The 100th anniversary season of the Savonlinna Opera Festival begins on July 5, 2012, but now is also the time to look ahead to the programme for next season.
Next year marks the 200th anniversary of the births of two great opera composers: Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner. In honour of the occasion, the Opera Festival is staging one of the most popular operas of all times, Verdi’s La traviata. The stage director will be Mariusz Trelinski, the Artistic Director of the Polish National Opera famed for his exciting directions for both television, theatre and opera. His direction of Madama Butterfly delighted none other than Placido Domingo, thanks to whom Trelinski has since been invited to direct at the world’s greatest opera houses.
The other Verdi production for 2013 is Macbeth in the direction by Ralf Långbacka. The conductor will be Jan Latham-König. “The Festival has seen some highly-acclaimed productions that have lived on for a long time. One of them is Macbeth,” says Artistic Director Jari Hämäläinen of the Savonlinna Opera Festival. “It is brilliantly suited to Olavinlinna, for it well exploits the castle’s potential.”
As a tribute to Wagner, the Festival is reviving the production of Lohengrin directed by Roman Hovenbitzer and premiered in summer 2011. “Lohengrin is a magnificent work,” says Jari Hämäläinen. “We did such a good production last year that we specifically wanted to revive it for the jubilee year.”
The best-known opera by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, Samson and Delilah, can be seen in Savonlinna next summer for the first time in Finland since the 1960s, in a co-production with the Erfurt Opera Company. Directing it will be the Company’s General Manager, Guy Montavon, and the conductor will be Jacques Delacôte.
The Seal, the Savonlinna Opera Festival’s fourth opera for children, could scarcely be on a more topical subject or better suited to its environment. Set in the world of the ringed seal – a native of the Saimaa lake region around Savonlinna – it has been devised and prepared in collaboration with pupils in Finnish junior schools. Script and visualisation competitions held during the school year just ended yielded a wealth of material that is now being jointly developed by composer Timo-Juhani Kyllönen and librettist Iida Hämeen-Anttila. The stage director will be Minna Vainikainen.
The Savonlinna Opera Festival has been acting host to opera companies from abroad ever since 1987. In 2013, the Mikhailovsky Theatre from St. Petersburg will be performing Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in the direction by Andrey Zholdak. Rounding off the Verdi jubilee year will be A Masked Ball directed by Andrejs Zagars. Both operas will be conducted by Mikhail Tatarnikov.
“The Mikhailovsky Theatre is a dynamic, go-ahead company and puts on really interesting productions,” says Savonlinna Opera Festival General Director Jan Hultin. “The two works chosen for the visit well reflect the Theatre’s desire to focus on music theatre of the highest standard. The Opera Festival and the Mikhailovsky Theatre have been building up a partnership for a couple of years now. In addition to this visit, they are holding gala concerts together in St. Petersburg. The first was in March 2012 and the next will be in early spring 2013.”
Jan Hultin’s term as General Director of the Savonlinna Opera Festival ends in autumn 2012. Jan Strandholm, his successor as of September 2013, is satisfied with the repertoire chosen for 2013. “All in all, it’s very varied and of an excellent standard,” says the General Director elect. “It will give audiences a chance to enjoy some of the finest gems of Italian, German, Russian and French opera, not forgetting the Finnish Seal for families.”
One of the Opera Festival concerts will be a performance of Verdi’s Requiem by the Savonlinna Opera Festival Orchestra and Choir. The conductor and soloists of this will be announced later. The Timo Mustakallio Competition for young Finnish singers will be held on July 6–7, 2013.
Tickets for the 2013 season of the Savonlinna Opera Festival go on sale on July 5, 2012.
Savonlinna Opera Festival July 5 - August 3, 2013.
Artistic Director Jari Hämäläinen, tel. +358 40 554 5955