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Finnish Savonlinna Opera Festival

Is Opera one of your interests? Then the annually held Finnish Savonlinna Opera Festival is for you!

The birth of the Savonlinna Opera Festival ties in closely with the emerging Finnish musical identity and Finland's striving for independence at the beginning of the 20th century. Attending a patriotic meeting in Olavinlinna Castle in 1907, the Finnish soprano Aino Ackté, already famous at opera houses the world over and an ardent patriot, immediately spotted the potential of the medieval castle built in 1475 as the venue for an opera festival. The romantic castle set amid lake scenery of 'supernatural beauty' could not, in her opinion, fail to impress all who beheld it.

For various reasons the festival laid dormant for almost 40 years but returned to life again in 1967 when Savonlinna Music Days arranged an academic course for aspiring singers. The leader of the course staged a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio in the castle court yard and joining the young students were singers of international fame. The performance was a great success and is today regarded as the start of the present festival.

Over the years the Savonlinna Opera Festival has grown from a one-week event into an international festival lasting a month. Each year it performs to a total audience of around 60,000, a good 10 per cent from abroad. Savonlinna has become a byword among opera lovers the world over. Its artistic standard was already attracting widespread interest and admiration back in the 1970s, due greatly to the uncompromising efforts of its Artistic Director, the world-famous bass singer Martti Talvela, to achieve the same objective as Aino Ackté in her day: to place Savonlinna on an artistic par with the great European festivals while presenting the world with Finnish opera at its very best.

The Savonlinna Opera Festival has become one of the most illustrious fixtures in the Finnish cultural calendar, and an event of the greatest international significance. Aino Ackté was right: first-class opera in a romantic, medieval castle amid lake scenery of 'supernatural beauty' is a unique and hence unforgettable experience.

Savonlinna is approximately 200 miles northeast of Helsinki by car and air, bus and train connections are also available as are packages for events and lodging.



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