Tristessa Opera

"Tristessa is a knockout that floored me from the start!"

"Bohlin’s style is generally very direct – this is intelligent, accessible and enjoyable music."

"the score by Jonas S. Bohlin underlined the dramatic action with intensity"



premiered at the Royal Opera house in Stockholm

in October 2018.

An opera in 2 acts by Jonas S. Bohlin, Torbjörn Elensky and Ann-Sofi Sidén

Nominated for breaking the norm at Scenkonstgalan


"Tristessa is a knockout that floored me from the start – and most of the other audience members as well. Tristessa is groundbreaking, and opera is most certainly alive!"  "I can’t remember a production in recent times that has yielded so much energy. Musically this is not just a question of volume and power. Long stretches of the score are chamber music-like and rather brittle, but it can be hard and driven when it gathers momentum, reminding us that Bohlin has his roots in the punk movement back in the late seventies,"

"the Royal Swedish Opera’s world premiere of Jonas S Bohlin’s new opera Tristessa was dramatically, visually and musically compelling." "Jonas S Bohlin may not be a household name in English-speaking countries, but he is well established in Sweden. Over a three-decade composing career he has produced an impressive range of works, including several large scale orchestral and choral works, chamber pieces, songs and instrumental works. All of this is evident in the score of Tristessa, which contains endless variety of scale, style and detail. Bohlin’s style is generally very direct – this is intelligent, accessible and enjoyable music. "

"Bohlin is not afraid of depicting the emotional life of some of the characters (such as Leilah) in a quite conventional, almost romantic way, while at other times he uses large scale orchestration, rhythmic and tonal instability to paint a superb musical picture of the chaotic world in which Evelyn lives. Often there is an underlying rhythmic pulse to the music, reminiscent of Philip Glass, which gives dramatic tension to the storytelling. And finally, there are clear nods to the operatic tradition in Bohlin’s writing, such as the aforementioned Wagnerian ending."

"One expects excellent orchestral standards in Scandinavia, and indeed the Swedish Royal Court Orchestra under Fredrik Burstedt was most impressive. After its inevitably short run in Stockholm, let’s hope that Tristessa is taken up by festivals and major houses in upcoming years. It’s work that certainly deserves to be heard more and is accessible enough to appeal to a wide ranging audience, not just opera or new-music lovers." 4 of 5

"the score by Jonas S. Bohlin underlined the dramatic action with intensity" "set in a dystopian future full of absurd and nightmarish elements." " The big questions it poses are profoundly current: what does it mean to be a man or a woman? Is gender (or even sex) only a performance? The famous words by Simone de Beauvoir were often projected on stage: “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”."

"This is a young opera not only because it is newly written , but because the appeal is freshly youthful."

"The fantastic vocal distribution concretizes considerably the composition of the double roles. Kerstin Avemo expresses through Lilith the virulence of his extremist claims, and by Leilah the malaise of the extra whore, with constant precision. John Erik Eleby embodies a zero full of panache that shows buried compassion and delectable cruelty. Her interpretation of Mother, in the first act, explores the bottom of her tessitura in tribal accents. The laurels, however, come back to the brilliant couple Johanna Rudström - Joel Annmo. When the formidable mezzo starts the first notes of the young Tristessa I, it is a copper blooming that reaches us. Thistle that pricks or freesia that cajole, she personifies the paradox of the star. Its transformation into Eve II makes it sparkle in the firmament, in an elevation contrary to its destiny. The tenor uses his measured projection to integrate into instrumental accompaniment. In Evelyn's skin, he is indomitably clear; in aged Tristessa, he is equally poignant in his delicate legatos and his sustained line of singing. This prodigious duo of transgender metamorphoses feeds his identity through his own exchanges. It is not the only thing to camp characters of a sex different from theirs which gives as much credit to the two singers, but their capacity to free themselves from the frame of a role in such a continuity. The dramatized theatrical marriage of Tristessa (aged) and Eve upset the counters of the unique genre as both return to their male or female stature before intermission.Joel Annmo and Johanna Rudström therefore leave us at no point at the side of the road, like the second roles mastered ( Susann Végh Nurse and the Seven Women full of color) and grandiose Choirs of Kungliga Operan ."

"With the creation of  Tristessa , the Stockholm Opera presents a new book that could be picked up elsewhere, thanks to its visual aesthetic, its accessible music and its booklet in English, as well as its modern theme. Born of an artistic collaboration, it is hoped that this work and its artistic work will continue to develop in the direction of musical theater."

"Avec la création de Tristessa, l’Opéra de Stockholm présente un nouvel ouvrage qui pourrait être repris ailleurs, grâce à son esthétique visuelle, sa musique accessible et son livret en anglais, ainsi que sa thématique moderne. Née d’une collaboration artistique, il faut espérer que cette œuvre et son travail artistique continuent à se développer en direction du théâtre musical."

"Det här är ett mästerverk och bör bli långlivat på scen och den passar absolut alla att se." betyg 5 av 5.

"Vokalt och sceniskt är det en stor operaupplevelse" "Musiken är mycket lätttillgänglig, och är en blandning av olika stilarter." "en enastående upplevelse"

kulturnytt P1

"musiken är inbjudande och dramatiskt följsam. Här finns strålande körpartier, stilla lyriska delar och explosivitet."

Teater Stockholm

"Visionär och skandalöst förförande"


"Tonsättaren Jonas S Bohlin bygger en egen klangvärld i “Tristessa”, som vilar på en grundton av Hollywood-romantisk skörhet, kryddad med vibrafon, cembalo och suktande brass. Mothers riter kläs i arkaiskt rå minimalism och kulturmannen Zeros övervåld speglas i punkigt studsande rytmer. Bohlin leker med vokalfärgerna hos de två utbytbara huvudpersonerna, Tristessa och Eve/Evelyn, och låter Leilah sjunga sin fåfänga kärlekslängtan under en gatlykta till en smäktande violin."

Med “Tristessa” kliver svensk operakonst in i samtiden i stor skala, och gestaltar det enda som kan rädda mänskligheten och planeten: den smärtsamma process där narcissism blir till äkta kärlek. Angeläget – och vackert.


Kungliga Operans urpremiär har ett fräscht och ungdomligt tilltal.

Loretto Villalobos blir förtjust i den feministiska operan "Tristessa".


Young Tristessa - Soprano

Evelyn - Tenor

Eve - Soprano (the same singer as for Young Tristessa)

Old Tristessa - Tenor (the same singer as for Evelyn)

Mother - Basso

Lilith/Leilah – Coloratura Soprano

Nurse - Soprano

Zero – Baritone

Zero’s seven women – Sopranos and Altos from the choir.

Choir – Mixed Choir


2 flutes plus 1 piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets plus 1 bass clarinet,

2 bassoons plus 1 contrabassoon, 3 horns, 3 trumpets,

2 trombones plus 1 bass trombone, 4 percussion, 1 celeste,

1 harp, 1 harpsichord, strings