The New Old Nick of Hellsbottom (Põrgupõhja uus Vanapagan)

The New Old Nick of Hellsbottom (Põrgupõhja uus Vanapagan)

An opera in three acts with one intermission

One day, a man called Jürka moves to Hellsbottom farm with his wife Lisette. He is a peculiar man who has brought along no animals or tools and seems to have no understanding of a farmer’s life, but he has a firm goal: he wishes to earn salvation. He steadfastly claims that he is Old Nick and that St. Peter sent him on Earth. Here, the writer Anton Hansen Tammsaare turns the story of Cunning Ants and Old Nick – a tale familiar to every Estonian from our recent mythology –  upside down, and thus begins an allegorical and multi-layered account of a naive but mystical Jürka who is seemingly tricked by the scoundrel farmer Cunning Ants.

Tammsaare himself commented on his novel as follows: “Yes, maybe it initially seems to you that the author of this book is crazy, but reading on you will discover that its reader is crazy instead. And if you still keep reading, it should become clear that the whole world is crazy.”

Composer Ardo Ran Varres: “Tammsaare views his characters with bitter humour. It seems as if the author is sarcastic towards all human characteristics but love. The novel seems more topical day by day and shows how the processes that take place in society are repetitive by nature. Today I would really like to scream: “The world has gone crazy!” 


Premiere May 6th 2022 at the Small Building of the Vanemuine Theatre

Performed in: Estonian
Surtitles: Estonian, English

Libretto by Kristi Klopets
based on A. H. Tammsaare’s book


Composer Ardo Ran Varres
Musical Director & Conductor Risto Joost
Conductors Martin Sildos, Taavi Kull
Director Vilppu Kiljunen Finland
Set Designer Iir Hermeliin
Lighting Designer Anton Kulagin
Video Designer Juho Porila
Director’s Assistant Kädi Jakobson
Chorus Masters Piret Talts, Aleksandr Bražnik, Kristi Jagodin
Chorus Rehearsal Pianist Katrin Nuume
Rehearsal Pianists Margus Riimaa, Piia Paemurru


Cast Koit Soasepp Finnish NO or Priit Volmer Estonian NO, Rasmus Kull, Karmen Puis, Annaliisa Pillak guest, Taavi Tampuu guest, Simo Breede, Pirjo Jonas, Grete Oolberg, Atlan Karp guest et al.

Vanemuine Opera Chorus and Symphony Orchestra