by Daníel Bjarnason
Premiere 9. june 2018


Composer Daníel Bjarnason   Libretto Kerstin Perski   Language English   Duration 100 minutes   Breaks

The Icelandic Opera will perform the opera Brothers by the Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason based on Susanne Bier’s film Brothers in June 2018. 

The opera was world-premiered in the Concert Hall Aarhus in August 2017  –  in connection with European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 and the production in Iceland will be the same as in Aarhus.

Brothers will be directed by Kasper Holten, and Steffen Aarfing is the stage designer. The libretto is written by Kerstin Perski (Reumert Prize winner for The Confessional).

The opera is performed in English. Performance time 100 minutes.


The soldiers Micheal and Peter go off to war. Michael says goodbye to his wife Sarah and their daughter, Nadia, and Peter says goodbye to his pregnant wife Anna.

Since their helicopter is shot down by the enemy, Michael and Peter are presumed dead. A memorial service is held for them. The tensions in Michael´s family come to the surface as Michael´s father makes it clear he preferred Michael to the younger brother Jamie, and would rather have had that he had died that Michael.

Jamie wakes Sarah up in the middle of the night, drunk and bleeding after a fight.  Sarah, reluctant at first, helps him clean the wound. They argue fiercely, then proceed to hare their grief for Michael. They embrace, holding on to each other like two drowning people.

But Michael has in fact survived the crash and returns. Anna, who has now given birth, hopes this means Peter might also return. Michael´s Cononel talks to him and asks him about the other missing soldiers. Michael claims he didn´t see any other survivors, as he was held captive by the enemy.

Michael seems alienated and finds it hard to adjust to everyday life. Nadia complains to her mother about her father´s strange behaviour. Jamie helps to fix Nadia´s swing, and it is clear he has become close to Sarah. Michael expresses jealousy and anger towards Jamie and Sarah, and he reacts violently when Nadia doesn´t obey him.

After losing control once again and bursting out at Sarah, Michael tries to confess to the Colonel that he saw Peter alive, but the Colonel asks him to keep silent and stop tormenting himself. Simultaneously, Sarah turns up at Jamie´s place. They long for each other.

At Nadia´s birthday party, Michael finally blows up completely. He leaves to look for Anna, but can´t bring himself to confess what happened to Peter before he himself was rescued. As Michael returns to the party, he sees Peter´s ghost, and finally relieves and confesses everything that happened: how he was forced to kill Peter in order to save himself. 



  • Brothers


Marie Arnet
Jamie, Michael´s brother
Elmar Gilbertsson
Anna, Peter´s wife
Þóra Einarsdóttir
James Laing
The Father
Jakob Zethner
The Colonel
Paul Carey Jones

Artistic directors

Stage Director
Kasper Holten
Music Director
Daníel Bjarnason
Set Designer
Steffen Aarfing
Lighting Designer
Ellen Ruge
Signe Krogh
Assistant Stage Director
Amy Lane