
Juha Siltanen, libretto
Nils Schweckendiek, conductor
Erik Söderblom, director
Reeta Tuoresmäki, set designer
Teo Lanerva, lighting & video designer
Iida Ukkola, costume designer
Kalev Tiits, Marko Myöhänen, sound designer
Sibelius Academy Centre for Music and Technology
David Hackston, tenor
Sampo Haapaniemi, bass
Varvara Merras-Häyrynen, mezzosoprano
Martti Anttila, baritone
Tuuli Lindeberg, soprano
Ari Kauppila, tap dancer
Musica nova Helsinki Feb 1-10, 2019
Musica nova Helsinki is Finland’s largest contemporary music festival. Held biennially, it presents the very latest music, composers now making their mark internationally, and contemporary classics.