In their home country, Finland, the popular white Moomin characters are everywhere: on television, mugs, wallpaper and bedding. They have a theme park and a museum, and even adorn airplanes of the national carrier. Now the hippopotamus-like characters and their friends_Sniff, Snufkin, Snork Maiden and Hattifatteners from the fictional Moominvalley — are dancing a pas de deux. On March 6, a nearly two-hour ballet opened at Finland’s National Opera, entitled “Moomin and the Comet.”
The show is based on Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson’s book from 1946. “There was the possibility to make a real classical ballet,” choreographer Anandah Kononen said. Jansson’s story about a perilous journey to a mountaintop observatory in the wake of an approaching comet that could destroy Moomin Valley “had all the elements for a great drama: an adventure, love, and an impending catastrophe.”
Her book “Comet in Moominland” was published just after World War II that had ruined Finland, even though it had remained independent. For Kononen, the story of love and family within this context of impending destruction was essential to keep.
However, turning the Moomins into a ballet was challenging and those playing the Moomin characters wear oddly-shaped, cottony suits with limited vision. “The hole they are looking through is quite small and they have a screen underneath,” American dancer Kailey Kaba told The Associated Press.
Jansson, who died in 2001, penned nine stories, five picture books and a comic strip about the Moomins, a family of roundish characters with large snouts who embark on adventures with their friends. Her books have been turned into TV series and feature-length movies, including German marionette shows, Soviet stop motion films and Japanese productions.
The two-hour ballet is for everyone from the age of four and up, according to the theater. Tickets, which cost €42 ($44), are sold out for regular shows, but the Opera House promises more performances later in May.