Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: The Knight and the Dragon
PERFORMER: Curt Appelgren, Helena Juntunen, Charlotte Hellekant, Rúni Brattaberg, Aki Alamikkotervo; Turku Opera Chorus, Turku PO/Ulf Söderblom
At the heart of Mikko Heiniö’s The Knight and the Dragon is a potent Jungian allegory. The story of the struggle between forces of good and evil comes to be seen as symbolic of the conflict which rages within us all as individuals. In the story, good (Göran Sköld, a Nordic version of the mythical St George) defeats evil (the bandit Sören Drake – the ‘Dragon’), but the real triumph is Princess Marina’s realisation that she is herself a mixture of light and darkness, knight and dragon. Heiniö’s score begins well, effectively contrasting the austere dissonance of the crowd-scenes with the warmer, tonally oriented music of Marina and her father, Prince Erik. And for all his tortuous chromaticism, Heiniö writes sympathetically for the singers – soloists and chorus – so that you feel the composer is working with the voices rather than against them, as in too many late 20th-century operas. But for all its intensity and well-measured pace, The Knight and the Dragon loses its grip towards the end, partly through Heiniö’s over-fondness for one aspiring chordal progression – itself very similar to a leading motif in Enescu’s opera Oedipe. Still, The Knight and the Dragon is performed with plenty of conviction in this fine recording, Curt Appelgren being especially convincing in the role of the tortured Prince Erik. Stephen Johnson