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Rahvusooper Estonia *

During our days in Helsinki, it turned out that just about every major performance venue was closed for repairs. Crossing the water for a very quick visit to Tallinn, our musical luck changed considerably. That evening, our choice seemed to be between Mahler's Eighth and, next door, Wagner's Lohengrin. Given that Estonia's entire population is 1.3 million, that looks like pretty good classical music provision on a random evening right at the beginning of the season.

At this late moment we were able to buy a pair of €64 tickets (the top price, best seats in the house) for what turned out to be the National Opera's season opening. The building looked at first rather too modest to house a Wagner opera, but the orchestra all fitted in, and the somewhat chamber-like scaled down sound levels were a pleasure to hear. I thoroughly enjoyed the focused production by Michiel Dijkema, who had not only directed, but designed the set and lighting. The costumes had a Game of Thrones feel which (I'm saying despite never having watched a single episode) appeared to suit the story which is actually set in Antwerp during some mysteriously ancient era.

During the interval I chatted shyly to our neighbours, who on this opening night must have been amongst the great and the good of Tallinn, but were so proud of their opera company being able to stage something like this. And what a beautiful piece, all the more magical for us encountering it by chance, to quote Lohengrin himself, 'in fernem Land'.

*Estonian National Opera





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