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Copenhagen Opera festival – making opera accessible for all

Back from your holidays this week, you will find that the Copenhagen Opera Festival fills the streets and squares of Copenhagen.

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By Bente D. Knudsen

The Copenhagen Opera Festival is a fantastic opportunity for both those who already love this artform but also for those novices who would like to learn (or rather hear) more about it. Why? Because several performances are free of charge – thus inviting novices to explore at low cost.

This year the Festival Stage will once more be set up on The Red Square (Den Røde Plads), in the neighbourhood of Nørrebro, which will be the festival home for family events and classic opera performances.

Admission is free for all the performances on the Festival Stage.

The festival is a recurring event and every year the Copenhagen Opera Festival tries to challenge and explore new ways to make opera relevant also to citizens of the 21st century thus aiming to attract new audiences to this old artform.

Running from 11 to20 August, the festival presents more than 90 performances and events in venues all around the city.

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The programme includes classic operas interpreted with a contemporary vision, new commissions and world premieres, concerts and productions featuring world-renowned soloists, conductors and directors and has performances for all the family.

The Opening Concert will take place on 12 August on the Festival Stage. An event free for all.

Host Mathias Hammer will guide the audiences through a varied programme of popular arias and duets with guest star soloists. International Star, Stephen Milling will demonstrate the sound and range of one of the world’s best bass voices, whilst the great talent Simone Victor will take the audience soaring into the coloratura soprano range.

Audience Prize Winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World 2023, Colombian Julieth Lozano Rolong also performs at the opening concert with Swedish mezzo soprano Emma Sventelius, accompanied by pianist and conductor, Leif Greibe.

For those who enjoy dancing – hang on until the evening ends with a groove session for all to enjoy led by dancer Jens Schyth Brøndum.

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The Festival Stage will also present performances such as ‘Opera’ – The Opera!, The Alehouse Sessions, The Undoing of Carmen, new family opera Time’s Up, Kong Knud!, the Vocal Masterclass Singers Concert, Morning Song, Syng Højt! with The Goldschmidt’s Music Academy and Bilal IRshed Trio with Henrik Goldschmidt.

One of the highlights of the festival is Brødre-Brothers, which is an interpretation of the film by Susanne Bier and it will be staged at Tunnelfabrikken.

Another highlight is the Yellow Wallpaper. This is a work based on the book by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. And it is about postpartum depression, isolation and all the difficulties women face.

There are many sopranos and mezzo soprano performances, motherhood stories of loneliness and depression performed, composed, and/or directed by talented female artists.

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Another fun opera experience is the opera canal tour boat, arias on the canal and vocal tricks worth all the money.

The canal-tour ShowBoat 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 as, in keeping with tradition, it goes half-way around the globe.

With an imaginative program and an ever-changing urban-historical set design, audience is guaranteed a special summer afternoon in great company.

Sopranos Lisbeth Rasmussen Juel and Anna Vaupel will amaze with hand-picked opera highlights while the boat will travel through the beautiful Copenhagen canals.

The compass this year is set on the mermaids of music, theater, film and song – the alluring, enigmatic characters often surrounded by seduction and love, as in the opera Rusalka or Heise’s Mermaid Songs.

The Showboat will present a wide repertoire from Puccini and Bent Fabricius-Bjerre to Sebastian and many more as it glides through Langelinie, Christianshavn and Holmens Kanal.

Soloists will be accompanied by the pianist Charlotte Thaning. This year again the concept and staging are done by Simon Duus.

The Showboat is the successor to the popular Operetta Boat that for a decade entertained audiences with arias, duets and fun on the water.

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.

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