An Operatic season packed with dream gifts

Mamma mia, the perfect gift for Mum: a ticket for the 2016 Savonlinna Opera Festival. Italian passion and steamy drama – and plenty more besides.

The world’s most famous playwright, William Shakespeare, and opera composer Giuseppe Verdi strike to the very heart of the psychological thriller Otello, the season’s new production. Alternating in the title role are two of today’s most sought-after Otello tenors Kristian Benedikt and Aleksanders Antonenko.

The other eagerly-awaited new production this year is Leoš Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, never before staged in Olavinlinna Castle. A work admirably suited to its castle setting, the opera is based on Dostoevsky’s autobiographical prison-camp novel and promises to be the most talked-about operatic event of the year, even by global standards.

The Festival has plenty that’s new throughout the season. The visiting Ravenna Festival is bringing to Olavinlinna Castle Verdi’s comic opera Falstaff and dramatic Macbeth. The other superb guest, the Teatro Regio Torino, is adding to the already rich repertoire two works never before seen in the Castle, Puccini’s La bohème and Bellini’s Norma.

Cast in the title role of Mozart’s masterly Don Giovanni are two young baritone age-mates. Waltteri Torikka and Kartal Karagedik are both admirably equipped to step into the shoes of the world’s most famous womaniser.

The season’s concerts are equally on a par with the opera performances. Wielding the baton at the closing concert of the visit by the Ravenna Festival will be one of today’s most legendary conductors, Riccardo Muti, on his very first visit to Finland. At the concert in the Castle, Maestro Muti will be conducting the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra in two great symphonic classics and audience hits: Symphony no. 5 (the “Fate”) by Ludwig van Beethoven and Symphony no. 8 (the “Unfinished”) by Franz Schubert. Vocal music by Schubert can also be heard at two other concerts: his Mass in A Flat conducted by John Storgårds in the huge wooden Kerimäki Church, and his Winterreise at the Savonlinna Hall. The performance of Winterreise marks the culmination of a journey travelled together for nearly 40 years by baritone Jorma Hynninen and pianist Ralf Gothóni.

Wishing all mothers a suspenseful run-up to Mothers’ Day!