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THE RHINEGOLD ACCORDING TO SALONEN

Esa-Pekka Salonen and Finland’s National Opera in Wagner’s Rhine Gold.

August 25

Aired 4:45 pm

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  • Talk

    Dagnija Lejiņa (LV) in conversation with Māris Gailis (LV)

  • THE RHINEGOLD ACCORDING TO SALONEN

    Salonen's take on Wagner's the Rhinegold

Sunday August 25

The second day of the Baltic Sea Festival revolves around the value of water – in The Rhinegold According to Salonen, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Finnish National Opera perform Wagner’s The Rhinegold, in which the river gives life to all who live close to it. But at the bottom of the river rests the enchanted Rhinegold that, in the wrong hands, starts a disastrous chain of events that brings about the end of the world. The evening’s conversation is from Riga, and the guests are super communicator Dagnija Lejiņa, who strives to connect people by building purposedriven communities and sailor Māris Gailis, who, having sailed around the world, has been Latvia’s prime minister, but is now a culture entrepreneur and a Wagner expert, led by Swedish Radio’s Fredrik Wadström.

Climate performance opera NeoArctic could not be more urgent. Following critically acclaimed tours to New York, London and Copenhagen, Hotel Pro Forma’s and the Latvian Radio Choir’s performance is coming to the Baltic Sea Festival.

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  • 14:45

    Foyer Concert

    Upper Foyer, Berwaldhallen

    Chamber music with students from Lilla Akademien.

  • 15:00

    Foyer Talk

    Upper Foyer, Berwaldhallen

    Thomas Andrén is a scientist at Södertörn University with focus on investigating how the Baltic Sea has developed in relation to climate variations and the changes that have occurred in the water exchange with the oceans. Thomas will talk about how important it is to care for our unique inner sea in the light of its long history. Because if we understand the history of the Baltic Sea, we also understand to what extent we are currently affecting the sensitive ecosystem whose health status is so valuable to us all around the Baltic Sea. The talk will be in Swedish.

  • 15:30

    Pre Concert talk

    Lower Foyer, Berwaldhallen

    With Boel Adler

  • 16:00

    TALK – Dagnija Lejiņa (LV) and Māris Gailis (LV)

    Berwaldhallen

    Live-streamed from The National Library in Riga. In this conversation Dagnija and Māris will share their insights about the various urgencies that the Baltic Sea and the surrounding region face. Māris, an experienced skipper and founder of many cultural initiatives in Latvia, and super communicator Dagnija Lejiņa, who strives to connect people by building purpose driven communities share their visions for the future. Both Dagnija and Māris are instrumental for a number of important processes in Latvia with its beautiful 500 km coastline of the Baltic Sea. Both have walked some extra miles of it to get things done, sometimes against all odds. In that sense Latvia and the Baltic Sea do have much in common – both need people who are ready to walk the extra mile to make things better. Swedish Radio’s Fredrik Wadström will be part of the conversation as a moderator.

    Participants

    • Dagnija Lejiņa, CEO and Co-founder of Digital Freedom Festival, Lejiņa & Šleiers Reputation Management company. Dagnija is a passionate communications professional with a special interest in technologies, startups and community engagement. In addition to creating the Digital Freedom Festival, she is a Co-Founder of the boutique reputation management company “Lejiņa and Šleiers”, and is a co-founder of “Riga Venture Summit” and the Latvian Startup Association. In the past Dagnija has led communications at the largest Nordic bank in Latvia – Nordea, also coordinating communications in Poland and the Baltic countries. Her contributions have been acknowledged with numerous awards, including The Golden Button, a prestigious award for Latvian PR professionals. She has gained experience in public affairs while serving as Press Secretary and Communications Advisor to the Latvian Foreign Minister. She has got her Msc in Politics and Communications from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Whether it’s hiking in the Himalayas or exploring the thick jungles of southeast Asia, Dagnija has never denied a challenge and aims to push herself to unknown horizons. At the same time she looks for ways that she can help others to achieve their goals by connecting people and building purpose driven communities.

    • World sailor Māris Gailis was Latvia’s prime minister in the mid-1990s and has played an important role for the development of many social and political issues in Latvia. He is founder of International Film Forum ‘Arsenals’, entrepreneur, founder of the Žanis Lipke Memorial amongst many other projects. Māris Gailis led the yacht expedition Milda around the globe. On July 9, 2001 (his 50th birthday), he departed for a 2-year expedition around the globe on the yacht Milda (21 m long and 50 tonne two-mast schooner). On 22 April 2003, after a journey of approximately 40,000 nautical miles during which visited more than 30 countries, Milda arrived at Ventspils Port. Recently he is – in his role as chair of Riga’s Wagner Society – renovating the historical building where Wagner lived and worked during his time in Riga.

