SEBASTIAN FAGERLUND (b.1972): Döbeln.
Catalogue Number: 02M097
Description: General Döbeln was a hero of the Finnish-Swedish war of 1808-09, and the opera was written in the bicentenary year of Finland's separation from Sweden. The history of the war is not the point of the opera, however. Döbeln was seriously wounded in battle, and spends the duration of the opera being operated on by a field surgeon who remains the work's link to reality, and two rather absurd doctors. Under the influence of opium, Döbeln has a series of increasingly bizarre hallucinations in which his dream-self meets various figures from the conflict and experiences events from the future, culminating in an absurdist scene in which he imagines himself transformed into a fish. The work s written on an economical scale, without sacrificing dramatic impact in the slightest; the soloists each take on several roles, thus heightening the sense of unreality, with Döbeln's dream double in fact, sung by the soprano. Fagerlund's idiom is by no means modernistic or inaccessible; propulsively driven passages and the music's sense of momentum suggest a natural successor to Finland's elder statesman of opera, Sallinen, as does the raw emotion and the undertones of brooding tragedy, even when illuminated by moments of wry, surreal humor. Swedish/Finnish-English libretto. Anu Komsi, Annika Mylläri (sopranos), Lasse Penttinen (tenor), Sören Lillkung (baritone), Robert McLoud (bass), West Coast Kokkola Opera, Kokkola Opera Festival Orchestra; Sakari Oramo.