Lady Sarashina by Peter Eötvös

Premiere: April 10, 2019, Dampfzentrale Bern

Lady Sarashina is the first opera production of paradise is here, a performance realized in collaboration with Bern University of the Arts (HKB). Peter Eötvös, the composer of the piece, has created especially for this production a new, chamber music setting for his celebrated and much-performed opera “Lady Sarashina”.

Lady Sarashina was originally commissioned by the Opéra National de Lyon to Peter Eötvös and premiered on the 4th of March 2008. Eötvös composed this new opera from fragments of Sarashina’s Diary published in English under the title As I crossed a Bridge of Dreams. The work is divided into nine tableaux.

The sound world of this piece combines radio drama, cartoon soundtracks, electronic sound transformations, ambient sound, and acoustic art, as well as film and theatre music. The play is staged by Kami Wilhelmina Manns and the VERTIGO ensemble is directed by Lennart Dohms. The young up-and-coming soprano Erika Baikoff is not to be missed as Lady Sarashina, and other roles are played by vocals students from the Swiss Opera Studio HKB.


We do not know her name but Peter Eötvös called her Lady Sarashina… She lived in Japan, in the 11th century, an era of high civilisation where Japanese women held an essential place in social, economic and cultural life. She is the author of a classic of the Japanese literature, The Diary of Sarashina. Sarashina is in fact the name of a place which one never knew how to locate with precision; the Diary evokes a long journey which she made from Kyoto to Sarashina. In love with nature and Japanese landscapes, she describes in her Diary the sites she visits, the pilgrimages she makes to the temples, memories, dream stories, monologues about life and death. She started the Diary at the age of twelve and added her last notations after she had passed fifty. It is her life’s work. Lady Sarashina knew only a pale ray of light, a brief love story: a man she met one evening, with whom she exchanged poems, before he disappeared from her life. She never saw him again.

Peter Eötvös

Peter Eötvös (born in 1944) is one of the most important contemporary composers. He who was influenced by Boulez and Stockhausen among others. Author of an eclectic work due to its variety and the flexibility of its musical language, Peter Eötvös is a versatile artist endowed with an unquenchable curiosity. With his opera Three Sisters, premiered in March 1998 at the Opéra National de Lyon, the Hungarian composer has demonstrated, through a complex but perfectly dramatic musical writing, that the genre can be completely renewed and admit new masterpieces into its repertoire.


Music: Peter Eötvös
Libretto: Mari Mezei
Arrangement: Gregory Vajda
Musical direction: Lennart Dohms
Stage direction and stage design: Kami Wilhelmina Manns
Light design: Susanne Auffermann
Head of audio engineering: Beat Müller


Lady Sarashina: Erika Baikoff
In other roles: Students of the Swiss Opera Studio HKB – Yuka Masuno, Rira Kim, Louise Mary Martyn, Katarina Brenčič, Marlena Thiele, Réka Szabó, Paola Alcocer, Kristýna Hablova, Roxane Choux, Paweł Ślusarz, Salvador Pérez, Marek Pavlícek