The Parson of Reigi (Reigi õpetaja)

  • Music
  • The Small Building of Vanemuine Theatre
  • Length: 02:05

Opera in two acts

Initially ordered by Theatre Estonia “The Parson of Reigi” started its complicated journey in 1971. The first libretto version was written already in 1938 by Aino Kallas, based on her novel, the composer was meant to be Evald Aav. Due to his death the whole endeavour was left unfinished. In 1970 the libretto was renewed by Jaan Kross.
The production didn’t get a green light from the government officials until 1979, when Kaarel Ird got permission for Vanemuine directly from Moscow. Unfortunately only four performances were given. In Theatre Estonia the opera was finally staged in 1988 by Arne Mikk, Musical Director and Conductor Paul Mägi.
The opera in two acts is set in the year 1642 in Hiiumaa in the Reigi Village and also in Tallinn. The main character is the parson of Reigi called Paavali Lempelius and his young wife Catharina, who falls in love with a deacon Jonas Kempe from Stockholm. There are rumours in the village that Kempe has been banished from Stockholm because he made the local parson’s wife fall in love with him using witchcraft. Kempe is once again accused of black magic, this time by Lempelius. The lovers escape, but they are caught and executed on the Tallinn City Square, found guilty of adultery.

Roman Baskin has discreetly added naturalness and psychological depth to the rather clear-cut characters (including the supporting roles) created by Tubin. On the one hand this way the main characters who are deserving of more attention are highlighted, but on the other hand a nice balance is maintained between them and the supporting characters. The troupe is characterised by its convincing and integrated ensemble performance. This turns out to be surprisingly important so that the inner force of the main characters (especially Zahharov) can find resonance both on stage and among the audience. This is an excellent example of how important it is to unite the troupe into a whole that breathes together and is motivated to achieve a common goal.

Mihkel Truman, news portal


Jassi Zahharov was presented with the 2015 music award of the Estonian Theatre Union for his world-class vocal and stage performance as Paavali Lempelius in Tubin’s opera The Parson of Reigi.


Premiere: April 4, 2014 at Vanemuine Small Building

In Estonian with English surtitles


Composer Eduard Tubin
Musical director & conductor Paul Mägi
Conductor Taavi Kull
Director Roman Baskin
Scenographer Iir Hermeliin
Costume designer Kristel Maamägi
Choreographer Janek Savolainen
Lighting designer Margus Vaigur (Endla Theatre)

Cast Jassi Zahharov (Estonian National Opera), Karmen Puis, Mati Turi, Pirjo Jonas, Annaliisa Pillak, Valentina Kremen, Merle Silmato (Finnish National Opera), Rasmus Kull, Jaan Willem Sibul, Simo Breede et al.