Brothers - the opera

The Danish National Opera will be performing a new opera based on Susanne Bier’s film Brothers in 2017. The performance is part of the Concert Hall Aarhus’s Bier series, in which the acclaimed Danish film trilogy will be transformed – in connection with European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 – into theatrical art: Brothers as an opera, After the Wedding as a music theatre piece, and Open Hearts as modern dance.

The new Danish opera will be directed by Kasper Holten, and Steffen Aarfing will create the stage design. The composer is the Danish-born Icelander Daníel Bjarnason and the librettist is Kerstin Perski (Reumert Prize winner for The Confessional).

The film Brothers is the story of two brothers and a love triangle. Michael has a successful career in the army, a beautiful wife and two daughters. His younger brother Jannik is a drifter living on the edge of the law. When Michael is sent on a UN mission to Afghanistan and returns after a traumatic imprisonment, the balance between the two brothers is changed forever.


"Kasper Holten's take on Susanne Bier's psychological drama is a compelling adaptation. Expect high drama and moments of happiness, but mostly sadness and hard-hitting scenes. The story is one of war and love, and given its contemporary nature one we can easily relate, allowing you to feel closer as an audience."

"And the music. Created by Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason, the score is magnificent. The music completely transports you to another universe with its movie soundtrack style."







Fyns Stiftstidende

Nordjyske Stiftstidende



Morten Hede


Photo gallery


Read the full libretto for 'Brothers' here.

International cast

International singers join the cast for The Danish National Opera's performance of Susanne Bier’s film Brothers.  

The singers are:

Jacques Imbrailo / Michael
Marie Arnet / Sarah (Michaels wife)
Selma Buch Ørum Villumsen / Nadia (Michael og Sarah's daughter)
Joel Annmo / Jamie (Michaels brother)
James Laing / Peter (Michaels fellow soldier)
Dénise Beck / Anna (Peters wife)
Olafur Sigurdarson / The Colonel 
Jakob Christian Zethner / The Father (Michael and Jamies father)
Anne Margrethe Dahl / The Mother (Michael and Jamies mother).

Interview with director Kasper Holten

In this clip you can see video footage from the rehearsals and meet director Kasper Holten. In this exclusive interview (in Danish) he talks about the project and why he has chosen to direct 'Brothers'.



Pictures from the first day of rehearsals


On Monday 20 March director Kasper Holten and the rest of the artistic team met with the singers for the first time. Here are a few pictures from the day.

Director Kasper Holten


“I’m really enthusiastic that the first job I am taking on as a freelance director after my time as Director of Opera at Covent Garden in the spring of 2017 will be with the Danish National Opera”, says Kasper Holten and continues: “This was where I staged my first major operas, and I still remember it as one of my first ‘artistic homes’. I am greatly looking forward to coming back to the Danish National Opera and not least to this exciting project as part of Euro­pean Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017. I have always had a special fondness for participating in the deve­lop­ment of brand new operas. The libretto for Brothers seems to me to be one of the best new opera librettos I have ever read. I sat on a plane with tears running down my cheeks and knew that I had to say yes. With the innovative and funky musical universe that Daníel Bjarnason stands for, I hope that together we can make Brothers into an intense, unique experience for the audience.”


New opera: Brothers
Based on Susanne Bier's movie Brødre (2004)

The team behind
Composer: Daníel Bjarnason
Conductor: André de Ridder
Libretto: Kerstin Perski
Director: Kasper Holten
Set designer: Steffen Aarfing
Lightning designer: Ellen Ruge
Videodesigner: Signe Krogh

The cast
Michael: Jacques Imbrailo
Sarah: Marie Arnet
Jamie: Joel Annmo
Peter: James Laing
Anna: Dénice Beck
The Colonel: Olafur Sigurdarson
The Father: Jakob Christian Zethner
The Mother: Anne Magrethe Dahl
Nadia: Selma Buch Ørum Villumsen

Danish National Opera Chorus

Aarhus Symfoni Orchestra

Download fact sheet


Venue: Musikhuset Aarhus
August, 2017

16. August 2017
7.30 pm
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18. August 2017
7.30 pm
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20. August 2017
3.00 pm
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22. August 2017
7.30 pm
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Aarhus European Capital of Culture 2017

Read more about Aarhus 2017 here.