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Jasper Leppänen: One of the biggest tragedies of human history

“If I had to choose one story to be told right now, this would be the one. As horrible and dark as it is, I feel there is so much to learn.”

Millions of people and animals were affected by the actions of a handful. Thousands of deaths and immeasurable consequences lasting for decades. This is the setting of All the truths we cannot see. The nuclear accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant sets the stage for one of the biggest dramas, the biggest tragedies, of recent history. An event so impactful that its effects are still being felt some 34 years later. This will be a truly grand opera.

So how does it feel to be part of such a production? How does it feel being involved in telling this story in the language of opera? If I had to choose one story to be told right now, this would be the one. As horrible and dark as it is, I feel there is so much to learn. What really caused it? How is it possible that such an event as this occurred? And would it be possible that something like this happened again? Important lessons that I feel we are very talented at forgetting.

What I want is to tell impactful stories of importance. Stories of human stupidity and the points of time where our society most failed us. That’s where we can find some parts of the truth about ourselves. I was born one year after the Soviet Union fell, and I can never fully understand the events of the 20th century in general, the world wars and everything that was to follow.

For me some idea of co-existing has always been a part of my life. I have no reason to try to pretend that our nation is superior to any other. I love my homeland and am extremely proud of so much about it. Still, I fail to see how this would correlate to hatred and aggression against other nations. For me, this is what Chernobyl was all about. It’s not a story of one deputy chief engineer, the workers at the plant, or even one politician. It’s a story of the greed that caused the entire arms race. Greed that was responsible for the cheaply produced nuclear rods that no one believed could cause an explosion – but under hurry and mishandling did. Greed that has and still is controlling our politics, our economy, and is still causing terrible repercussions. We are simple beings with far too powerful weapons at our disposal. That is what this story is about.

On stage we will see the ground level of these events. People and animals in their own “balance of terror”, where irrational decisions are being made and lives are at stake. Without the context you could simply judge the ones directly in charge and leave it at that. And in fact, that’s exactly what they did in the courtroom during the aftermath of this disaster.

Jasper Leppänen
The author plays the parts of Hare, Kuzma, Oleg, and town cryer in the opera All the Truths We Cannot See – A Chernobyl Story.

All the truths we cannot see – a Chernobyl story

All the Truths We Cannot See: A Chernobyl Story is an opera by Uljas Pulkkis and Glenda D. Goss. It is produced as a collaboration between Uniarts Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy and the USC Thornton School of Music. Students from these institutions join forces in an opera production, which will premiere in Helsinki on 15 March 2022. The American premiere will take place in Los Angeles on 21 April 2022. 

All the Truths We Cannot See: A Chernobyl Story explores the explosion that happened at a power plant in Chernobyl, Soviet Union in 1986, as well as its reasons and consequences.

This blog reveals the background stories and people behind this project and also represents some expert articles discussing the relation between opera and the environment.

Read more about the All the Truths We Cannot See: A Chernobyl Story opera

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