  • 17:15

    THE RHINEGOLD ACCORDING TO SALONEN

    Berwaldhallen

    The second day of the Baltic Sea Festival revolves around the value of water – in The Rhinegold according to Salonen, master conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Finnish National Opera perform Wagner’s The Rhinegold, in which the river gives life to all who live close to it. But at the bottom of the river rests the enchanted Rhinegold that, in the wrong hands, starts a disastrous chain of events that brings about the end of the world.

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    Throughout the history of music, there are some composers who stand out more than others. Not because their work was superior to that of their peers, but because they were innovators and pioneers. And Wagner undoubtedly ranks among them. With Wagner, operatic art embarked on a new chapter. He is primarily known for the idea of the opera as an “an all-embracing art form” that would elevate and refine man. Consequently, innovations such as ensuring that the auditorium remained in darkness and that the doors were kept closed during the performance were obvious for Wagner. Anything to ensure that the audience would be totally captivated by the work.

    His visions came to fruition with the inauguration of the festival in Bayreuth in 1876 in the new festival theatre. Here, Der Ring des Nibelunge was performed for the first time in its entirety; the largest opera project ever to be realized. Wagner derived inspiration for the opera from a number of sources, including Nordic mythology, Icelandic sagas and the epic medieval poem, Nibelungenlied. The idea of three performances over three days, with Das Rheingold as the prelude, is something Wagner based on the ancient Greek festivals in honour of the gods, which comprised an initial day followed by three days where tragedies and singing were performed.

    In Das Rheingold, the foundations are laid for the conflict that permeates the entire opera cycle: the struggle for love and power. The Rhinemaidens watch over the gold at the bottom of the river Rhine. The greedy dwarf Alberich flirts with them but when they laugh at him, he renounces love and steals their gold. He has been told that whoever forges a ring of gold will have absolute power over the world. Now nature has been deprived of its gold, the balance of existence is disturbed, and the world is doomed to go under…

    Even in the opera music itself, Wagner was a true innovator. Instead of arias and recitals, he wrote “the eternal melody”, a flow where lyrics and music are closely intertwined. He also used leitmotifs, musical motifs that are linked to situations, ideas, places or characters, and which contribute to elucidating the characters’ inner thoughts and feelings. But that pales in comparison when it comes to Wagner’s incredible ability to use music to portray the storyline. Here, the role of the orchestra is equal to that of the singers, and in terms of his refined skills in orchestration, Wagner had few superiors.

    It is not the first time that Esa-Pekka Salonen has taken on Wagner at the Baltic Sea Festival. In 2012, he conducted an acclaimed performance of Tristan and Isolde. But the performance of Das Rheingold will be a first for this world-renowned conductor when it comes to Der Ring des Nibelunge. The performance is a collaboration with the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki, where Salonen will conduct the entire opera cycle during the period 2019-2021.

    Text: Axel Lindhe

    Participants

    • Esa-Pekka Salonen constantly challenges and revitalises the role and place of classical music in society. He is First Conductor and Artistic Advisor to the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, Honorary Conductor and Musical Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and will assume the role of Chief Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the autumn of 2020. In addition, he is Artist in Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, where he will conduct the whole of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelunge, and his own works are also part of the orchestra’s repertoire. In London, he has been running the award-winning installations, RE-RITE and Universe of Sound, that enable people worldwide to discover symphony orchestras. Esa-Pekka Salonen is one of the Baltic Sea Festival’s founders and former Chief Conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

    • The baritone Tommi Hakala has made a name for himself through his interpretations of Wagner, Puccini, Mozart, Verdi and Tchaikovsky. He has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, Staatsoper Dresden and De Vlaamse Opera, as well as at several international festivals. Recently, he has performed with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, at the Opera Festival Savonlinna and as Viktor in Sebastian Fagerlund’s Autumn Sonata. In the Finnish National Opera’s performance of Der Ring des Nibelunge, he debuts as Wotan in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre and as The Wanderer in Siegfried.

    • Tuomas Katajala studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, as well as in Rome and Amsterdam. Since autumn 2009, he has been affiliated with the Finnish National Opera where he has performed Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the lead role in Britten’s Albert Herring, Camille de Rossilon in Léhar’s The Merry Widow and Hans in Jüri Reinvere’s Purge. His concert performances include Mozart’s Zaide at the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival and Verdi’s Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall in London and Avery Fischer Hall in New York.

