stage director - script writer - educator
Erik Söderblom, b.1958 in Helsinki, studied piano and cello since childhood. His father being the Chief Conductor of Finnish National Opera, Erik literally grew up with theatre and opera. After finishing school, he studied philosophy and arts at Helsinki University. Having initiated his theatre studies in London, he went to Munich, where he studied opera directing with August Everding at the Hochshule für Musik. From 1982 to 1985 he conducted the Chamber Strings of Helsinki-ensemble. At the same time, he continued his studies at the Theatre Academy of Helsinki. He graduated from the directors class in 1987.
Between 1988 and 1990 Söderblom was director of Turku City Theatre. In 1990 he – together with a group of young actors, directors, writers and set designers of his generation – started up the Q-teatteri in Helsinki. With this ensemble, he made an acknowledged series of directions of both newly written Finnish texts and classical texts such as Feodor Dostoevsky´s Writings from the cellar, Williams Shakespeare´s Hamlet and Twelfth Night and Leo Tolstoi´s War and Peace. All these productions have been shown on festivals in Finland and abroad. Today Q-teatteri is recognised as one of the artistically leading ensembles in Finland.
Söderblom was chairman of the board and artistic leader of Q-teatteri between 1996-2002.
On his initiative, Q-teatteri founded the Baltic Circle, a network for free theatre groups around the Baltic Sea. Q-teatteri also hosts the important international Baltic Circle theatre festival. Söderblom was the first artistic leader of this festival. Söderblom has directed in theatres around Finland and abroad. One of the best known of his international works is the prize-winning staging of Jouko Turkka´s play Connecting People in Von Krahli-theater in Tallinn.
Alongside his career as drama director, Söderblom has frequently directed on the opera stage. He has created a long row of prize-winning productions like Mozart´s Entführung aus dem Serail and Le Nozze di Figaro at Pori Opera and the huge outdoor performance of Wagner´s Der fliegende human hair uk Holländer in Turku. In recent years his main focus has been opera, and he is considered to be a leading Finnish opera director.
Söderblom has been praised for his directions of contemporary opera. As a trained musician he has the ability to read also intricate new music scores and has directed the world premieres of several Finnish operas such as Tapio Tuomela´s Mothers and Daughters, Lars Karlsson´s Rödhamn and Mikko Heiniö´s The Hour of the Serpent, all at the Finnish National Opera, and´Veli-Matti Puumala´s Anna Liisa during the Helsinki Festival 2008. For the Turku2011- European Capital of Culture, Söderblom directed yet another big scale opera production, the world premiere of Erik XIV by the composer Mikko Heiniö and dramatist Juha Siltanen.
The series of Söderblom´s productions of Mozart´s operas continued during Helsinki Festival l2013 with Don Giovanni. In 2013 Söderblom also staged J.S Bach´s St John´s Passion with Helsinki Baroque Orchestra. For Helsinki Festival he staged a semi-concertante performance of the long-forgotten opera parody Orango by Dmitri Shostakovitsh. In August 2015 he presented as his farewell production as Artistic Director for Helsinki Festival a widely praised semi-staged version of Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck. His most recent music theatre work is a production of Joseph Haydn´s and Carlo Goldoni´s Il Mondo della Luna, which is said to have lifted human hair extensions uk this seldom heard opera into the sphere of comic music theatre masterpieces. His newest opera productions are the modern classic The Horseman by Aulis Sallinen and Paavo Haavikko in Pori and Bizet´s Carmen in Jyväskylä.
Söderblom was CEO and Artistic Director of Helsinki Festival from 2009 up to August 2015, when he left the festival to be able to fully concentrate on his artistic work. During his leadership, Helsinki Festival developed to become not only one of the most prominent festivals of Europe but with its 300.000 annual visitors also the biggest art festival in the Nordic countries.
In 2016 Söderblom was invited to become a member of the Artistic Committee at Tampere Theatre Festival, the most prominent performing arts festival in Finland.
Since August 2017 Söderblom is the Artistic Director of Espoo City Theatre.
Erik Söderblom´s role in Finnish theatre as an important pedagogue is worth mentioning. In 1998 Söderblom founded a famous music theatre class at Turku Polytechnic. From 2001 to 2009 he was a Professor of Acting at the Helsinki Theatre Academy. During the years 2005-2009 he also worked as vice rector for this university.
Photo: Sasa Tkalcan
“Erik Söderblom is perhaps the most brilliant Finnish opera director of our time. His solutions are always functioning, stemming from the inner conditions of the work. They are also lively and spiritual, impressing, funny and startling, and they serve the audience in all possible ways.”
Matti Lehtonen, Turun Sanomat