Have you ever had a chance to enjoy modern opera inspired by young talents?
We had the pleasure and an honour to speak with Katherine Haataja, Finnish mezzo-soprano, and the founder of our partner festival Operosa, promoting young opera singers and contemporary interpretation to the modern audience.
OPEROSA FESTIVAL – INTERVIEW
We are inviting you to enjoy our casual talk in the interview below which we hope will inspire you to visit us next summer, when Operosa is preparing more surprises, as usual!
Katherine Hataaja, welcome to our blog section, let’s start!
LB Team: How it all started? How you got this great idea with Operosa?
Katherine: I am an opera singer, and I trained in Paris. Because of my husband’s work, we travelled quite a bit, and we ended spending years in the Balkan region. I explored and initiated Operosa Foundation, as I felt that young talents and singers didn’t have enough opportunities. You know how it goes – young singers would love to get a job, but then the opera companies are reluctant to engage young opera artists due to a lack of stage experience. So, the purpose of Operosa is to promote young talents!
Then, I found out that Montenegro, a European country, has no national opera, and it was quite extraordinary for me. Just after it, I discovered Kanli Kula and Forte Mare, and I had to do it! (laugh)
The first production was quite a risk as we didn’t know how Kanli Kula is going to work acoustically because, as you might know, proper opera is never done with microphones. Luckily, it worked perfectly, and since then, it just blossomed.
LB Team: Great fortresses around Montenegro are quite a heritage, we would agree! You are giving a special valorisation to them with Operosa – we are very thankful for it! Assuming that you are providing space for young talents, could you tell us how that works? How do you get in touch with them?
Katherine: I established Operosa back in 2006, and after all these years, we have a reputation with numerous productions behind us. We are now an international opera festival, so young professionals are also reaching out. Furthermore, we are part of the opera network ENOA, which invited us to join as we share the same mission of promoting the young opera, we provide insights from the Balkan region. Through these networks, we have open calls that are published on our website and social media, and then we do auditions. We organise the educational part of the festival too, with numerous workshops, masterclasses and similar. This is what attracts innovative, future-looking artists who want to get away from the old-fashioned concept of opera. This concept of opera cannot survive as such, as young people are rarely going to opera houses today. Operosa is different! As you know, one of our performances goals is to have concerts in unusual places. It creates unforgettable memories, and it’s bringing opera to the modern and young audience.
LB Team: When it comes to young artists – do they follow your opinion? Do they feel the same about modern opera?
Katherine: It depends on many things. There are many different opera companies and opera styles, with contrasting means, backgrounds, traditions. Operosa still works with limited means, but we are very creative. I believe this creativeness led us to some extraordinary things, and of course, we are striving for more support every day.
In Montenegro, for instance, we had great support from the former Ministry of tourism and sustainable development, and that created the opportunity for a new target of tourists who are coming to Montenegro today. We collaborate with many travel agencies around Europe, which are specialised in travel arrangements for people who travel for opera. They are reaching out to us, getting their opera tickets, and we are further recommending hotel companies and other services. Opera tourism is something I want to elevate to the next level when it comes to collaboration with Lustica Bay, which by the way, is of great importance for us, and we appreciate it!
LB team: Creative, indeed! We can remember how you did electro-opera in The Chedi Lustica Bay opening back in 2018 – it was massive! How did that happen? Who came up with this idea?
Katherine: The initial crazy idea was mine! (laugh) But we defined it with our team into the wonderful performance you saw. Every year we switch themes, and we always aim to be different. We push boundaries and challenge ourselves every day, and so I thought that it would be great to use very famous opera arias and combine them with a DJ set. It felt like the movie Fifth Element – aliens singing opera! We wanted to show that opera can be like this as well, not just old-fashioned!
LB team: Wow! We can only imagine the surprises that future editions will bring!
Katherine: For the next year, we already have this great idea with the Vivaldi theme. We also want to introduce the themes from the other parts of the world, like Nordic classical music and show a display of different characters of what opera can be like. This is a sneak peek, but it will be something that will shape the next year’s edition. Among those, we also want to display Montenegrin classical music!
LB team: For the end of this talk, what are your impressions about the collaboration with Lustica Bay?
Katherine: For us, the collaboration with Lustica Bay is of great importance, and we appreciate the opportunity and support we are receiving from you, not to mention how happy we are to perform in your stunning village and around the peninsula. We are sure that this collaboration will only grow, and that Lustica Bay will become one of the famous spots in the Mediterranean that will also attract opera tourism.
Thank you, Katherine! It was inspiring and beautiful to talk to you and feel the passion that drives this festival! We hope that our readers will feel this energy and visit us next summer at some of your wonderful performances!