Aniara: fragments of time and space —2019

ANIARA is a choral-theater work over three years in the making in collaboration with Klockriketeatern and The Crossing. Watch the trailer.

Based on the 1956 novel by Nobel Prize-winner Harry Martinson, ANIARA: fragments of time and space follows the physical and emotional voyage of a group that has left a dying earth; thrown permanently off course, their spaceship is headed toward the constellation Lyra, forever. ANIARA explores our relationship to one another, to Earth, and to the passage of time.

Robert Maggio, composer
Dan Henriksson, librettist

conceived and produced by Donald Nally, Robert Maggio, and Dan Henriksson


Donald Nally, conductor
Dan Henriksson, stage director

Antti Silvennoinen, choreographer

Joonas Tikkanen, stage design
Erika Turunen, costume design
Paul Vasquez, sound design

The Official ANIARA website by The Crossing is HERE   It contains information about the premiere performances, blogs by the creative team, and videos of the production.

Major support for Aniara has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.



Best of Classical in 2019 – The Crossing: Aniara. This lost-in-space story of a ship blown hopelessly off course became the Crossing’s major foray into theater — in a deluxe package in June at the Christ Church Neighborhood House with great computer graphics and programs resembling passports. The piece itself felt conceptually flawed (too little context), but the score by Philadelphia composer Robert Maggio showed just how accomplished he has become in his ability to dramatize most any situation with just the kind of music that’s warranted. And yes, the Grammy-winning Crossing choir knows how to handle itself onstage.

–Philadelphia Inquirer, 19.12.2019

Maggio’s composition is highly-skilled… The music is laden with melancholy and its main feature is a minimalism that fits the small and skillful chamber choir well. At times Maggio swings over to jazz, which the choir adapts to well. As a whole the piece is deeply touching and the staging is thoroughly considered and powerful… Klockriketeatern’s production as well as Maggio’s music absorb the spectator.

–Savon Sanomat, 18.09.2019

a floating, dreamlike audiovisual quality, where the choral performers in white timeless costume, with consistent dramatic or lyric singing, both as a choir and through solos, drive the plot forward.

The music with its genre leaps, containing among other buddhist measures featuring a gong, simply put, feels interesting throughout… this multicultural mix consisting of seventeen fragments about hope and despair, schism and pain, philosophy and existentialism, form a commendable cosmic tale about humankind at a crossroads, as topical today as when it was first published.

–Östnyland Review, 20.9.2019

Within the chosen free tonality and spiritedly eclectic esthetics Maggio shows yet new sides to his musical expression. He reveals himself to be a chameleon of genres that is able to in one moment write for a big gospel choir and in the very next moment explore the stillness of Arvo Pärt or the primitivism found within Beijing Opera (together with effectful dance by Antti Silvennoinen). … Toward the end the sounds are already so advanced that the bitonal chordstacks create close to a cosmic sound, as a work such as this one should.

–Hufvudstadsbladet, 19.9.2019

Aniara … is hard to define in terms of genre. It is hardly an opera as it does not have the traditional dramatic plot that would develop through conflicts between characters. In its repetitiveness it refers to the minimalistic, ritualistic, operatic style of Philip Glass and Michel van der Aan. Their work can often be said to be driven emotionally by a sense of endless melancholy, which is true also of Aniara.

Aniara is not a choral piece either, at least not in the purest sense of the word, because in addition to singing the choir also acts and moves in a way that is quite far fron how a choir traditionally performs, static and stationary. In terms of genre Aniara is something in between, but that does reduce this rich and touching piece of art.

Robert Maggio certainly knows how to write for the choir. And what he writes The Crossing Choir certainly knows how to put into practice. The choir sounds astonishingly well tuned and the singing is meticulous. The result is a sophisticated and coherent sound quality…In Aniara even sharp dissonant sounds sparkle. The Crossing is definitely one of the best choirs I have heard.

–Helsingin Sanomat, 18.9.2019

Aniara – fragments of time and space at the National Opera is a multilayered and poignant experience about existential sorrow and longing in the boundless emptiness of space.

The double Grammy-winning choir performs with breathtaking technical skill that makes the music sound next to otherwordly.

Aniara – fragments of time and space is an eerie tale. It conveys an atmosphere of heavy sorrow for and longing back to a home that has been destroyed, as well as a hope for a new home beyond any reason, even though one senses there is no end to this neverending journey into space.

–YLE – Finnish national broadcasting company, Swedish department, 18.9.2019

Written for SATB choir and an ensemble of cello, guitar, clarinet and two percussion, Maggio’s score is woven together from meditative – perhaps one could say post-minimalist – choral numbers of madrigal-like layered clarity and interlocked instrumental tapestries of absorbing texture and color. Mirroring each other, the vocal and instrumental groups provide the drama with sonic tableaux of vivid evocation and acute commentary.

Rooted in repetition and gradual permutation, each musical number establishes its signature sound, unfolding around its core in focused manner. The dramatic arch is thus wrought of subtle juxtapositions in harmony, mood and texture between the movements – interconnected in chain-like manner – giving rise to fragmentary but not disjointed auditory sequence.

— Jari Kallio, Adventures In Music