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Music / Tarja Turunen

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Tarja Soile Susanna Turunen-Cabuli (born August 17, 1977), generally known as Tarja Turunen or simply Tarja, is a Finnish singer-songwriter. She is a soprano and has a vocal range of over three octaves.

She's best known as the former lead singer of the Finnish Symphonic Power Metal band Nightwish. In 2005, she left the band after receiving an open letter, leading to a public back-and-forth volley between her and the rest of the band. The letter claimed that she had missed too many rehearsals and that her husband influenced her behavior, though she vehemently denies these claims. Both she and her husband have since talked about their side of the story.

Her first solo album, Henkäys Ikuisuudesta, was released in 2006.

Tarja has the unusual distinction of being a female soprano singer for a metal band. Her voice alone led to Nightwish being labeled as "opera metal". "Female-fronted metal" has become a subgenre in part due to the success of Nightwish. In particular she's known to have inspired future Epica vocalist Simone Simons to study classical singing after hearing Tarja sing on Oceanborn.

Finnish President Tarja Halonen called her "the voice of Finland". She is well-known across Europe and has a small yet devoted following in North America. She coached the winners on seasons 4 and 5 of The Voice of Finland.


With Nightwish

  • 1996 - Angels Fall First
  • 1998 - Oceanborn
  • 2000 - Wishmaster
  • 2001 - Over The Hills And Far Away (EP)
  • 2002 - Century Child
  • 2004 - Once


  • 2006 - Henkäys Ikuisuudesta (a Christmas album, only available in Finland)
  • 2007 - My Winter Storm
  • 2010 - What Lies Beneath
  • 2011 - Live At Sibelius Hall (with Harus) — this is a classical album, not metal.
  • 2013 - Colours In The Dark
  • 2016 - The Shadow Self
  • 2017 - From Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas) - An atmospheric/classical Christmas album with a couple of original songs.
  • 2019 - In the Raw

Notable Collaborations

Tarja shows examples of:

  • Broken Record: "Too Many" from The Shadow Self repeats the last chorus fourteen times.
  • Cover Version:
    • "Walking in the Air" in Henkäys Ikuisuudesta (technically a cover of a cover, as Nightwish had performed it for Oceanborn).
    • "Poison", in My Winter Storm.
    • "Still Of The Night", as a bonus of What Lies Beneath.
    • "Darkness" in Colours of the Dark.
    • "House of Wax" and "Goldfinger" in The Brightest Void.
    • "Supremacy" in The Shadow Self.
    • She also sung "Signos" and "Desarma y Sangra" in live concerts.
    • Tarja performs a lot of covers live, ranging from classical pieces to 80's rock medleys and even some Nightwish songs as a Call-Back to her former band. This includes Nightwish's cover of "Over the Hills and Far Away".
  • Genre Mashup: While generally Symphonic Metal, Tarja's solo material shows aplenty of influences from Classical Music, Alternative Metal, Arena Rock, Prog, Pop, Psychedelic Rock, Industrial and even Ambient. Colours in the Dark is especially prominent in its experimental nature, while In the Raw is straight-up Traditional Heavy Metal.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language:
    • "Montañas De Silencio" is sung in Spanish.
    • Most of Henkäys Ikuisuudesta is sung in Finnish. She sings a gorgeous version of "Ave Maria" on this album in German.
    • "Mystique Voyage" is in *four* different languages.
    • On From Spirits and Ghosts, Tarja sings "O Tannenbaum" in the original German, and one verse of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" in Latin.
  • Lighter and Softer: "Underneath", "I Feel Immortal", "Mystique Voyage", "Until Silence", "The Living End" and "Calling Grace" from her solo albums. Live At Sibelius Hall has her singing classical music.
  • Longest Song Goes Last:
    • What Lies Beneath ends with "Crimson Deep" (7:35).
    • Colours In The Dark ends with "Medusa" (8:12).
    • The Brightest Void ends with "Too Many" (7:48, 12:43 if one includes the Hidden Track "Hit Song").
  • One-Woman Wail: Quite possibly the world grandmistress of this, with classical operatic vocalizations a common feature of her songs.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Her speaking voice is fairly harsh with a noticeable Finnish accent. As a singer, she's a classically trained American accent singer who has been described as "American" and, especially nowadays, her accent nearly disappears (it was much thicker earlier in her career, sparking many mishearings of Nightwish songs).
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: It was nigh-impossible early in her career to figure out what she was singing. She got better about that.
  • Supergroup: So far, you have Mike Terrana, Kiko Loureiro, Max Lilja and van Canto accompanying her.
  • Take That!: Tarja responded to her former band's personal attacks in Dark Passion Play with "Enough", which accuses Tuomas Holopainen of being a prima donna who choked her with darkness and couldn't comprehend that her love for her husband Marcelo Cabuli is genuine. They've reconciled somewhat since then: Tarja has spoken approvingly of her replacement Anette Olzon's performances and is friends with Anette's replacement Floor Jansen (which dates to Floor's time with After Forever), and has had guest appearances in her solo career by Floor and, in 2017, by Marco Hietala.
  • We Used to Be Friends: This is pretty much Tarja and the rest of Nightwish. While they all originally seemed tight-knit and were getting a good measure of success after releasing Wishmaster, Century Child and Once, but then after her final performance (End of an Era, ironically), the band released an open letter announcing her termination from the band. There have been multiple stories about the reasons behind the split (the band - Tuomas especially - accusing her of choosing money and her new husband while Tarja and her husband emphatically deny this and say the band - particularly Tuomas - treated her badly), but it seems that nobody will ever know the full story. Tarja has said that she does not regret her time in Nightwish, and indeed she has performed with Marko, praised Anette and has been known to be friends with Floor.
    • In 2022, she mentioned she and Marko had been the closest during her time in the band, as he joined later and was more "neutral", she had been "in touch" with Tuomas (although she had not seen him in person in years) and did not rule out the "very, very hypothetical" potential of getting back together for a reunion tour with Nightwish, as long as the former members (Tuomas, Emppu and Jukka Nevalainen specifically) apologized to her, something she acknowledged was very unlikely.
  • Winter Royal Lady: In the cover art of My Winter Storm.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tarja


Nightwish - "Wishmaster"

"Wishmaster" is inspired by events in the Dragonlance setting for Dungeons & Dragons. The song uses so many fantasy terms in its lyrics that between that and then-lead vocalist Tarja Turunen's accent, it holds the record for "Most-Often-Misunderstood Nightwish Song Ever". From the "End of an Era" DVD, filmed at Helsinki's Hartwall Arena in 2005.

How well does it match the trope?

4.6 (10 votes)

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