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New Artistic Director Ville Matvejeff publishes his first repertoire

In summer 2020 the medieval castle of Savonlinna by Lake Saimaa will once again be host to a fascinating array of opera. The repertoire will include King Roger, which has seen a surge in popularity around the world, Handel’s baroque opera for the first time in the history of the festival, Finnish star soprano Karita Mattila’s birthday gala, and the beloved classics Carmen, La traviata and The Barber of Seville. These will be complemented by visiting productions by Croatian National Theatre from Rijeka, the European Capital of Culture. Ticket sales for Savonlinna Opera Festival 2020 will commence on Friday 14 June, 2019.

Ville Matvejeff, who is taking over as the Artistic Director of Savonlinna Opera Festival, plans to revitalise the festival tradition:

– I’ve curated a showcase of the most interesting artist personalities I could find, and I want to illustrate the latest rising trends. Savonlinna Opera Festival is international and cutting edge, with a strong focus on the talents of the new generation. Nevertheless, I want to preserve the unique atmosphere and high standards of the Opera Festival, Matvejeff says.

An unquestionable highlight of summer 2020 will be the Finnish premiere of Karol Szymanowski’s 1920s composition King Roger. The opera, which has lately experienced a renaissance everywhere from London Covent Garden to Boston and Stockholm, will be directed by the rising conductor talent Krystian Lada, who recently won the Mortier Next Generation Award in Belgium. Fredrik Zetterström, Helena Juntunen, Sam Furness and Karol Kozłowski will be seen in the lead roles.

Tenor Amadi Lagha, who was applauded so rapturously in Turandot in summer 2018 that he repeated his aria twice, is returning to Olavinlinna as Don José in Carmen. The passionate female lead will be performed by Swiss-born, multi-award-winning Ève-Maud Hubeaux and Tuija Knihtilä. The Opera Festival’s cherished version of Carmen is set in 1930s Spain, while Mariusz Treliński’spsychological interpretation of La traviata will be reimagined in a nightclub. Prizewinning Swedish soprano Ida Falk Winland, among others, will sing the role of Violetta, and the performances will be conducted by the young Finnish talent Eva Ollikainen.

This year’s entertaining opera spectacle, The Barber of Seville, will return in summer 2020 with a fresh cast of soloists. Annalisa Stroppa will sing her favourite role as Rosina, courted by Tuomas Katajala. The director, Evelino Pidò, is a genuine specialist of Italian opera.

Croatian National Theatre from Rijeka will bring two rare opera treats to the Opera Festival. Julius Caesar, considered one of Handel’s best works, is the first opera by Handel in the history of the festival. Jules Massenet’s delicate Werther will be directed by the leading influencer of American opera, Fabrizio Melano, and conducted by the visionary Yordan Kamdzhalov. The visiting productions will also feature the Croatian National Theatre Opera Orchestra.

Ville Matvejeff himself will conduct the performances of King Roger and Julius Caesar.