Autumn Sonata



About the concert

“If I had to choose between losing my sight or my hearing, I would keep my hearing”, said Ingmar Bergman. In spite of the lack of background music, music is still at the heart of the film, Autumn Sonata, which was Ingmar’s as well as Ingrid Bergman’s final film. Ingrid plays Charlotte, a famous pianist who invested in her successful career at the expense of her relationship with her daughters. When she visits her two grown-up children at the farm where they live, old wounds are torn open and deeply buried secrets are unearthed.

Bergman himself was never really happy with the film. He felt that he was unable to achieve his vision, that he could not “delve as deeply” as he would have needed to portray the characters. Finnish librettist Gunilla Hemming said in an interview that she, being both a daughter and a mother, developed strong feelings for the theme from the very moment she saw the film as a young woman. And she does not understand Bergman’s dissatisfaction and implies that maybe he delved more deeply into himself than he was prepared to admit in creating the proud and attention-seeking character of Charlotte.

Finland-Swedish composer Sebastian Fagerlund has been called a post-modern impressionist who is not afraid to mix western and oriental influences with romanticism or, for that matter, hard rock. He has previously written a chamber opera about General Georg Carl von Döbeln which, like this one, contains dreamlike elements. In the Autumn Sonata, it is Charlotte’s inner voices, a concert audience that follow and haunt her, which reinforce both her voice and those of the other characters. Charlotte is prevented from leaving the cold, merciless limelight, even as the world is falling apart around her as well as within her.

Ingmar Bergman’s centenary is celebrated throughout the year. This magnificent and critically acclaimed reinterpretation of Bergman’s final creation is in many ways a tribute to the internationally renowned director and author who was one of Sweden’s most significant artists of all time. The opera premièred in Helsinki in September last year and the entire cast is now coming to Berwaldhallen. Anne Sofie von Otter, who plays Charlotte, said in an interview that, like Bergman, Sebastian Fagerlund knows how to balance melancholy with bright and beautiful moments: “The story is very vicious and tragic, even terrifying. But it cannot be exclusively tragic, and there are other colours there as well.” Throughout the plot, love is a consistent theme, as is longing and the struggle for understanding – and forgiveness.