11, March 2022

Kaija Saariaho receives “Victoires de la Musique”

Kaija Saariaho has been awarded “Victoires de la Musique Classique 2022” in the “Composer” category for her opera Innocence. The announcement was made at the annual ceremony held at Grand Théâtre de Provence, Aix en Provence, on March 10.

Please watch here below the full Kaija Saariaho’s acceptance speech:


Innocence was jointly commissioned by the Festival International d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Finnish National Opera, San Francisco Opera and Dutch National Opera. It was premiered on July 3, 2022, at Grand Théâtre de Provence, Aix en Provence with musical director Susanna Mälkki conducting and staged by the Australian theatre director Simon Stone.

It is a typical wedding for a cosmopolitan city, in present-day Finland. The fiancé is Finnish, the bride Romanian, and the mother-in-law French. But suddenly, during the wedding banquet, the Czech waitress feels ill… Ten years earlier, these characters were struck by a tragic event. Ghosts revive their memories of the trauma, which occurred in a school; there is a guilty haze, a lost innocence.

Innocence is the result of a meeting between Kaija Saariaho, Aleksi Barrière and Sofi Oksanen, who is unrivalled in her ability to force today’s reality to confront the past. Innocence — multiplot opera for soloists, chorus and orchestra — is a contemporary tragedy made radiant through its powerful music and the intermingling of words from different languages.