Photo by Julia Virtanen

Kaunotar & Kulkuri: Tarja Turunen live at Kulttuuritalo, Helsinki 02.05.

Author John Wins - 9.5.2023

It was a normal Tuesday night, but inside the Kulttuuritalo in the capital, Helsinki, the audience was patiently waiting for the event to begin. The show Kaunotar & Kulkuri, which features soprano Tarja Turunen, a well-known voice in symphonic metal, and tenor Pentti Hietanen, presents classical versions of hits from the duo’s careers and well-known covers.

The show was divided into individual performances and duets. The audience was formed mostly by older fans of classical music, totally different from the typical metal audience at the shows of the vocalist with her solo career.

Five musicians formed the instrumental band that perfectly performed each version of each song. Pentti is already a well-known singer for his operatic career, and after two songs, it was time to call Tarja to bring light to the stage with her usual charisma and joy. In the first act, a song in Spanish, followed by a duet in Italian for Cinema Paradiso (se), which just shows how Tarja belongs to classical music with the same respect and quality that she inhabits in the metal universe.

In a brief return after another round of the tenor, an interpretation in his mother tongue for Satumaa and a new duet, this time for the iconic “Con te partirò”. The lights in the venue do not add anything to the event, which is a shame as they would further enhance the beauty of the show.

After a new solo performance by Pentti, the frontwoman returns wearing a red dress to deliver an emotional rendition of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. Tarja’s ties with Argentina are very strong, as she has resided in the country for some years.

In the midst of covers and classics from the Nightwish era, Tarja still managed to fit in Our Great Divide, which is an important song of the vocalist’s solo career, which started 16 years ago. Still talking about her former band, Tarja presented an unbelievable version for Sleeping Sun. Magical, dazzling, and mesmerizing. After so many years, the vocalist still delivers a perfect version of this song, which is a landmark in Finnish music.

The last return of the soprano happens after a few more songs by the tenor, and this time Tarja wears casual clothes in a more rock style, showing her versatility as a master of two styles at the same time.

The duets for two well-known covers by Turunen’s former band fit like a glove at the end of the night. Over the Hills and Far Away by Gary Moore, immortalized in the voice of the vocalist in the version that his ex-band recorded in 2001, and The Phantom of the Opera, recorded in 2002 on the Century Child album, bring energetic and captivating performances from the two vocalists.

The final duet and last performance of the night takes place with a cover of Toivotaan, toivotaan, which brings applause and smiles from everyone present. After saying goodbye and waving to the audience, Tarja leaves the stage with her usual energy and joy.

It’s interesting to do a mental exercise and imagine how that night could have been something routine in her career, if the invitation to Nightwish hadn’t happened. Tarja was studying to build a career in classical music when her life changed with an invitation in the mid-90s. Back to 2023, more than 25 years later, Kaunotar & Kulkuri is a tour where we can witness Tarja Turunen in her most complete version: happy and making art that unites the best that exists in each world that inhabits her.