An opera festival in the Finnish summer is an opportunity to enjoy not only high-quality opera performances but also wonderfully light July nights and Nordic nature. The small town of Savonlinna is full of life in July. The medieval Olavinlinna castle on the shore of the famous Lake Saimaa plays host to the festival, which can be reached from Helsinki by train and plane. New for the summer of 2024 is Verdi’s magnificent Nabucco. The programme also includes Lohengrin, Don Giovanni and the late Kaija Saariaho’s Adriana Mater. The Czech National Opera from Prague will bring the landmark Czech works Káťa Kabanová and The Bartered Bride to Savonlinna.
An attack on a neighbouring nation and the loss of freedom are the themes of Giuseppe Verdi’s acclaimed opera Nabucco, which the award-winning Rodula Gaitanou will direct at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in the summer of 2024. Gaitanou is one of the most widely admired opera directors in the world today. She was shortlisted for Director of the Year 2019 by the International Opera Awards and received the Argo Award in 2022 from the President of Greece. La traviata, which Gaitanou directed for London’s Opera Holland Park a few years ago, caused a sensation in the music media.
Among those singing the principal roles are Angela Meade, Gabriele Viviani, Oksana Dyka, Mika Kares and Antony Ciaramitaro – together with the great Opera Festival Choir, which is like a character in its own right in a work famed for its great choral scenes.
‘It’s never too late for a debut’
‘It’s never too late for a debut’, said Karita Mattila in an interview with The Guardian in 2014. In the article she said that she dreamed of playing the role of the witch Ortrud in Wagner’s Lohengrin. The dream later came true – in glorious fashion – at the Bavarian State Opera and will be do so again at Olavinlinna in the summer of 2024. Once again, Mattila will make a major debut: this will be her first operatic role in Savonlinna in her long career.
‘It is a great event that Karita Mattila, the most important Finnish opera singer of our time, will perform her first role at the Savonlinna Opera Festival’, says Ville Matvejeff, artistic director of the Festival.
Among the Opera Festival’s classic productions, Mozart’s Don Giovanni will be performed in the summer of 2024. The main role, the philanderer himself, will be sung by the Ukrainian-born Yuriu Yurchuk, and by Waltteri Torikka.
Guest appearances by Norrlandsoperan, the Czech National Opera and a virtuoso piano wildcard
In the summer of 2024, two guest opera companies have been invited to Savonlinna to enhance the programme of the month-long festival. Kaija Saariaho’s Adriana Mater is the latest highly acclaimed production by Norrlandsoperan, and its premiere was conducted by Ville Matvejeff in Umeå in the spring of 2023. Kaija Saariaho passed away at the beginning of June.
‘I have long dreamed of performing Kaija’s opera at the Opera Festival. We mourn Kaija’s passing deeply, but that makes it even more special to make these performances of Adriana Mater a tribute to her life’s work’, says Ville Matvejeff.
The Czech National Opera from Prague, Národní divadlo, whose core repertoire naturally includes Czech operas, will bring two landmark works to Olavinlinna. Leoš Janáček’s Káťa Kabanová is directed by the opera radical Calixto Bieito. To mark the bicentenary of the composer’s birth, Bedřich Smetana’s The Bartered Bride is a comedy for the whole family, interpreted by the film director Alice Nellis.
The virtuoso Hungarian pianist Peter Bence will give a concert. He’s a pianistic wildcard whose international popularity skyrocketed when he happened to make videos of two arrangements of Michael Jackson songs and posted them on YouTube. Bence is a multi-talented musician who also composes. Although he is classically trained, Bence’s concerts feature arrangements – in the spirit of the 19th-century piano ‘rock star’ Franz Liszt – of modern-day hits ranging from Michael Jackson to Queen and Sia.
The Savonlinna Opera Festival will be held next year from 5 July to 4 August 2024. The full 2024 programme is available here. Tickets are already on sale to the Opera Festival Patrons’ Association members. General ticket sales start on Monday 26 June 2023. This summer, the Opera Festival will begin with the premiere of Romeo and Juliet on 1 July 2023.
For more information, please contact:
Ville Matvejeff, Artistic Director
Jannika Vahvaselkä, Communication Specialist
firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +35850 430 4186