TALK 16.00 – Marija Ručevska (LV) in conversation with Māris Gailis (LV)

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. The evening’s conversation is from Riga, and the guests are young super-entrepreneur Marija Ručevska, who has developed a sustainability currency, 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.

Don’t miss the performance opera NEOARCTIC at the Orionteatern theatre. (NB! Not included in the day festival pass, tickets are bought separately.)

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



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.

Marija has over 5 years of experience in building tech startup ecosystems across the Baltics. During the time she has also co-founded and served as a CEO at TechChill Foundation, a startup community non-profit that hosts the leading Baltic Tech event every February and brings together most promising startups and innovators from across the region. Apart from the event, TechChill’s main focus is to serve as an international voice for Latvian startups globally and place the Baltic region on the European tech map. Marija is an active advisory member for the Latvian government when it comes to crafting the overall nation’s strategy towards IT and tech. She is a passionate ambassador for Baltic tech and works to help the region gain visibility in order to attract foreign talent, smart investment and media attention that it deserves. Currently, Marija has co-founded another venture – – a company aiming to fight climate change by offering global scale solution – a creation of a new type of economy (sustainable one) based on a digital asset-backed currency trusted and accepted by large economies. Marija believes in social entrepreneurship and is proud of everyone who works towards building a more sustainable future.

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.

Concert length: 2 hours 40 minutes (no interval)

BALTIC SEA FESTIVAL TALK 16.00 – 16.45, Berwaldhallen, livestreamed from Riga

Marija Ručevska (LV) in conversation with Māris Gailis (LV)

The evening’s conversation is live-streamed from The National Library in Riga. During the conversation Marija 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 Marija, who navigates the digital world with a super-high awareness of sustainability, will join in a discussion about where we are heading and what actually matters. Both Marija and Māris are instrumental for a number of important processes in Latvia, an EU state with a 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. Sweden’s Radio’s Fredrik Wadström will be part of the conversation as a moderator.