Things to do

Copenhagen Opera festival – making opera accessible for all

The Copenhagen Opera Festival runs from 30 July until 9 August. Run by Danish opera tenor Peter Lodahl – who has used his own extensive expat network to bring great new artists to the Danish Scene – and with both free and paying events, the 12 day festival leaves no excuse to NOT get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with this art-form.

By Bente D. Knudsen  Pictures: Mathias L. Bojesen, Niels Hougaard

For the 9th time the Copenhagen Opera Festival fills the streets and squares of Copenhagen.

Taking opera out of its ordinary locations and into accessible open-air venues – with artists performing both on canal-tour boats, bicycles, squares and beautiful centuries old locations such as Børsen – the old stock-exchange dating back to the 17th century.

New director this year is Danish opera-tenor Peter Lodahl.

Having lived and worked outside Denmark as an expat for many years, he has actively used these experiences in his preparations and castings for the opera-festival by bringing new upcoming opera stars to sing – with the ambition of heightening the quality of the opera singers performing.

“I think it is a great advantage for me that I have lived abroad – and that I still work a great deal outside Denmark. I have used the amazing international network I have gotten from these international experiences to bring new stars to the Danish scene,”says Peter Lodahl as he explains that it has been his ambition to keep the festival spirit – of being accessible to a wide audience – while at the same time bringing new elements to it.

Peter Lodahl now lives in Copenhagen with his German wife Katrin Weisser-Lodahl and their two children.

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You can read our interview with Katrin Weisser-Lodahl, a famous German TV- star, on what it is like to move to Denmark leaving behind a booming career to start a new life here – she performs next week at Nimb bar as instructor of her own opera piece Lonely House – a surprising mixture of opera and musical.

At Nimb bar – you do not need a Tivoli entrance ticket – so why not have a drink accompanied by great music and performance – on 1 and 2 August (ticket price includes a drink and snack) Read more about Katrin here.

One way of introducing opera and making it more accessible is to serve it for breakfast – literally as you can join in the sing along start of the day at 9:00 on the Wilhelm scene from 31 July to 4 August.

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The Wilhelm scene is located next to Torvehallerne and hosts both paying and free events  – take note though as Katrin Weisser-Lodahl says: “All the open air spaces allow audiences to listen in for free – outside the paying area as well, all you need to do is find a place to stand and listen.”

One of the magic – Danish inspired?- free opera events is the Opera Bicycle – performing under the motto; If the people don’t find their way to the opera, the Opera Bicycle will find its way to the people.

Wanting to take the audience into an unexpected format and away from big concert halls, deep orchestral pits, hushing seatmates, and ticket reservations made in uncommonly good time, the Opera Bicycle tours Copenhagen – performing Leoncavello’s mini opera Pagliacci – in Denmark just been called Bajadser (The Clowns).

A 125 year old classic it tells the story of a theatrical road company where intrigue runs wild and reality merges with illusion. Listen in for free on 30 July at 14:15 on Ophelia Plads, 31 July at 17:00 on  Sundbyvester Plads, 2 August at 17:00 in Enghave Parken, and 6 August at 14:00 in Valby Parken.

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Or why not take the Canal-tour Operetta Boat as it embarks on its journey in the heart of the canals of Copenhagen.

It sails twice a day and its programme includes well-known and well-loved pieces such as  The Beautiful Helena, The Gypsy Baron, Countess Maritza and even an American pearl, Oklahoma, is featured.

For great opera fans – why not check out the Stars of the future performances – where hand-picked, but unpolished talents get the chance to perform – on the Wilhelm stage – and be the first to hear the voices of tomorrow.

Visit the official festival site to see the full program and pick a few opera’s to tune in to – free or paying – the English language option makes it accessible for all as well. More information here.