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[NPR] “Half Of Humanity Has Something To Say”: Composer Kaija Saariaho On Her Met Debut. Excerpts.


The last time New York’s Metropolitan Opera presented a work written by a woman was 113 years ago. That situation has finally been rectified this week with the New York premiere of the opera L’Amour de Loin by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.

Another Finn, Susanna Mälkki — herself only the fourth woman ever to lead the Metropolitan Opera orchestra — is conducting Saariaho’s opera. She says Saariaho’s compositions have a special voice. « Her language is unlike any other music language of any other composer, » Mälkki says.

For her part, Saariaho is a little tired of talking about the operatic glass ceiling. « It’s kind of ridiculous, » she says. « I feel that we should speak about my music and not of me being a woman. »

Saariaho says she’s dreamed about having her work performed at the Met and is happy her opera is finally on its stage. But she’s also acutely aware of the problems women still face in classical music. « I’ve seen it with young women who are battling with the same things I was battling … 35 years ago, » she says.

Saariaho says the persistence of these gender barriers might even cause her to revise her earlier point. « Maybe we, then, should speak about it, even if it seems so unbelievable, » she says. « You know, half of humanity has something to say, also. »

This entry was posted in NPR [US].

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