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8/6/2012 Savonlinna Opera Festival attracts record audience

The 100th anniversary season of the Savonlinna Opera Festival ended on Saturday August 4 with the last performance of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes by the visiting opera house, Den Norske Opera & Ballett.

The 2012 Festival attracted a record total audience of over 73,000 for its own Festival events. This year, for the first time, it also launched a SOFringe festival that took in some 150 other events: theatre, exhibitions, concerts, talks, etc. Including these, the Festival reckons it reached a magnificent total visitor figure of over 85,000.  About 85 per cent of the opera tickets were sold, and the classics and concerts, in particular, exceeded their audience targets. In other words, the Festival achieved 90 per cent of its overall sales target.

Among the items on the programme for the jubilee year were some of the Festival’s all-time classics: the traditional productions of Verdi’s Aida, Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman filled the Castle auditorium again and again. The anniversary year was also a significant one for the Festival’s children’s and youth choir, the leader and conductor of which – Leena Astikainen – was the Festival’s Artist of the Year for 2012.

Two operas received their world premiere during the season: Kimmo Hakola’s La Fenice and the online community opera Free Will. Boldly cheeky, La Fenice was at the same time a smooth, coherent entity in terms of both music and libretto, direction and visual presentation.

The other premiere, Free Will – the first opera in the world to be created by an online Internet community and put together by professionals – also aroused interest. The Savonlinna Opera Festival’s two-year Opera by You project achieved its target: hundreds of people the world over were inspired to join in making an opera.

The anniversary year culminated in a visit by Den Norske Opera & Ballett with the opera Den fjerde nattevakt (The Fourth Watch of the Night) by Gisle Kverdokk. Highly popular in Norway, this opera had never before been seen in Finland. The dramatic performances of Den fjerde nattevakt and Peter Grimes won great acclaim with critics and audiences alike.

There were three events in the Festival’s concert series: a 100th anniversary gala, a concert by Apocalyptica, and a solo recital by Karita Mattila. The Artist of the Year concert featured spirited performances by the Opera Festival’s children’s and youth choir conducted by Leena Astikainen.

The Festival’s II International Singing Competition was also held during the season. Of the hundred or so applicants, 30 were invited to take part in Savonlinna. Six finalists were then chosen from the exciting early rounds. The winner of the very high-standard competition was US soprano Heather Engebretson.

The anniversary season had a good media following. Over 40 foreign reporters and film crews attended the 100th anniversary season, along with more than 100 Finnish reporters.

General Director Jan Hultin is a happy man after this successful 100th anniversary season:

“The artistic standard of the Festival was extremely high. The productions were, without exception, successes, both the evergreen favourites and the premieres. Night after night, the splendid casts assured our audiences thrilling experiences. I’m extremely happy.”

The 100th anniversary season ends Jan Hultin’s long term as General Director of the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Taking over from him in the autumn will be General Director Jan Strandholm.

Photos of the season’s events are available in the Savonlinna Opera Festival’s picture gallery at
www.operafestival.fi > media > picture gallery.
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Folder: 2012 SEASON

Sales of tickets for the 2013 Savonlinna Opera Festival season are well under way. The Festival’s own new productions for next season are Verdi’s La traviata and Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah. The premiere for next year is the family opera The Seal composed by Timo-Juhani Kyllönen with input from a large number of Finnish junior-school pupils. Back in the repertoire in 2013 will be Wagner’s Lohengrin and Verdi’s Macbeth. Next year marks the bicentennial of the birth of both Verdi and Wagner. Verdi’s Requiem will also be performed in the 2013 season.

The visiting opera house, the Mikhailovsky Theatre from St. Petersburg, will be performing Verdi’s A Masked Ball and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. The Timo Mustakallio Competition for young Finnish singers will again be held in summer 2013.

For further details of the programme for the 2013 Savonlinna Opera Festival please see:


Further info:
General Director Jan Hultin
Tel. +358 15 4767 510