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Lilli Paasikivi to head the Bregenz Festival – tenure at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet will end next summer

Director of the Finnish National Opera and mezzo-soprano Lilli Paasikivi has been appointed as the Artistic Director and CEO of the acclaimed Bregenz Festival in Austria. She will start in her new role in Bregenz on the shore of Lake Constance on 1 October 2024.

”It’s a great honour to be appointed to this role. The reputation of the festival and its internationally acclaimed artistic partners provide an excellent foundation for curating diverse programmes of the highest standard. I’m impressed by the ambition, which has been driving the development of this festival for several decades, and I’m keen to make my own contribution to this admirable tradition. As a director, I aim to introduce new and interesting trends, while as a singer, opera and vocal music are of course always close to my heart,” Lilli Paasikivi says.

The international opera festival, which takes place in July and August each year, is one of the leading music events in Europe. It is particularly well known for its floating stage built on the lake. A total of four opera productions are performed in Bregenz yearly, complemented by concerts and spoken drama. In her new role, Paasikivi will be responsible for curating the programme and upholding artistic standards, as well as the administrative tasks of the CEO. Her five-year contract will continue until 2029.

Lilli Paasikivi’s 10-year tenure as the Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera will finish at the end of July 2023. Besides curating artistic content, she has also boldly reformed the operations of the Finnish National Opera. In addition to opera classics, her repertoires have comprised several operas by Kaija Saariaho, Sebastian Fagerlund’s Höstsonaten – Autumn Sonata, Richard Strauss’s Elektra, Salome and Ariadne auf Naxos as well as Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, the third part of which will premiere next March. She has attracted new audiences to the Opera House with Covid fan tutte, the international success of the pandemic era, the musical The Phantom of the Opera, and CircOpera, a fusion of circus and opera. The Opera Beyond project launched by Paasikivi explores the possibilities of new technologies and immersive solutions in performing arts.

”I’m very grateful for the years I’ve spent at the Finnish National Opera. It’s been incredibly inspiring to work as part of this dynamic and professional work community. I arrived at the company as a trainee soloist in 1995, and 28 years later I’m leaving it as an Artistic Director. Together we’ve created outstanding content for diverse audiences and developed the entire opera art form,” Paasikivi continues.

”Lilli’s long tenure has been exceptionally successful. She has the ability to curate opera repertoires of the highest artistic standard, which touch a chord with a wide variety of audiences and build the future of opera as a thriving art form. I’m delighted about her new appointment, not only for Lilli herself but also for Bregenz Festival. I’m confident that our collaboration will continue in the future, too,” says the General Director of the Finnish National Opera, Gita Kadambi.

The first festival programme curated by Lilli Paasikivi will be seen at Bregenz in summer 2025. As the Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera, Paasikivi will be succeeded by Thomas de Mallet Burgess, who will move to Helsinki from his role as the General Director (the artistic and organisational lead) at New Zealand Opera in August 2023.

Read more: Thomas de Mallet Burgess appointed as Artistic Director of the Finnish National Opera