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4/18/2012 New Fringe Festival

The festival of a century in Savonlinna, July 5–August 4, 2012

The 100th anniversary of the Savonlinna Opera Festival is being celebrated this year with new premieres and some ever-popular classics.

In honour of the jubilee, a series of events going by the umbrella name of SOFringe and consisting of concerts, theatre productions, performances, talks, exhibitions and other attractions will this year be running parallel with the Opera Festival proper. At the heart of SOFringe will be culture folk from the region together with performers from all over Finland. The numerous events – some already up-and-running and others quite new – will spread all over the town. This Fringe Festival will have a website of its own as of the end of April at www.sofringe.fi.

There will be daily events beginning at 14 at the Creative Break Arena in Harbour Park (Opera Terrace). The aim of the Savonlinna Opera Festival and its main partner, the OP-Pohjola Group, in launching this arena is to provide little high-culture interludes. The Creative Break Arena will be open to performing arts of all kinds and hopes to attract as many local performers as possible.

The Fringe Club (Kalmarinkatu 9) will be used for the popular opera talks (at 17 on opera nights), other talks and evening club nights, especially after opera performances. Among the artists at these sessions will be top names in the Finnish entertainment world.

The opera talks in Finnish will be given by Uljas Pulkkis (July 6–14), Minna Lindgren (July 16–21), Tapani Länsiö (July 23–28) and Jan Granberg (July 31–August 4).

Other SOFringe venues will include the Retretti Art Centre, the Huvila Brewery Restaurant, the Putkinotko Summer Theatre, the Killa Cinema, the Little Church, the Provincial Museum, the Market Square, shops, shopping centres, etc.

The genre of the SOFringe events is wide to say the least. Examples are Munamies/The Eggman (a highly-popular comic Finnish character) singing the Queen of the Night (Creative Break Arena, July 16), the song-play Harvest Dances by Ilmari Hannikainen (Putkinotko, July 7–28), a “free concert to greet Festival visitors” by Matti Salminen (bass) and Pentti Savolainen in true Aino Ackté tradition (at 12 noon, Savonlinna Cathedral, July 24) and readings of texts (in Finnish) by Joel Lehtonen “The Happy Summer of 1912” (at 14, Creative Break Arena, July 13).

The aim of the Fringe Festival is to give the Opera Festival performances added value and to offer visitors to Savonlinna as many other experiences – most of them free – as possible in addition to the magnificent opera performances.

The Fringe Festival is part of a project designed to enhance the attractiveness of the Saimaa region of South Savo.

Anyone who would like to perform in the Creative Break Arena should contact SOFringe producer Henna Karjalainen, on tel. +358 40 7454165 or at henna.karjalainen@operafestival.fi.

The Savonlinna Opera Festival in brief
The Savonlinna Opera Festival is the Finnish cultural event best known internationally and a leading Finnish tourist attraction. Over the years 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 and forests. Savonlinna has become a concept among opera-lovers the world over. The Festival gets c. 14% of its funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Town of Savonlinna, nearly 70% from ticket revenue and c. 10% from its partnership agreements.

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