Kasper Holten directs the opera Brothers

The Danish National Opera will be performing a new opera based on Susanne Bier’s film Brothers in 2017. The performance is part of the Concert Hall Aarhus’s Bier series, in which the acclaimed Danish film trilogy will be transformed – in connection with European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 – into theatrical art: Brothers as an opera, After the Wedding as a music theatre piece, and Open Hearts as modern dance.

The new Danish opera will be directed by Kasper Holten, and Steffen Aarfing will create the stage design. The composer is the Danish-born Icelander Daníel Bjarnason and the librettist is Kerstin Perski (Reumert Prize winner for The Confessional).

"I sat on a plane with tears running down my cheeks..."

“I’m really enthusiastic that the first job I am taking on as a freelance director after my time as Director of Opera at Covent Garden in the spring of 2017 will be with the Danish National Opera”, says Kasper Holten and continues: “This was where I staged my first major operas, and I still remember it as one of my first ‘artistic homes’. I am greatly looking forward to coming back to the Danish National Opera and not least to this exciting project as part of Euro­pean Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017. I have always had a special fondness for participating in the deve­lop­ment of brand new operas. The libretto for Brothers seems to me to be one of the best new opera librettos I have ever read. I sat on a plane with tears running down my cheeks and knew that I had to say yes. With the innovative and funky musical universe that Daníel Bjarnason stands for, I hope that together we can make Brothers into an intense, unique experience for the audience.”

General Manager and Artistic Director at the Danish National Opera Annilese Miskimmon has been part of the process since the work was commissioned from the composer and librettist: “I am extremely sorry to have to withdraw from the Brothers project when I leave the Danish National Opera on 1 January 2017, but I will follow the work with great inte­rest as I take up my new post at The Norwegian Opera & Ballet. I am delighted to have succeeded in securing such a wonderfully strong team to create this land­mark Danish opera for Danish National Opera in Aarhus 2017.” 

The music is by the Danish-born Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason and the libretto is by the Swedish writer Kerstin Perski, who also wrote the libretto for the Reumert Prize-winning opera The Confessional at the Danish National Opera. Danish and international singers together with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra will perform the opera Brothers at the Concert Hall Aarhus.

The film Brothers is the story of two brothers and a love triangle. Michael has a successful career in the army, a beautiful wife and two daughters. His younger brother Jannik is a drifter living on the edge of the law. When Michael is sent on a UN mission to Afghanistan and returns after a traumatic imprisonment, the balance between the two brothers is changed forever.

“Rethinking (the theme of Aarhus as European Capital of Culture 2017) has produced some of the finest operas ever written,” says Annilese Miskimmon, “Verdi rethought Shakespeare to give us his versions of Othello, Macbeth and Falstaff, for example; Wagner rethought Norse legend to give us his Ring Cycle. Artists throughout the ages have taken other people’s stories and rethought them from their own point of view. Daniel Bjarnason the composer and Kerstin Perski the librettist will take the film as the inspiration for their own response to Susanne Bier’s subject matter and characters. Where they might develop or focus the story is still unknown! Daniel grew up with opera, so the symphonic sound world he creates will have the best of the past and the best of the future. The sophisticated nature of the film’s themes will be reflected in the music... Some things in life are so emotionally complex that they transcend words and need the ambiguity and freedom of music to express them,” explains the General Manager of the DNO, Annilese Miskimmon.

Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017

Read more about Aarhus 2017 here.

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Musikhuset Aarhus


16. August 2017
7.30 pm
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18. August 2017
3.00 pm
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20. August 2017
7.30 pm
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20. August 2017
7.30 pm
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New opera: Brothers
Based on Susanne Bier's movie Brødre (2004)

Composer: Daníel Bjarnason
Libretto: Kerstin Perski
Director: Kasper Holten
Designer: Steffen Aarfing

Musikhuset Aarhus
August 2017

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