Hynninen, 71, told the newspaper Aamulehti that his last performance will be next year. Beginning in February, he will play the title role in a new Finnish one-man opera, Akseli, about the celebrated artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela -- a role that was written specifically for him. Akseli has been composed by Kimmo Hakola with a libretto by Pekka Hako.
Hynninen is to perform the one-and-a-half hour work eight times at Helsinki's Ateneum Art Museum, backed by a chamber orchestra.
The singer, himself an amateur painter, told Aamulehti: "Gallen-Kallela has been an idol of mine since I was a boy. He inspired me to begin drawing."
Though he did not have time to paint during his active career, Hynninen took up the hobby again last year after nearly 30 years.
Hynninen's career was launched in 1969 when he won the Lappeenranta Song Competition and then soon debuted with the Finnish National Opera.
International stardom and domestic strife
By the mid-80s, he was much in demand as an international performer, singing at Milan's La Scala, New York's Metropolitan Opera House and the Vienna Opera, along with opera houses in Paris, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Barcelona and Geneva.
In 1984 he was named artistic director of the Finnish National Opera, which he led until 1990. Soon after this he became artistic director of the Savonlinna Opera Festival.
Hynninen gained international acclaim for roles in operas by Wagner, Mozart, Debussy, Tchaikovsky and Verdi. He also originated the title roles of major operas by contemporary Finnish composers Einojuhani Rautavaara and Aulis Sallinen.
Earlier this year, Hynninen made headlines with an authorised biography penned by Akseli librettist Pekka Hako. In the book, Hynninen described how his family life suffering during the peak years of his international success, and his son's death due to complications from HIV.
Hynninen, who performed a recital at a Tampere church this week, has promised to the city to sing Bach's St Matthew Passion next spring, which may well be his last public performance.
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