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NOTE! On Sunday 23rd of June Artipelag closes at 3 p.m.

Karolinas Sleep

Date 4–June 9, 2012

Karolina’s Sleep – with music by Anders Eliasson and text by Bengt Emil Johnson – is commissioned by the Royal Opera in cooperation with Artipelag.

The opera, which consists of one act, will premiere at the opening ceremony of Artipelag and will be performed in Artipelag’s Artbox.

Music: Anders Elisasson
Text: Bengt Emil Johnson
Conductor: Daniel Blendulf
Director: Christina Ouzounidis
Soloist: Lena Hoel
Royal Orchestra


Book and purchase your tickets at the Royal Opera’s website.


When Karolina Olsson from Oknö woke up one morning in 1908, she had slept very well – not one night but for 32 years! She wakens just before her 47th birthday, and feels refreshed and fit. What had happened? What strange force had placed her in this exceptional state?

On Christmas 1875 when she was 14 years old, she was walking out on the ice when she got a toothache. She went home, lay down to rest, and fell into a 32-year sleep. How can one understand or explain the exclusion from everyday life? Could the toothache have been the only cause? Was she in actual fact a sham? If so, why? She must have had some form of consciousness all these years. What had she experienced as she lay there? What did her next of kin – her mother – think of her? What did she know about how her daughter had experienced her childhood – was there something that she had reason to try to hide? An indescribable betrayal? A psychological crisis?

The idea for the project come from soprano Lena Hoel, who first learned of Karolina’s Sleep when she saw an exhibition of glass by artist Beril Vallien, of life-size glass sculpture. Vallien had read about Karolina in an old newspaper article and created the ”enclosed” figures. The story of the young woman was easy to associate to the static frozen world of glass. Would it be possible to portray Karolina’s long sleep in an opera?

With Vallien’s glass art as the premise for the stage set, Lena turned to composer Anders Eliasson and author Bengt Emil Johnson in the confidence that they could give words and tone to the two people acting in the room of glass: the mother and the daughter. Discussions with the Royal Opera began quickly to find a suitable venue. In connection with the opening celebration of Artipelag, the premiere of Karolina’s Sleep will be performed.

Two works by glass artist Bertil Vallien will be on display, in conjunction with Karolina’s Sleep.