Children of Ginko – Preview at NOW Festival

A China-Norway children’s opera about the superpowers of seeds

Concept: Tor Smaaland, Katharina Jakhelln Semb

Music: Marcus Paus
Libretto: Oda Fiskum
Director: Katharina Jakhelln Semb
Co-director: Wu Min
Stage and costume design: Yngvar julin
Multimedia: Feng Jiangzhou and Zhang Lin (Sifenlv New Media Studio Beijing)
Dramaturg: Inger Buresund
Artistic Consultant: Forrina Chen
Botanical advisor: Tor Smaaland
Translation Norwegian to Chinese: Shubo Li

Production: Ibsen International, General Manager Gry Wie
Artistic Producer: Inger Buresund
Executive Producers: Ibsen International, Fabrizio Massini, The A.S.K., Jane Zhou

Music commissioned by: The Arctic Philarmonic
Supported by: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


In a near future, The Big Sleep has frozen the world into a desert of ice. But not all is sleeping…

In a well-hidden sanctuary, The Governess and The Gardener keep little seed-children safe from the dark Helpful, who roam the earth for seeds to steal, exploit, and destroy.

In the Seed Box, the two sisters Rhynia and Wollemia hide themselves and their powers. One night they escape to go on a Mission to wake the planet from The Big Sleep. The Gardener has revealed to them that the key to all salvation is the union of two Gingko seeds.


They need the advice of Mother Forest and the Mycorrhiza network, that carries coded messages between every root and plant in the whole world.But someone is listening to the whispering. Dark shadows lurk close…

Will The Helpful stand in the sisters way of saving the planet?

The Hunt for The Ginkgo has began…




The world’s first opera for young audience, inspired by the World Seeds Vault

Reveal the power of nature and celebrate children’s courage in growing up

Promote ecological conscience in a fun, hands-on approach

Developed from Ibsen International’s global art project “The Seed”



In a year ridded with anxiety and uncertainty, the Chinese coproducer of “Children of Ginko”, The A.S.K. (Art Space for Kids) decided to launch a brave initiative: The “NOW” Festival, the first international Theatre for Young Audience festival and fair in China. Claiming that “the pandemic has brought enormous changes to the daily lives of us all (…) live performances and festivals are suspended, while we are living in the history’s every moment and appreciating that ‘no man is an island'”.

Norway was the guest country of the 1st edition of NOW Festival. The Norway Focus, organized with the support of the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Shanghai and in collaboration with PAHN (Performing Arts Hub Norway), included a showcase of 7 production by Norwegian companies.


A short excerpt of “Children of Ginko” was presented for the occasion, to give a taste of the wonderful music and intriguing visuailty of the performance premiering within 1 week. The excerpt was introduced by video messages sent by the Norwegian team members and the Deputy Consul General, Hedda Himle Skandsen, introduced to the audience the very first inspiration for the play: the Global Seeds Vault based in Svalbard.