There are some opportunities and occasions that are rare and magical and we think that the subject of this week’s blog is one of them. The Savonlinna Opera Festival is the best know cultural event in Finland internationally and a huge Finnish tourist attraction. Over the years it has grown into an international festival lasting a whole month. It attracts an annual total audience of around 60,000, a good 10 per cent of whom come 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, islands and forests. It is a truly magical experience to hear world class opera inside a historic castle, the stuff of fairy tales one might say!
It is a matchless opportunity for East to meet West in the great courtyard of medieval Olavinlinna ( St Olaf) 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 first opera festival was held in 1912 but the First World War curtailed any development of the festival in becoming an annual event although several one offs occurred in the intervening years . 50 years later in 1967 the festival began in earnest again ; the Castle was only accessible by boat and there was no rain shelter. Over the years the reputation of the festival grew – now, Savonlinna Opera Festival is one of the most well-known, best regarded opera festivals in the world.
The 2020 Festival runs from Friday 3rd July –Friday, 31 July
On his travels to Italy and North Africa between 1908 and 1914, Karol Szymanowski succumbed to the fascination of these countries and collected a great deal of material, which was reflected in King Roger. The plot itself is rooted in Euripides’ “Bacchantes” and depicts in three oratorio-like tableaux: the struggle between Apollo and Dionysus, between the intellect and the unconscious, and between the Christian church in medieval Sicily and the pagan faith.
Dates: 4th, 9th, 15th July 2020 at 19.00h.
Bizet’s Carmen has everything you want from an opera: high drama, passionate characters, a love story. And what’s more it’s absolutely packed with great melodies – even if you don’t know the opera, you’ll definitely know the tune!
Dates: 3rd, 7th, 10th, 13th, 17th, 21st July 2020 at 19,00h.
A tale of two young lovers separated by the cruelty of society and fate, Verdi’s La Traviata is one of opera’s most powerful and enduring romances. La Traviata is the story of a lively Parisian courtesan who gives up the man she loves to save his family’s reputation. Perhaps self sacrifice is the greatest theme if this powerful opera. The story is touching not just because it is a story people can believe in but because it is a story people want to believe in!
Dates: 6th, 8th, 14th, 18th, 20th and 23rd July 2020 at 19.00h
The Barber of Seville
The Barber of Seville, the dazzling two-act opera buffa (comic opera) Rossini had written from Rome in 1816 at the age of 23 is one of the most well loved in the field of opera
Dates: 11th, 16th, 22nd, and 24th July 2020 at 19.00h
Werther has been considered Massenet’s masterpiece. The libretto was inspired by Goethe’s epistolary novel, The Sufferings of Young Werther, whose intense romanticism perfectly suited Massenet’s temperament.
Dates: 26th, 29th and 31st July 2020 at 19.00h
Georg Friedrich Händel’s Giulio Cesare is based on Julius Caesar’s Egyptian visit of 48-47 BC. Caesar has defeated Pompey, a rival Roman general, at Pharsalia in Greece and has pursued him to Egypt, where Cleopatra and her younger brother Ptolemy are joint sovereigns.
Dates: 28th, 30th July 2020 at 19.00h.
Grand Festive Gala
This featured extracts from many famous operas and includes the iconic Karita Mattila as one of the performers. These concerts will be one of the highlights of summer 2020.
Dates: 25th and 27th July 2020 at 19.00h
In summer, when the lakes shimmer in the sun and operatic arias waft through the forest-scented air, Savonlinna place is quite breathtaking and magical.
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