Culture - Monday 7.8.2000

Sport and song combine in Paavo Nurmi Opera spectacle

Culture and sports are to merge as one at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium on Friday and Saturday this week. A massive production by the Helsinki City Theatre on the life of the legendary Finnish long distance runner Paavo Nurmi is one of the major events of Helsinki's year as one of Europe's cultural capitals.
The Paavo Nurmi sports opera is attracting a wide array of people from sports fans to opera and theatre lovers, to history buffs.
Others have bought tickets because they liked the music of Tuomas Kantelinen in the Finnish war movie Ambush. Fans of writer Paavo Haavikko will be there to hear Haavikko's libretto. Nurmi's career as a businessman will interest today's market dealers.
Further attractions include historical events, President Kekkonen, the postponement of the Helsinki Olympics because of the war, and the events of the life of Paavo Nurmi himself.
Director Kalle Holmberg has to move a cast of a thousand people. Musical soloists include Gabriel Suovanen, Johanna Rusanen, Seppo Ruohonen and Eeva-Liisa Saarinen. A military band is accompanied by the Jyväskylä Symphony Orchestra. Vocal music is provided by the Helsinki Philharmonic Choir and the Vantaa Opera. All of the musicians are under the direction of conductor Markus Lehtinen.
The original Flying Finn is running again, this time in a sports opera.

 Paavo the Great

Helsingin Sanomat

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