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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Finland Series at FinnishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Finnish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 22, Savonlinna Opera Festival. In Finnish, it’s called Savonlinnan oopperajuhlat.
The Savonlinna Opera Festival is a month-long opera festival, arranged every summer at the city of Savonlinna. The Opera Festival takes place at the medieval Olavinlinna castle, which is also known as St.Olaf’s Castle in English. In this lesson we'll take a look into the background of the Savonlinna Opera Festival.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
There are many stories related to the medieval Olavinlinna castle. Do you know which tree is associated with the most famous story?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The first Savonlinna Opera Festival was held by the opera singer, or oopperalaulaja, Aino Ackté, in the year 1912. International opera star Ackté wanted to promote Finnish opera culture, and after visiting the Olavinlinna castle, which was in her own words, surrounded by "supernaturally lovely lake scenery", she got the idea to set up an opera festival there. However, the Opera Festival ended up in financial troubles in 1930, when the event faded away for a 37-year period.
However, in 1967, the event was started once again, and these days the festival has grown into a month-long, internationally renowned opera festival.
The Savonlinna Opera Festival is held in the medieval Olavinlinna castle. The city of Savonlinna is located in Eastern Finland and more than a third of the city's surface area consists of waters and islands. Olavinlinna castle, which was built in the 1400s, is also located on an island, surrounded by water. Made of wood and stone, the castle is Europe's northernmost medieval stone castle, or kivilinna in Finnish. Today, the castle is a very popular destination to visit and is open all year round.
There’s no official dress code, or pukukoodi, for the Savonlinna Opera Festival so the atmosphere at the festival is usually relaxed. The medieval Olavinlinna castle, however, sets some requirements that people bring warm attire—it may be chilly, or viileää in Finnish, in the castle even in the summer, and the corridors and floors of the ancient castle are uneven.
Classic operas such as The Magic Flute, or Taikahuilu, and Boris Godunov, are presented at the opera festival, as well as premieres for new Finnish opera. Foreign opera houses have also visited the Savonlinna Opera Festival since 1987.
In addition to the classics, one can find a number of operas suitable for the whole family. For example, fun Koiramäki-, or “Doghill”, operas, which are based on the children's books by writer and illustrator Mauri Kunnas, tell stories of a dog’s life in a fictional 1800s village.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
There are many stories related to the medieval Olavinlinna castle. Do you know which tree is associated with the most famous story?
The stories of Olavinlinna castle tell about secret passages and mythical creatures living in the water. A well-known legend tells the story of a maiden, who was buried in the castle wall, and of a rowan, in Finnish pihlaja, that sprouted from her resting place. Interestingly, at one point there actually was a rowan growing from the castle wall!
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever been to the opera?
Leave us a comment at FinnishPod101.com, and see you again in the next class!