The new work by Aulis Sallinen based on The Castle in the Water, a chronicle-form collection of poetry by Lassi Nummi, celebrates the centenary of independent Finland.
The Savonlinna Opera Festival has commissioned a new work from Aulis Sallinen for summer 2017. Called The Castle in the Water, it will be premiered in Olavinlinna Castle on July 8, 2017. The conductor will be Ville Matvejeff, making his Savonlinna Opera Festival debut, and Kari Heiskanen will be the speaker.
Sallinen describes his work as “A chronicle for speaker, four singers, orchestra and Olavinlinna”. In 12 movements, it bears the opus number 106. Sallinen began working on it in autumn 2014 and completed it in February this year.
The operas of Aulis Sallinen have been an integral part of the Savonlinna Opera Festival repertoire in the past few decades. The Horseman, composed for the 500th anniversary of Olavinlinna Castle in 1975, marked a turning point both for the Festival and for Finnish opera in general. Since then, Sallinen’s The King Goes Forth To France (1984) and The Palace (1995) have been premiered on the Castle stage. His The Red Line and Kullervo have also been in the Festival repertoire, so with five operas and six productions to his name, Aulis Sallinen ranks third as one of the Festival’s most-performed composers, outnumbered only by Verdi and Wagner.
In its choice of subject, The Castle in the Water is a kindred work to The Horseman. It focuses on different stages in the history of Olavinlinna and the region around it, from its silent, uninhabited, borderless days right up to the present and even into the future. The poetry of Lassi Nummi addresses history both at a general level and through personal stories.
Kullervo returns with new soloists
The production of Aulis Sallinen’s Kullervo directed by Kari Heiskanen and his team was a great success at the Opera Festival the year before last. The opera returns to the Castle in 2017, again with Hannu Lintu as conductor but with a new ensemble of soloists.
Making his debut in the title role will be Ville Rusanen, while Kimmo will be sung by Dan Karlström. Cast as Kullervo’s mother will be Johanna Rusanen-Kartano, with Tuomas Pursio as Kalervo his father. Also singing in the 2017 Kullervo will be the winners of the 2015 Timo Mustakallio Competition: Markus Suihkanen and Sanna Matinniemi.
The opening weekend of the 2017 Savonlinna Opera Festival will couple two works both plumbing the depths of the Finnish ethos. The premiere of The Castle in the Water beginning at 15 on Saturday July 8 will be followed at 19 by the first night of Kullervo in the Castle. After the matinée (at 15) of The Castle in the Water on July 9, YL – the Finnish male choir best known internationally – will round off this weekend tribute to 100-year-old Finland with a concert in Kerimäki Church.
Jorma Silvasti, Artistic Director
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