Welcome to the Riga Opera festival!

Welcome to the Riga Opera festival!
24 June 2024

Founded in 1998, the Riga Opera Festival is a yearly tradition every classical music enthusiast should know about.

The festival in a nutshell

The festival takes place in June and closes the season of the Latvian National Opera. It generally starts at the beginning of the month and continues until Ligo, a traditional paganic Latvian celebration (see here). Throughout the month, the Latvian national opera in Riga hosts operas and ballets of all kinds, both traditional and contemporary, that had been showcased during the past year. It highlights major shows, some of which are old productions, while others will still be in the repertoire the following year.

The gala concerts

At the end of the month, two gala concerts conclude the festival. The second gala concert usually takes place at the Latvian Opera in Riga, while the other one is showcased somewhere else in Latvia. It is therefore a good opportunity to travel a bit around the country while enjoying a spectacular and unforgettable musical show. Cities which welcome the Opera Festival gala concert include Jurmala (Dzintari Concert Hall) and Jelgava (concert hall Mītava). These venues are open-air which gives the performance a sort of pastoral summer-like atmosphere. No need to say that both cities are very easy to get to from Riga, with trains running there and back every hour and taking between 30 to 45 minutes.

The 2024 edition

The festival kicked off this year on June 5th with Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlo. Among others, the programme also included L’elisire d’amore by Donizetti, Faust by Gounod as well as the Nijinski ballet with music by Chopin and Debussy. The first gala concert took place in Jelgava, at the open-air concert hall Mītava. The orchestra played famous pieces and was soon joined on stage by soloists from the Latvian National Opera. They sang world-known arias, including L’amour est un oiseau rebelle from Carmen by Bizet, arias from Verdi’s Rigoletto and the drinking song from La traviata. The concert being a festive moment, singers and musicians played with the auditorium, creating engaging, often playful performances.

Conclusion

I strongly advise anyone staying in Latvia in June to buy tickets for the gala concert. Even those who are not classical music and opera fanatics will surely enjoy the show made of all the most famous opera songs. While the gala concert in Riga offers the comfort and grandiloquence of the prestigious theater building, the open-air show offers a more picturesque experience. It is also a good opportunity to discover a new city. Jelgava was really fun, with beautiful parks, an impressive orthodox church and a lovely trail along the Lielupe river. The Mītava concert hall itself is charming, set above the river and accessible from a pedestrian bridge from which you can admire the colors of sunset as you return to the train station at the end of the concert. 

This blog was brought to you by Theo, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Riga

All pictures displayed in this article were taken by the author of the article.

 

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