The Savonlinna Opera Festival season ending on August 6 celebrated three great milestones: 100 years of Finnish independence, 50 of the present Festival and 30 of foreign opera house visits.
“The focus in the Opera Festival programme for 2017 was as a matter of course on its own productions: Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio, Verdi’s Rigoletto and Aulis Sallinen’s Kullervo,” says Artistic Director Jorma Silvasti. “The productions of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bellini’s The Puritans presented by the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow and the Teatro Real Madrid, respectively, broadened the repertoire to cover various other genres of opera and offered our audiences some less often-heard masterpieces of operatic literature.”
The Festival had commissioned Aulis Sallinen’s chronicle The Castle in the Water, which was premiered on the opening weekend, while his opera Kullervo made a fine comeback in the direction by Kari Heiskanen.
“This year we noted the Finnish centenary in a big way, both artistically and financially,” adds General Director Jan Strandholm. “An institution such as the Savonlinna Opera Festival must, to my mind, have a strong visible presence in the jubilee festivities. This was also demonstrated by one of the special highlights of the summer, the visit to the Opera Festival by the Presidents of Finland and Russia at the end of July.”
The Presidents attended a performance of Iolanta by the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow as part of the working visit by President Putin in honour of Finland 100. Iolanta, and the critically-acclaimed The Puritans by the season’s other visiting opera house, the Teatro Real Madrid, are operatic gems very seldom heard in Finland. For 30 years now the Opera Festival has been enriching the Finnish opera offering by bringing top foreign opera houses to perform in Olavinlinna Castle.
An unusually large number of concerts was heard at this year’s Festival: in addition to The Castle in the Water, there was a concert of Finnish choral music given by the YL Male Voice Choir and the Tapiola Choir in Kerimäki Church, a joint performance by the Teatro Real and the Savonlinna Opera Festival of Sibelius’s Kullervo, a concert performance of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin by the Bolshoi Theatre, and Beethoven’s Missa solemnis at the concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the present-form Opera Festival. Children were delighted by Bunny Pawie’s Somersaults at the Savonlinna Hall. The national Timo Mustakallio Singing Competition held in conjunction with the Festival was won by Aurora Marthens, soprano.
All in all, the Festival lasting just over four weeks comprised 36 performances for which tickets were sold: 22 opera performances, 9 concerts, the Timo Mustakallio Singing Competition (two rounds) and 3 performances of the children’s opera. Together these attracted a total audience of close on 70,000.
Jan Strandholm, General Director, +358 41 513 2456, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jorma Silvasti, Artistic Director, +358 44 743 3631, email@example.com
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The Savonlinna Opera Festival is the Finnish cultural event best known internationally and a leading Finnish tourist attraction. In over a century, it has grown into an international festival lasting one month. It attracts an annual total audience of around 60,000, a good 10 per cent from abroad. A visit to the opera in Savonlinna is an all-round experience made up of first-class opera performances and concerts, the unique atmosphere of a medieval castle and the beautiful town of Savonlinna in summer, set amid lakes, islands and forests. Savonlinna has become a concept among opera-lovers the world over. The budget for the 2017 Festival is about €8m, of which about 84% is self-financed and 16% consists of grants from the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Town of Savonlinna).