About the Riga Opera Festival
The Riga Opera festival was first founded in 1998 in Eastern Europe. This has become a treasured tradition based on its grand size and scale. The festival is a much-anticipated attraction by both the Latvian natives and opera lovers worldwide. These form a majority of the Riga Opera fans. This cherished tradition takes place at the Latvian National Opera House and starts June 5th and ends on June 18th. The tickets already start selling in early January as people are eager to pre-book rather than miss the much awaited event.
In the 2015 edition of the Opera festival many of the performances were dedicated to the Italian composer – Giacomo Puccini. Viewers even witness the brightest Latvian and foreign opera stars. Namely Maija Kovaļevska, Liene Kinča, Kosma Ranuer, Murat Karahan, Egils Siliņš, Dmytro Popov, Hiromi Omura and Eric Fennell. Even if you are not particularly interested in opera performances, you can still visit the beautiful architectural site of the venue. The Lativian National Opera House is indeed a masterpiece of the 19th century. There are many different tours that you can take such as the backstage tours, the summer tour or even the special lecture tours. The musicologist, Mikus Čeže guides you and you can learn about Richard Wagner who lived in Riga.
What is the Latvian National Opera?
Latvian National Opera and Ballet (LNOB) is an opera house and opera company at Aspazijas in Riga at boulevard 3. Here the opera and ballet performances are delivered during the season lasting from mid-September to the end of May. For any specific season the LNOB is expected to present 200 opera performances and 6 new productions. The largest is the Great Hall consisting of 946 seats. Meanwhile the smaller ones are the New Hall, the Dress Circle Hall and the Red Hall. These have a maximum seating capacity of 338, 170 and 100 in the given sequence.
LNOB is situated along the Riga Canal near the Freedom Monument. It employs an approximate of 600 workers. Egils Siliņš, a very famous opera singer became the chairman of the board on 5th November 2019. Mārtiņš Ozoliņš, an associate professor at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music became the chief conductor in 2013. Aivars Leimanis has remained the artist director since 1993. Here you can expect to observe top-notch classical or modern opera and ballet performances. Children’s operas and the original Latvian productions are all well-presented.
Viewing the home of opera and ballet at Riga is always a worthwhile site. A tour guide will show you through the building, enjoying its vibrant history and architecture. This grand building was initially unveiled to the public in 1863. Its main purpose originally was to be constructed and utilized as the Riga City Theater. This was all a major contribution according to the design of architect Ludwig Bohnstedt (St Petersburg).
Nevertheless tragic circumstances befell this framework when it caught fire in 1882. This caused major damages to the Latvian National Opera House for the Riga Opera Festival. However, the reconstruction process for the building ensued. It was overseen by Riga’s chief architect Reinholds Smelings. Furthermore the building was later handed over to the Latvian National Opera in 1919. It wasn’t until 1922 that the first professional ballet ensemble in Latvia joined the opera troupe.
Performances at the Riga Opera Festival
The Latvian National Opera and Ballet have tried to maintain the classical and romantic opera and ballet traditions. Even then the contemporary styled performances are kept on the forefront too. This is done by introducing five new opera and ballet productions each year. Many popular stars have launched their musical careers at the Latvia National Opera House. These include Andris Nelsons, Elina Garanca, Divas Kristine Opolais, Marina Rebeka, and tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko. They have all captivated audiences in world’s major opera houses.
This event is a great breakthrough everytime these Latvian stars return to their homeland to portray their talent and perform. For instance the Riga-born ballet superstar Mikhail Baryshnikov made an epic return to his birthplace in 2015. He intended to participate in “Brodsky/Baryshnikov” at the New Riga Theater. The show was directed by the world-famous Alvis Hermanis. Riga Opera Festival is a much-appreciated tradition by Latvian citizens and the opera lovers who travel from abroad to watch such exquisiteness. The latest productions are posted every summer season at the Latvian National Opera and Ballet.
Some Note-worthy Performances at the 2021 Riga Opera Festival
This is a ballet by Wojciech Kilar and Paweł Chynowski after the motifs of Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula.” When the Count Dracula is returning from war he hears of his wife’s unfortunate death. The suicided and the clergyman refuses to bury her in the hollow ground. The dracula turns into an immortal vampire in search of vengeance as he curses both God and humanity for his loss. Several centuries later the vampire falls in love with Mina, a doppelganger of his dead wife. However he is ill-fated and their tragic love story doesn’t stand strong before adversity. Their inhuman love brings death and suffering altogether.
This is an opera by Gioachini Rossini. The music director and conductor is Peter Halasz. Ramiro finds himself in a situation where he needs to get married if he wants to inherit the theater from his dead father. This is because the King’s Follies theater was once considered the most distinguished venue in New York. However the style now seems outdated and its performances like lost glory. Alidoro, who is Ramiro’s legal advisor, suggests that he marry the stepdaughter of Don Magnifico, the owner of the Button Club. This is a run-down burlesque show. This would be a good strategy to improve their theater business. Meanwhile, Angelina (Cenerentola), Magnifico’s stepdaughter, is taking care of her sisters and other performers of the Button Club. Nevertheless she dreams of designing sets and costumes for the theater. It is Angelina’s creative vision and ambition that makes her a great partner in Ramiro’s business. But it is her attractive persona that makes him fall in love with her too.