The third part of the Moomins at the theatre stories will focus on the Finnish National Operas Moomin Opera from 1974. Earlier, we already told you about the Mumintrollet och kometen and Troll i kulisserna plays. The Moomins at the theatre exhibition is open until the summer of 2017 at the Helsinki Theatre Museum at the Cable Factory.
When Tove Jansson started working at the National Opera in Finland, the Moomins had already made a worldwide success. Almost all Moomin books were already published, translated into 20 different languages, and appeared in up to 40 different countries.
The Moomin opera started from the initiative of composer Ilkka Kuusisto. He had seen the previous plays and immediately contacted Tove Jansson about a possible collaboration, and only shortly afterward, Tove started writing a libretto. The story of the Moomin opera was the same as Troll i kulisserna written in an opera format. In the opera, however, the whole Moomin family was present.
In the Moomin opera, an underwater volcano causes a flood in the Moominvalley, forcing the Moomin family to flee and eventually find shelter at the opera. Here the family starts pursuing the art of the opera. It turns out that the Fillyjonks’ housemaid Misabel is a real opera star.
The opera was musically very versatile, and Ilkka Kuusisto also composed oratorio songs, operettas, and even electronic dance music in addition to the classical children’s opera.
The Moomin opera was directed and choreographed by Heikki Värtsi, and Thomas Gripenberg designed the backdrop. The big heads of the Moomins were kept on during the performance; this time, they were designed for singing, so there wouldn’t be a problem with the sound.
The Moomin opera aired for the first time in December 1974. The critics were unconvinced, but the children loved seeing the characters live on stage. The opera was shown 34 times, and around 15000 people saw it.
Text: Theatre Museum
Poster: Tove Jansson’s archive, © Moomin Characters™
Booklet: Theatre museum’s archive