Home-grown operas to premier at Savonlinna festival

SAVONLINNA, Finland -- Opera lovers attending the Savonlinna festival this summer will be treated to a few debuts.

Three operas were commissioned in honor of the new millennium, and they will premier in the newly refurbished main venue, the 15th century Olav-inlinna Castle.

The 15th century Olavinlinna Castle in Savonlinna.The festival is in its 33rd year, and will run July 1 to 30.

The new operatic trilogy can be performed separately or together and carries the name "The Age of Dreams," based on a libretto by Paavo Rintala.

The Finnish composers Kalevi Aho, Olli Kortekangas and Herman Rechberger developed the work on the theme of the intellectual and moral progress of the past 2,000 years. The operas will premier in one performance July 15, conducted by Osmo Vanska.

Another highlight of the season will be the final week's performances by the visiting New Israeli Opera from Tel Aviv, Israel. It will stage Gaetano Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore" and Richard Strauss' "Elektra."

Filling out the festival program will be performances of Charles Gounod's "Faust," Giuseppe Verdi's "Forza del Destino" and Wolfgang Mozart's "The Magic Flute."

Concerts and competitions also will be held during the festival at venues such as the Retretti underground concert hall and the 19th century Kerimaki Church. The main venue, Olavinlinna Castle, is a highlight of the 2000 season in its newly renovated state.

Since the 1973 opera season, the castle's courtyard has been transformed annually into an enclosed auditorium by the installation of seats and a large awning.

A contest was held in 1998 to design a better seating arrangement, and a new configuration was completed late last year. The new design includes features that will enhance the performances, such as an acoustic-friendly awning and a repositioning of the orchestra pit.

The seating capacity has grown by 30, to 2,260, including three wheelchair positions, and the space between rows has been widened.

The one catch to the new design is that the supertitles that provide translations of the operas' librettos during performances are not visible from all seats.

Prices for operatic performances range from $55 to $130. Ticket prices for concerts range from $25 to $80.

The program for 2001 is scheduled to pay homage to Verdi by featuring his compositions of "Aida," "Rigoletto" and "Macbeth."

Savonlinna Opera Festival
Web: www.operafestival.fi
E-mail: [email protected]

Finnish Tourist Board
Phone: (212) 885-9700

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