JÜRI REINVERE :: PURGE, based on the novel of SOFI OKSANEN

A story of modern human trafficking  and the aftermath of WWII

libretto by the composer

premiere in Finnish National Opera, 20. April 2012


Duration: act I 60′, act II 70′. Orchestra (3333…), choir, soloists. 

Published by FennicaGehrman, Finland

“Born a classic!” Kotimaa (Finland)

“By putting us inside a mind that shuts off in self-defense at the onset of brutality, Reinvere tells us more than any amount of thrusting orchestral violence ever could.” Financial Times (UK)

“A Purge worthy of homage. […] Like straight out of Kalevala…” Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden)

“An opera based on a novel nominated with Prix Femina and Fnac, “Purge” wakes up the frightening and shameful history, where two women have to face the tragedy of destiny.” La Scene (France)

“It hits right to the core of opera culture. […] The final scene reaches the Wagnerian scales… The end of the “Purge” is one of the most beautiful ones ever…” Kirkko ja kaupunki (Finland)



“The bold combination of history, politics and suspense” The Sunday Times (UK)

Film version produced by Solar Films

Rights of the novel sold to 43 territories, stage rights sold to 11 territories

“…/ [It] is a novel with a psychological dimension that tells with honesty a tragic chapter in European history.” Turisti per caso magazine (Italy)

Over 300000 copies sold in France, over 30 months on Bestseller list in Finland


Jüri Reinvere’s score, at once suggestive and dramatic, achieves an effect where the stage seems to mirror an entire society, filling the stage and creating intimate moments. His musical language is modern, but the focus on gripping story-telling makes Purge a classical opera. “I emphasize Estonians coming to terms with the past. I claim that the past can only become the past when we have faced it eye to eye,” says Reinvere.

Reinvere wanted to pay homage to classical opera and complete the most important arias. This opera is very challenging for the singers – both the soloists and the chorus. The part of the main character Aliide requires a range of two and a half octaves. Additionally Reinvere uses documentary soundscapes, e.g. original sounds of American Studebaker-cars, which the Soviets used for the deportation of people to Siberia.

“It was important that Purge was made an opera from beginning to end.” says the composer. “It cannot be an illustration of the book or the play. It has to work as the most classical operas work together, like Dumas and Verdi, for instance” and adds: “opera has a strange skill. It is simultaneously the truth, and more than the truth. By telling the truth of the past, we can understand finally the present, both in ourselves and in the music, which we are surrounded by”. (from the Finnish National Opera)

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