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What is opera? A soprano sings and the audience sniffs? This too, but also catchy tunes, twirling waltzes and end-less blunders. There’ll be plenty of laughs, too, in Olavin-linna Castle in summer 2019, in a programme that fea-tures both comic opera and operetta.

The season’s new production is Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, a whirl of a sitcom in which the twists and turns are exploited to the full in the direction by Kari Heiskanen. The Opera Festival Choir will have a magnificent chance to shine in Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor in Kerimäki Church.

Two old favourites are back on the programme next year: Verdi’s Rigoletto, an agonisingly tear-jerking classic in which the drama unfolds in some of the world’s best-known arias, and Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, a carefree, thought - provoking story about cultural encounter – a topic that never ages.

By inviting along operas from elsewhere, the Festival allows Savonlinna audiences a chance to appreciate a per-formance tradition that has continued unbroken ever since the birth of the Verdi operas and operettas galore. La Scala, Milan is bringing to Savonlinna Verdi’s seldom-heard I masnadieri and a gala concert, while even the Castle swifts and swallows will start to dance in the Wiener Volksoper’s production of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.

Also on the programme for 2019 is the Timo Mustakallio Singing Competition renowned for its efficient jury work, once again talent-spotting promising singers for the star charts of the future.