Op. 8 Ödlan (The Lizard)
Music for Mikael Lybeck's play of the same name. Completed in 1909; first performance at the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki, 6th April 1910 (conducted by Jean Sibelius).
Mikael Lybeck's play inspired Sibelius with its dreamlike atmosphere, and he started to write music for it in June 1909. The principal character in the play, Count Alban, is a sensitive dreamer. He is engaged to Elisiv, who represents everything that is pure. The lovers linger in the "pure" world of music. Adla in her lizard dress symbolises evil and arouses both fear and passion in Alban. Elisiv and Adla both struggle to keep Alban's soul on their side. Elisiv perishes in the struggle, but in revenge, Alban kills the evil that exists within himself - i.e. Adla.
Sibelius was especially interested in Elisiv's dream visions. "In the dream sequence I can give my musical inventiveness free hand," he wrote. As a result he wrote extremely interesting music which anticipated the fourth symphony and even Tapiola. The score contains 33 pages. It is written for a string orchestra, which, according to the composer, requires no more than nine musicians.
The music for Ödlan has been performed only very rarely. According to Erik Tawaststjerna this may partly be due to the fact that the music seems too closely connected with the stage action to be suitable for a concert performance. The score was printed in 1994, and one could anticipate that the number of performances will increase in the 21st century. The music is interesting and easy to perform, for example with the nine string players mentioned by the composer.