Summer Time Opera Festivals
By Mort Levine
All it seems to take is a patch of beautiful
weather and a rising Dow Jones average to focus
the mind on travels abroad, especially when
looking over the riches of the many festivals
that dot the continent. It brings back memories
of memorable experiences that involved both
performances, unique settings and the chance
to interact with a widely diverse and opera-literate
attendees from the world over.
The casual nature of summer festivals invite
the interchange of experience, shared
views of the operas, and even restaurant suggestions
and other festivals to enjoy.
With some careful surfing of the web, one
can now get the lineups of operas and other
musical events at each festival. A starting
point will be the imminent arrival of the May
issue of Opera News which will feature these
European festivals, but any search engine will
provide dozens of entry points to get the information
about what is on offer, what is sold out
already, and even some tips on lodging and
Among our all time favorites would be the
Glydebourne Festival Opera runs this year
from May 21 through August 30. It is on an
estate in the sunny East Sussex countryside
which is about a three hour drive south from
London. Trains also serve the site. This festival
lineup has six operas to mark their 75th
anniversary. The Giulio Cesare by Handel
should be a highlight, and it’s also Handel’s
250th birthday. Purcell’s Faerie Queen is another
rarely performed gem. New productions
of Rusalka and Falstaff, plus the Elixer and
Tristan and Isolde round out the season.
Salzburg is the granddaddy of festivals
where the entire town gets in the action. From
July 25 through August 30 one can partake of
the joys this festival offers. Available are six
operas plus theatre pieces in several languages
and dozens of chamber music, orchestral appearances
and recitals. Mozart would be proud
of his hometown.
Savonlinna is a very special place on an island
castle converted to opera performances
in midsummer. The opportunity to experience the wooded waterland of central Finland is a
lifetime treat. The website for a full spectrum
of useful information is www.operafestival.fi
and it’s truly extraordinary.
Italy, as the first home of opera, pays special
homage to its foremost composers each
summer with an array of operas in their hometowns.
Among them are the Rossini festival
in Pesaro which always offers some of the
most obscure masterworks as well as the best
known. It runs two weeks in August. Its website
is www.rossinioperafestival.it. Puccini is
similarly honored at Torre del Lago from mid-
July through much of August with four operas.
And, while in Italy, one shouldn’t overlook the
amazing Maggio Musicale Fiorentino which
brings opera and music events from late April
to July 1. www.maggiofiorentino.com.
There are many, many others to provide a
special remembrance to a European trip. Once
at an opera festival, you find yourself among
fellow enthusiasts who become friends.
(SJOG Newsletter May, 2009 Issue)