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Nabucco is the most anticipated new production of the season – tickets are selling out fast

Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Nabucco once again makes a social statement – the new direction and staging highlight the greatest crisis of our time. Marigona Qerkezi, currently one of European opera’s most exciting new faces, is one of the star soloists.  

New to the Savonlinna Opera Festival, Giuseppe Verdi’s breakthrough work Nabucco has served political purposes throughout its history. Director Rodula Gaitanou, however, takes on a much broader issue than national conflicts. ‘Our version is an ecological manifesto. Climate change is the biggest war of our time, and it is being waged against nature’, says Gaitanou. Her compatriot, Greek-born takis, who holds a PhD from Aalto University, is responsible for the opera’s set design.  

Lights and mirrors play an important role in takis’s concept for the creation of the visual space on the huge stage of Olavinlinna castle. Green nature fights for its own place and the costume design follows the dichotomy of the roles. The visual expression is inspired by the formal language of Babylonian pyramids and palaces. 

Lights and mirrors play an important role in takis’s concept for the creation of the visual space on the huge stage of Olavinlinna castle.

In the world created by Gaitanou and takis, Nabucco leads a group of technocrats who believe in plastic, machines and individualism. Zaccaria is the leader of the eco-warriors fighting for humanity and nature. ‘Verdi’s characters are extraordinarily strong. In this Nabucco, the two male leads are matched by Abigaille and Fenena, so there are four instead of two equally important leading roles. Vocally, this production is really interesting, with some excellent singers in the roles.’ 

The role of Nabucco is shared by Gabriele Viviani, a regular at La Scala in Milan, the Paris Opéra and Covent Garden, and Devid Cecconi, a baritone from Florence who is a regular guest at La Scala and other major Italian opera houses. 

‘If Hagen in Götterdämmerung is the most demanding role in German operatic literature, Zaccaria is the equivalent in the Italian repertoire’, says bass Mika Kares, who alternates with Vazgen Gazaryan in the role of Zaccaria. The Armenian-German Gazaryan sings with the Baden State Theatre in Karlsruhe and also makes regular visits to other prestigious opera houses in the German-speaking region. Other Finnish names on the roster of international soloists include tenor Johan Krogius (Ismaele), soprano Johanna Nylund (Anna) and bass Henri Uusitalo (High Priest of Baal).  

Ukrainian soprano Oksana Dyka and Zagreb-born Marigona Qerkezi share the role of Abigaille, Nabucco’s presumed elder daughter. Qerkezi, replacing the previously announced Angela Meade, is currently attracting great interest in European opera houses. After Savonlinna, her schedule already includes several other appearances in the role of Abigaille. 

The role of Fenena, Nabucco’s daughter, will be sung by the Italian mezzo-soprano Annalisa Stroppa who, as well as singing at La Scala, is a regular guest at the Salzburg and Ravenna festivals, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin and several other leading European opera houses.  

As conductor, Ville Matvejeff, artistic director of the Opera Festival, will alternate with the Irish-British conductor James Sherlock, who studied at Cambridge University, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Georg Solti Accademia and in the Sibelius Academy conducting class. He attracted the attention of Finnish audiences with performances of Dialogues des Carmélites at the Finnish National Opera in February 2024. Both Sherlock and Matvejeff are acclaimed lied pianists. 

Ticket sales for these performances are brisk and the opera has proved very popular even before its premiere. 

Photo: Costume and set designer takis visited Savonlinna in the spring to observe the realization of his designs.

Premiere 6.7. at 7 pm
Further performances 8.7., 11.7., 16.7., 19.7., 22.7., 24.7. and 26.7. at 7 pm 

Director: Rodula Gaitanou
Set and costume design: takis
Lighting design: Jake Wiltshire
Chorus-master: Jan Schweiger 

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