”After two silent summers, we want to offer our audience the very best. Our repertoire features a new Aida, Tosca, and Carmen,” says Artistic Director Ville Matvejeff. Aida will be directed by Philipp Himmelmann from Germany, who has promised an intimate yet spectacular interpretation of the opera classic. Tickets will be available to the general public from the start of July, but ticket holders for summer 2021 performances can already move their reservations to next year’s festival. The Savonlinna Opera Festival will take place from 1 to 31 July 2022.
”Aida must be retold, because the world has changed irrevocably,” says the German director Philipp Himmelmann. The summer 2022 premiere at the Savonlinna Opera Festival is as mythical and visually spectacular as it is intimate and relatable.
”In the aftermath of a global pandemic, we’re seeing Aida in a new light. We, too, have now been through this woman’s experience of isolation in a world overshadowed by insecurity and confusion,” Philipp Himmelmann says. The sought-after director’s work has not only been performed in Europe’s leading opera venues, but his Tosca was also a key part of the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
Adina Aaron and Helena Juntunen will alternate in Aida’s title role. Aaron, an American soprano, was considered one of the world’s most convincing young Aidas when she first sang at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 2008. Now she returns to the role, having built her career in a multitude of high-profile engagements.
The Uruguayan Gaston Rivero, seen in Madama Butterfly in 2018, will sing the role of Radamès. The other leading roles will be performed by Ève-Maud Hubeaux, Agnieszka Rehlis, Timo Riihonen and Tommi Hakala.
Aida has a special place in the history of the Savonlinna Opera Festival. The previous version directed by András Mikó from Hungary was first seen at Olavinlinna in 1986. The opera also plays a small yet crucial role in each festival performance, as the melody of a trumpet fanfare from Aida calls for the audience to take their seats, echoing across the lakeside and Savonlinna city centre every evening. ”It was almost an absolutely necessity to open next year’s festival with a new Aida, after two years of the coronavirus pandemic. The stars of opera will shine bright again,” Ville Matvejeff says.
Ludovic Tézier, the world’s best Scarpia
The French baritone Ludovic Tézier is considered one of today’s best interpreters of Verdi. He is especially renowned for his performance of the unscrupulous chief of police Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca, the very role which he will sing at the Opera Festival. Besides Tosca, he will delight festival-goers with a recital together with soprano Cassandre Berthon.
Tosca directed by Keith Warner is the Savonlinna Opera Festival’s own production, which was last seen at Olavinlinna a full seven years ago. Miina-Liisa Värelä, said to be on the very cusp of a stellar international career, will sing the title role. She will be paired with tenor Matthew Polenzani, a regular guest of the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, and the Bavarian State Opera, who is making his debut as Cavaradossi.
Carmen’s cast will comprise Tuija Knihtilä, Amadi Lagha, Marjukka Tepponen and Annika Leino, the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World winner Andrei Kymach, and the Polish bass-baritone Łukasz Goliński. Along with leading international names, the list of 2022 soloists at Olavinlinna contains exceptionally many promising singers from the new generation, who are about to make their international breakthrough.
Visiting conductors will include the connoisseur of Italian opera repertoire, Carlo Montanaro for Tosca and Ramón Tebar for Carmen. The conductor for Aida will be announced later.
Baroque opera and carnivalesque entertainment
The visiting opera company for the 2022 festival remains the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka, which was already due to visit Savonlinna in 2020 and 2021. Giulio Cesare in Egitto stays in the repertoire as planned for the previous years, but the second visiting performance is brand new. Two carnivalesque one-act operas from 1910s Italy will be performed in one evening: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Busoni’s Arlecchino.
Giulio Cesare in Egitto, a fast-paced tragicomedy, is a rare treat at the Opera Festival. It is one of the few baroque operas and the first ever baroque opera by Handel to be showcased in Savonlinna.
The visiting performances of Giulio Cesare in Egitto and Arlecchino will be directed by Marin Blažević, the artistic director of the Opera Company of Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka. The legendary Fabrizio Melano, known for his long-standing relationship with the Metropolitan Opera, will direct Gianni Schicchi. Ville Matvejeff will lead the orchestra in Giulio Cesare in Egitto, while the performances of Arlecchino & Gianni Schicchi will be conducted by Valentin Egel.
Tickets to the cancelled performances of summer 2021 can already be moved to next year
We will reach out to all ticket holders. This summer’s ticket reservations will remain valid and can be moved to any performance next year, even before sales for the new repertoire start for the general public on 1 July.
”Our customers have been tremendously patient and understood the challenges we’re facing. That has been truly heart-warming. Now more than ever, we want to serve each ticket holder personally and ensure they can be the first to reserve tickets to the much-anticipated performances of summer 2022. We have a magnificent repertoire in store. I also hope that as many people as possible can move their ticket reservations to next year. That would make a huge financial difference to the future of the Opera Festival,” General Director Jan Strandholm says.
This year, the Savonlinna Opera Festival has had to give up on opera performances due to the ongoing pandemic situation and the uncertainties over large events. Summer 2021 will feature four concerts and the Timo Mustakallio Singing Competition for talented young singers.
Opera performances postponed by another year – concerts and singing competition will go ahead this summer
The pandemic outlook for this July is still so uncertain that opera performances and the orchestral galas with Karita Mattila will be cancelled. Other concerts and the national Timo Mustakallio Singing Competition will go ahead as planned. Please see here for further information.