    • Acclaimed Mahler singer Lilli Paasikivi has performed both Das Lied von der Erde and Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kindertotenlieder with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony and Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. She made her debut with the New York Philharmonic in the première of Rodion Shchedrin’s The Enchanted Wanderer. At the Finnish National Opera, she recently played Geneviève in Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande.

    • Dramatic soprano Reetta Haavisto debuted in 2011 at the Finnish National Opera as Madama Cortese in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims. Since then, she has performed roles such as Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Liù in Verdi’s Turandot. As a concert singer she has performed Sibelius’s Kullervo and Verdi’s Requiem, as well as songs by Strauss, Sibelius and Rachmaninov. In 2017, she made her debut at the Mariinsky Theatre and as the lead role in Strauss’s Arabella at the Aino Ackté Festival in Helsinki.

    • The bass baritone Tuomas Pursio studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and the International Opera Studio at Opernhaus Zurich and made his debut in 1996 at Deutsche Oper. His repertoire includes the four villains in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, Wurm in Verdi’s Luisa Miller, the title role in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust. He played Andrej Kovrine in the world première of Philippe Hersant’s The Black Monk at the Leipzig Opera and at the Finnish National Opera he recently played Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca.

    • The versatile tenor Markus Nykänen is equally comfortable in the lead role in the newly written opera Indigo by Eicca Toppinen and Perttu Kivilaakso as he is as Lopas in Berlioz’s Les Troyens or Remendado in Bizet’s Carmen. At the Finnish National Opera, he recently played both Raoul in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera and the Tenor in Iiro Rantala’s Sanatorio Express. He has performed several major roles at both Theater Basel and the Hamburg State Opera and is also a much sought-after concert singer.

    • Sari Nordqvist graduated from the Sibelius Academy in 1999 and debuted the same year at the Finnish National Opera as Vera Boronel in Menotti’s The Consul. At the Finnish National Opera she recently played Mary in Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, Madame Giry in Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera and Albine in Massenet’s Thaïs. Her repertoire also includes Ulrica in Verdi’s A Masked Ball, the Black Lady in Mikko Heiniö’s The Knight and the Dragon and Brigitta in Korngold’s Die tote Stadt.

    • The Finnish-German baritone Jukka Rasilainen is known for his acclaimed performances at the festivals in Bayreuth and Savonlinna, at Opernhaus Zürich  and at the Semperoper Dresden. He has played Wagner roles such as Amfortas in Parsifal, the leading role in The Flying Dutchman and Telramund in Lohengrin, but also roles such as Tonio in Leoncavallo’s Pajazzo, Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca and Amonasro in Verdi’s Aida. At the Finnish National Opera, he recently played Klingsor in Wagner’s Parsifal.

    • The tenor Dan Karlström made his debut at the Finnish National Opera as Tobias in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and since then has appeared as Yonas in Kaija Saariaho’s Adriana Mater and Pedrillo in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Since 2001, he has been a permanent member of the Leipzig Opera, where he recently played Mime in Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Monostatos in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. He has also played Goro in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly at the festival in Savonlinna and performed as tenor soloist in Mario Schröder’s ballet based on Bach’s St John Passion.

    • The Estonian bass Koit Soasepp changed career after 15 years in agriculture and after just one year of vocal studies, he made his debut at both the Estonian and Finnish National Operas. In Helsinki, he has since developed a broad repertoire including Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Pimen in Musorgsky’s Boris Godunov, as well as Titurel in Wagner’s Parsifal and the Priest in Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Most recently, he played the King in Verdi’s Aida and the Bishop in Jaakko Kuusisto’s Ice.

    • Jyrki Korhonen has been affiliated with the Finnish National Opera since 2001, and before that the opera houses in Wiesbaden and Darmstadt. He has several Mozart roles on his repertoire: Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Sarastro and Speaker of the Temple in The Magic Flute and as well as Bartolo in The Marriage of Figaro; and Wagner roles such as Fafner and Fasolt in Das Rheingold, Hermann in Tannhäuser and Hagen in Götterdämmerung. Soon he will be playing Arkel in Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande, Ramfis in Verdi’s Aida and Palémon in Massenet’s Thaïs.

