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Every year since 1978 the Savonlinna Opera Festival has elected an Artist of the Year. The idea was originally to spotlight an artist of international repute giving concerts during the Festival.

In 1981 the criteria for choosing the Artist of the Year were amended, and from then onwards the emphasis was on artists who had made successful solo appearances at the Festival or who had in some other way contributed to the success of the Festival. Since 2008 the focus has mainly been on selecting an outstanding young talent.

1978   Emil Gilels
1979   Arto Noras
1980   Ralf Gothóni
1981   Joonas Kokkonen
1982   Martti Talvela
1983   Ulf Söderblom
1984   Aulis Sallinen
1985   Matti Lehtinen
1986   Jorma Hynninen
1987   Savonlinnan Oopperajuhlakuoro ja sen johtaja Kyösti  Haatanen  /
            The Savonlinna Opera Festival Choir and its conductor Kyösti Haatanen
1988   Matti Salminen
1989   Savonlinnan Oopperajuhlaorkesteri / The Savonlinna Opera Festival  Orchestra   
1990   Jorma Falck
1991   Lilli Markkanen
1992   August Everding
1993   Tom Krause
1994   Jaakko Ryhänen
1995   Leif Segerstam 
1996   Raimo Sirkiä
1997   Jorma Silvasti
1998   Anneli Qveflander
1999   Hannu Niemelä
2000   Esa Ruuttunen
2001   Ralf Långbacka
2002   Ritva Auvinen
2003   Taru Valjakka
2004   Mikko-Ville Luolajan-Mikkola
2005   Markus Lehtinen
2006   Cynthia Makris
2007   Monica Groop
2008   Mika Kares
2009   Eglise Gutiérrez
2010   Kristin Lewis
2011  Juha Uusitalo 

2012   Leena Astikainen & The Savonlinna Opera Festival Children´s Choir

2014   Ville Rusanen