Aarhus Sommeropera


Aarhus Sommeropera has developed from its humble beginnings as a "grass-roots" opera company in the late 1980s into one of Denmark's leading chamber opera companies. In recent years the Sommeropera has consolidated its position in the Danish cultural landscape and has also developed a notable international reputation. In the company's first 5 seasons only popular operas were performed, but since 1993 our repertoire has expanded to include both modern classics as well as specially commissioned operas. Since 2000, 60% of our repertoire has been modern Danish music-drama specially written for the company, and our results, especially in this field, have been highly acclaimed by critics and audiences alike. We are one of the few Danish companies which regularliy perform modern Danish music-drama.

Aarhus Sommeropera was formed in 1988 by Preben Bjerkø and Erik Kaltoft. The company's aim was to resurrect the tradition started in the 1960's of performing various popular operas during the summer months in Helsingør Theatre, part of the Old Town, a village-museum in Aarhus, Denmark. The company's first production was Cosi fan Tutte directed by Casper Koch and directed from the keyboard by Erik Kaltoft with sets and costumes by Annette Birch.

The principles established by Bjerkø and Kaltoft remain the cornerstones of the company today : first class professional opera in the intimate and atmospheric auspices of Helsingør Theatre, and the place for young talented singers to make their first steps on the road to opera stardom. Many of Denmark's leading singers have passed through stage door of Helsingør Theatre on their way to international acclaim. One of the earliest to do so was none other than baritone Bo Boye Skovhus who sang Don Giovanni in 1989.

Following Bjerkø and Kaltoft, the artistic directorship of the company fell to Troels Kold and Lars Ole Bonde from 1994-95, who changed the profile of the company by introducing more contemporary repertoire. Preben Bjerkø returned to the helm in 1996 for one season before Kasper Holten became artistic director from 1997-99. In 1997, due largely to the efforts of Lars Ole Bonde the company secured state funding, thus stabilising the company's economic situation. One of the company's major achievements during the period 1994-99 was the performance of all Britten's chamber operas - a feat which launched the company's international reputation.

Preben Bjerkø was, in his short tenure in 1996, responsible for the next major change in the company's profile. He commissioned an opera trilogy from Danish composer John Frandsen based on Svend Åge Madsen's fantasty novel "Tugt og Utugt I Mellemtiden" - and so Aarhus Sommeropera became also one of the country's leading centres for modern opera. "Tugt og Utugt I Mellemtiden" has now been premiered in its entirety, to great critical acclaim, in the summer of 2004. In 2001 Aarhus Summeropera recieved the ultimate Danish critical acclaim when the company won the Reumert Award for best opera for its production of "Cosi fan Tutte". Aarhus Sommeropera was again nominated for the same honour with "Die Entfürung aus dem Serail" in 2003, and again for the complete version of "Tugt og Utugt I Mellemtiden" in 2005. Today, the company normally performs one to two productions each year during the months of August and September, using a mixture of established, well-known principals together with young talented singers..

Board members:
Leif Balthzersen (Chairman); Martin Brandt Djupdræt (THe Old Town); Lars Thodberg Bertelsen; Hans Jørgen Ilum; Johannes Flensted-Jensen; Ole Hafström

Artistic director: David Riddell
Administrater: Lisbet Kristensen
PR co-ordinator: Christina Dahl
Lighting supervisor: Rune Tønnes
Produktion manager: Claus Madsen
House orchestra: The Danish Sinfonietta

Aarhus Sommeropera,
ved David Riddell,
Sven Dalsgaards Plads 1,
8900 Randers C, Danmark
Telephone +45 40537735
e-mail: somop(at)aarhus-sommeropera.dk