The Savonlinna Opera Festival aims to ensure as safe an environment as possible for the summer 2021 festival. Safe distancing will be implemented by cutting the number of spectators at Olavinlinna by almost half. This means losing nearly 2 million euro in ticket income. The summer 2021 programme will go ahead as planned, except the three performances of King Roger, which are cancelled.
“Although July is still some time away and the coronavirus situation will continue to evolve, organising a month-long international festival requires decisions to be made now. The wellbeing of our audience, staff, partners and local residents is paramount,” says General Director Jan Strandholm.
Implementing safe distancing means that the medieval castle of Olavinlinna can only accommodate an audience of approximately 1200 people, rather than the usual 2200.
”Next summer’s tickets have been selling fast. As a result, we’re putting ticket sales on hold for the performances, which would have sold out based on current guidelines. For the remaining performances, we will sell a maximum of 1200 seats. Opera and theatre companies in Finland have done an exemplary job this autumn showing that it’s still safe to enjoy the performing arts,” Strandholm continues.
Concerts may be staged twice – decision to be made in spring
Regarding the nearly sold-out concerts of Karita Mattila and the group Wardruna, the Opera Festival is prepared to stage two concerts on each concert date to ensure safe distancing. Instead of attending one large event, the audience will be divided into two identical smaller concerts. The decision about additional concerts will be made in spring according to the pandemic situation.
If additional concerts are needed, ticket holders will be informed about the performance times and audience allocation for each concert during the spring.
”I feel bad for the audience, the artists, and the entire opera scene.”
The health and safety of the audience, performers and staff must always come first at the Opera Festival. Safe distancing will be ensured with adjustments such as reducing the size of the choir and orchestra in operas, as long as doing so does not compromise performance quality. For next summer’s premiere, King Roger (Król Roger), such a reduction would not be possible, so performances will be cancelled instead:
”It’s the splendour of sound, created by more than 200 performers on the stage and in the orchestra pit, that makes King Roger so magnificent. For King Roger, reducing the number of performers would be too great an artistic compromise,” Artistic Director and conductor Ville Matvejeff explains.
Financial reasons also contributed to the cancellation. Putting together a premiere means creating direction, sets and costumes from scratch as well as extensive rehearsals with the orchestra and choir. This is a considerable financial investment, which is usually funded by ticket income. The safe distancing measures in the auditorium will halve the number of tickets sold, resulting in a 2-million-euro budget deficit. This makes it financially impossible to proceed with such a large-scale opera production as King Roger. Three performances had been planned for the opera.
”I feel bad for the audience, the artists, and the entire international opera scene. King Roger deserved to have its Finnish premiere. As difficult as this decision was to us, we want to ensure the best possible circumstances for such a premiere, and we are now looking into opportunities to stage it later. Thankfully, we can offer alternative productions to ticket holders, such as Werther, Giulio Cesare and La traviata”, says Ville Matvejeff.
The Opera Festival to contact ticket holders for King Roger
The Opera Festival customer service will be in touch with everyone who has bought or reserved tickets for King Roger. Tickets can be exchanged for a performance of another opera, a gift voucher, or a full refund upon request.
We’ll update its policies regarding next summer according to the coronavirus situation and official guidelines from the Finnish government.