May 11, 2012 08:14 BST The unique atmosphere inside Olavinlinna Castle is one of those things that just has to be experienced on site. Entering and exiting the castle complete the event, as the beautiful surroundings make sure even the most hardened cynic is left amazed.
Finland's Savonlinna Opera Festival Celebrates 100 YearsMay 11, 2012 08:14 BST
It’s a big year for one of the best known Finnish cultural events, the Savonlinna Opera Festival; it’s been 100 years since Aino Ackté, the most illustrious Finnish soprano of her day, made the event happen for the first time.
Already in 1912, the Opera Festival was set amidst the ruins of Olavinlinna Castle in central Savonlinna. Fully restored, Olavinlinna remains the venue to this day, making for one of the most unique opera stages in the world. The atmosphere inside the castle is rivaled only by the spectacular view over Lake Saimaa outside.
Classics Mixed with Online Opera
For the centenary, festival organizers have decided to go with crowd-pleasers, as the programme contains three all-time Savonlinna favourites: Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman and Verdi’s Aida.
The classics will be complemented with two world premieres: Kimmo Hakola’s La Fenice and the first ever opera created by an online community, namely Free Will.
A Pinch of Rock
Famous Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, the Aino Ackté of today, along with Finnish cello group Apocalyptica, known for their rock-oriented sound, will also be adding to the varied programme with their respective concerts.
Savonlinna Opera Festival takes place between July 5th and August 4th. Full programme and more information on the festival website.
Festival tickets and prices
There’s More to Savonlinna than Opera
Savonlinna lies in the heart of Lakeland, a province known for its natural beauty and several of Finland’s biggest lakes. In fact, Lakeland is Europe’s largest lake district.
Inland cruises, among other activities, are a popular way of enjoying the picturesque scenery of the area in the summer. How about a dinner cruise on Lake Saimaa and entering Olavinlinna Castle from the waterfront? This and other cruise options on Lake Saimaa to be found here and here.
There’s a range of accommodation to choose from in Savonlinna, from quality hotels to luxury villas and traditional cottages.
Get to Savonlinna: Fly to Helsinki. Connecting flights from Helsinki to Savonlinna take around 50 minutes. Return ticket prices start from 90 euros. Check flights
The train ride between Helsinki and Savonlinna takes around 4,5 hours. Return ticket prices start from 90 euros. Timetables and booking
Savonlinna travel website
More images on Savonlinna Opera Festival in the festival image bank (registration required).
More images on the Savonlinna region (registration required).