Photo: Liina Aalto-Setälä

Clashes at the opera

Fairy Queen was like celebrating Christmas as a patchwork family,” says one of the students who contributed to the autumn 2012 opera production at the University of the Arts Helsinki.

The concept of the Fairy Queen project was as simple as this: take 30 students and teachers from different fields of arts, give them an opera to work on, and shut them away in an old engine room for a fortnight. As a result, the ensemble premiered Henry Purcell's baroque “semiopera” Fairy Queen.

This joint project was an extensive investigation of the possibilities of combining different forms of art. Fairy Queen was also a forum for the sometimes fierce clashes between different ways of making art. “Our different backgrounds forced us to engage in a serious dialogue about the definition of valuable art,” one of the participants recalled.

Eventually, the chaos of the early stages turned into a unique work of art. As one of the students put it: “Probably that is what art could be about.”