Savonlinna Opera Festival
Report on the Savonlinna Opera Festival, an event organised and put on by choirs of volunteers that love singing and which attracts spectators from all over the world. Interviews with choir chief Kyosti Haatanen, director of communication Erkk Toüvanen, and excerpts of the Paillasse opera interpreted by Elisabeth Meyer-Topsoe and Sirkia Raimo.
Created in 1912 at the moment of the Finnish national identity's affirmation, the Opera of Savonlinna festival, which took place in the Romantic decor of the mediaeval Olavinlinna Castle (Olaf's Castle), was made to celebrate Finnish musical creation. Just one foreign opera, the Faust of Frenchman Charles Gounod, would find its place in the programme made by Aino Ackté, soprano and first director of the Festival from 1912 to 1917.
At the end of the First World War, Finland went through a difficult social and political period and the festival was left abandoned for nearly 50 years before being relaunched in 1967 under the form of an opera class for young singers. Since then, the festival has continuously developed, reaching an international audience attracted by the popular dimension of the festival and the high demands of the program and performances. The resident companies, regularly organised, favour contemporary creation and every year several "Premieres" are organised on stage to suit all interested, whether amateur or professional.