The Savonlinna Opera Festival is the Finnish cultural event best known internationally and a leading Finnish tourist destination. 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. Savonlinna has become an icon among opera-lovers the world over, for it is more than just first-class opera in an ancient castle; it is also an idyllic little town set amid lakes, islands and forests, light summer nights, and a stimulating cultural atmosphere. It is a matchless opportunity for East to meet West in the great courtyard of medieval Olavinlinna Castle, surrounded by mighty stone walls. The unique 2,264-seat castle auditorium has excellent acoustics and is protected by an awning from wind and rain.
The key to the Savonlinna Opera Festival’s success is its high artistic standard. The main responsibility for this lies with Artistic Director, Jorma Silvasti: “We make sure that we employ only the best Finnish talents, supplemented as necessary with foreign stars. We are particularly proud of our Festival Choir and Orchestra, our cornerstone. Over the years, singers of the finest calibre have risen from the Choir’s ranks, and we intend to go on offering young Finns a chance to advance in their careers.”
Long live Finland and the Savonlinna Opera Festival!
The opening weekend of the Savonlinna Opera Festival is our tribute to the independent Republic of Finland celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017. For on the programme are two works deeply rooted in the Finnish ethos: Aulis Sallinen’s The Castle in the Water, to receive its world premiere in Olavinlinna Castle, and his Kullervo, in its first performance of the season. Rounding off the weekend will be a concert in Kerimäki Church by the YL Male Voice Choir, our worldwide ambassador for Finnish male-voice singing, and the young singers of the Tapiola Choir.
Jumping the gun in the centenary festivities is the new production of Die Entführung aus dem Serail staged by a Finnish team. This fairytale-like opera, with which Mozart first made a name for himself, is suitable for young and old alike.
In honour of the jubilee year, we have invited two famous opera houses to join us. The Bolshoi Theatre from Moscow is bringing along two works by Pyotr Tchaikovsky: the opera Iolanta and a concertante version of Eugene Onegin. The Teatro Real Madrid is enriching the programme with Bellini’s I puritani and Sibelius’s Kullervo Symphony, the latter in collaboration with the Savonlinna Opera Festival Choir. For any bel canto fans who saw Norma in summer 2016, The Puritans will surely be an unforgettable experience.
One of the most interesting new productions in the jubilee season is Verdi’s Rigoletto, an all-time Festival favourite. The new version is based on the direction of Sir David McVicar for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
A new era dawned in 1967 for the Savonlinna Opera Festival first held over a 100 years ago. For the past half-century we have enjoyed an unbroken history of performing to the world’s best audience. To celebrate this landmark we have chosen Beethoven’s Missa solemnis.
Take a look at our programme and make a date with the only festival of its kind in the world.