    • After graduating with the highest marks from the Sibelius Academy, the soprano Marjukka Tepponen has performed with most Finnish orchestras and many major European ensembles. She made her debut at the Finnish National Opera in 2010 as Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, where she also played Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème, Corinna in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims and most recently, she played Mona Kummel in Jaakko Kuusisto’s Ice. She has worked at the opera houses in Graz and Seattle and at festivals in Rijeka, Bregenz and Savonlinna.

    • The Finnish opera singer Mari Palo has a unique and versatile repertoire that includes both Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Musetta in Puccini’s La Bohème, but also Tytti in Jaakko Kuusisto’s The Canine Kaleva, Vera in Olli Kortekanga’s Daddy’s Girl and Refka in Kaija Saariah’s Adriana Mater. She made her debut in 1999 at the Finnish National Opera where she played the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro, Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen and Marian in Jukka Linkola’s Robin Hood, and more recently she played Mona Kummel in Jaakko Kuusisto’s Ice.

    Programme

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  • 15:00

    NEOARCTIC

    Orionteatern

    Climate performance opera NeoArctic could not be more urgent. Following critically acclaimed tours to New York, London and Copenhagen, Hotel Pro Forma’s and the Latvian Radio Choir’s performance is coming to the Baltic Sea Festival.

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    The impact is powerful: An ocean of plastic billows on a large screen in the background. Twelve singers emerge, dressed in costumes associated with everything from the Inuit to tourists in black sunglasses – as if straight from a dystopian futuristic film.

    The wall of sound is compelling. Vibrating and trembling with disquiet under the skin of the audience, with the choir like a unison siren.

    The next image: Church bells and black-and-white images of an abandoned, ruined city.

    The acclaimed opera NeoArctic sucks us into an emotional centrifuge. We travel through post-apocalyptic landscapes – tsunamis, floods, melting glaciers – in order to, in the final scene, still enjoy a kind of forgiving, sacred music.

    If there was a genre called “activist performance”, then that is exactly what the audience will be witnessing in this poetic and alarming performance of the time we are living in right now: Anthropocene, the Age of Man. It is the proposed new geological epoch on earth that began, approximately, during industrialization in the 18th century, and which is characterized by the fact that we humans are responsible for the greatest changes to the climate – not nature itself.

    In terms of dramaturgy, the opera is made up of twelve songs, twelve soundscapes, twelve landscapes and a planet, with song titles such as Plastic, Dust and Infinity. British techno producer Andy Stott and the New York-based composer Kristus Auznieks, currently one of Latvia’s brightest stars, are responsible for the electronic accompaniment. The text was written by the Icelandic poet Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson, more commonly known as Sjón, a contraction of his first name and also the word “sight” in Icelandic.

    The work, which won the prestigious Danish Reumert Prize in 2017, emerged from a concept created by the Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma, in collaboration with the Latvian Radio Choir. The première took place at The Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen in May 2016. Earlier this year, it was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

    Hotel Pro Forma is one of Europe’s foremost performance groups. They have previously performed in Stockholm, with works including Calling Clavigo, at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in 2003.

    NeoArctic is the result of long-term research and exploratory work carried out by artists, scientists and others from various fields, with inspiration from the Anthropocene Project, a number of installations and research projects at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Since 2013, the Haus der Kulturen in Berlin has been exploring the new, revolutionary era we are currently living in through a mixture of modern art and pioneering research.

    Text: Ylva Lagercrantz Spindler

    Participants

    • Sigvards Kļava has been Artistic Director of the Latvian Radio Choir since 1992. He has worked with the leading choirs in Latvia as well as with RIAS Kammerchor in Berlin, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Radio Choir at MDR Leipzig, and many others. He has made over 20 recordings with the Latvian Radio Choir, and has had productive collaborations with Latvia’s major contemporary composers: Maija Einfelde, Erik Ešenvalds, Juris Karlsons and Pēteris Vasks, to mention but a few. Since 2000, Klava has been professor of conducting at the Latvian Musical Academy in Riga. As conductor, he has performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Berliner Philharmoniker, among others. He regularly acts as a judge on jury panels at international choral competitions.

    • The Latvian Radio Choir has purposefully taken on both the earliest music and the most innovative and newly written music equal impetus and artistic acuity. With their two conductors, Sigvards Kļava and Kaspars Putniņš, the choir has participated in opera performances and cross-over artistic projects, theatrical shows and much more over the past twenty years, in addition to their regular concerts. The choir has performed at a number of the world’s major festivals, including in Salzburg and Lucerne, at the BBC Proms, the White Light Festival, Soundstreams in Canada, and many more. Recordings of the choir are available on Ondine, Hyperion, Deutsche Grammophon and BIS.

    Programme