The Board of Directors of the Savonlinna Opera Festival has appointed Ville Matvejeff (b. 1986) as the festival’s next Artistic Director. The talented young Finnish conductor has impressed the Board with his vision, versatility and strong proof of ability. The first works programmed by him will be staged in Olavinlinna Castle in summer 2020.
“The Savonlinna Opera Festival is a special, unique festival,” says Chairman of the Board Petteri Walldén. “I am therefore pleased that we have found Ville Matvejeff. He is a versatile musician of great vision who has already provided convincing evidence of both his artistic talent and his ability to manage an artistic community. He has good international networks, an excellent strategic grasp and inspiring charisma. He also has a clear vision for the Opera Festival’s artistic development.”
The new Artistic Director will begin his four-year term on September 1, 2019 with a further two-year option for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. He will, however, begin planning his first season, 2020, almost immediately.
Says Ville Matvejeff: “The Opera Festival has, in the course of its dynamic history, worthily upheld the operatic tradition while also introducing and creating new trends that have left their mark on the history of Finnish opera. My primary task as Artistic Director is, to my mind, to ensure operatic experiences of the highest international calibre in both familiar and more recent formats and to cherish and pass on the Opera Festival’s magic atmosphere to new audiences and opera lovers alike. I have always been enchanted by the story telling in opera, and I will be focusing my energy on fostering this at the Opera Festival.”
Ville Matvejeff is at present Artistic Director of the Turku Music Festival, where his term ends this year. Alongside his post at the Opera Festival he will continue to serve as Chief Conductor of the Jyväskylä Sinfonia and, until the start of his term in Savonlinna, as Principal Guest Conductor and Musical Advisor of the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka.
Concurrent with his international conducting career, Ville Matvejeff has also worked as a pianist and composer and feels particularly at home in opera. Beginning his career as répétiteur and Assistant Conductor at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm and as a conductor at the Opera in Malmö, he conducted the production of Aulis Sallinen’s The Castle in the Water premiered at the 2017 Savonlinna Opera Festival. Other highlights of recent years have included concert performances of Parsifal at the Turku Music Festival with Karita Mattila, Klaus Florian Vogt and Matti Salminen, and guest appearances with, among others, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Duisburg Philharmonic. He has also been Artistic Director of the New Generation Opera founded by him and presenting ambitious and technologically innovative performances.
The term of the Savonlinna Opera Festival’s present Artistic Director, Jorma Silvasti, ends in 2019. The repertoire for the 2018 and 2019 festivals is thus of his devising. “Ville Matvejeff will be taking over a festival in excellent condition from Jorma Silvasti and his predecessors,” reports Board of Directors Chairman Petteri Walldén. The Savonlinna Opera Festival is held annually in eastern Finland in July–August. The performances take place in a medieval castle surrounded by lakes.
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