History

Since the beginning in 2004, a series of the most loved operas of all time has been produced and performed in the peculiar opera house situated on the shore of lake Ljusnaren. Here, deep down in the Bergslagen forest, international opera stars have given the audience extraordinary experiences every year. The opera house used to be a storage place for timber, belonging to an old sawmill, and has unique acoustics and has given over 85 000 visitors memories for life.

Background

Sten Niclasson visited Skäret for the first time in 1996 and the idea of an opera house was born. During 1998 a pilot study was conducted by Forskarstation Bergslagen, Ljusnarsberg municipality, the county council, the county administrative board (Länsstyrelsen) and the European Union. The first test concert was performed in 1999, the foundation Kulturcentrum Ljusnarsberg was founded and a documentary film about the whole notion of Opera på Skäret was recorded. The documentary was broadcasted in the national public TV broadcaster SVT in 2003.

A collaboration with Örebro University was initiated and the foundation, with a little help from private fundings, Bergslagens sparbanksstiftelse, Ljusnarsbergs municipality, the paper producer Ahlströms and other donors, buys the property down att Skäret. The first real event is Skärets dag (Skäret’s Day) in the summer of 2003, with an opera concert and a circus performance for the children.

2004 – The birth of the opera festival

During the summer of 2004, two opera galas with international stars and orchestra is arranged at Skäret. The galas attract 1 500 visitors and marks the birth of the festival Opera på Skäret. A master class for young aspiring singers was arranged in collaboration with Örebro University. The class was led by the world renowned voice teacher Dan Marek from New York,

The society Skärets vännner (Friends of Skäret) was constituated, with the purpose of supporting the opera financially and also regarding public relations. Many sponsors get involved in the event and Cadillac is the first main sponsor of the opera house.

2005 – A focus on Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata is performed three times at the main stage, with internationally established artists such as Tito Beltrán, Charlotta Larsson and Guido Paevatalu. Svenska kammarorkestern (The Swedish Chamber Music Orchestra), one of Swedens finest orchestras, does a guest performance. The choir Bergslagens musikdramatiska kör, started by Sten Niclasson during the winter, have their first performance at Skäret.

On Lilla scenen, more intimate concerts is arranged and Dan Marek’s master class is running on its second year. Some renovation and reparation on the property is possible, thanks to an EU-project hosted by Örebro University and more financing from Ljusnarsberg municipality, Bergslagens sparbanksstiftelse and the county council.

 

2006 – Rigoletto becomes the first complete opera

Verdi’s Rigoletto becomes the first complete opera performance at Skäret and is performed six times. Tito Beltrán and Charlotta Larsson returns, accompanied by Christina Lindquist and the norwegian tenor Ole Jörgen Kristiansen. The orchestra Classic Chamber, conducted by Georg Lidström, contributes to the great success of the opera.

Besides Rigoletto, two concerts by the name of “Pearls of the Opera” and one gala concert with Svenska Kammarorkestern is performed. The choir Bergslagens musikdramatiska kör participates in the opera production as well as in the two concerts. The master class of Dan Marek is now a tradition.

At Lilla scenen there is a lot going on: seven shows of “Dan Andersson meets Mozart”, “Opera on percussion”, the piano concert “Virtuoso series”, “Önskearian” and more opera and chamber music.

The three vintage train rides from Stockholm was fully booked and special trains from Karlstad comes to a rescue. Many chartered busses arrive, all the way from Skåne in the south and Dalarna in the north.

2007 – Aida and a Swedish opera farce

The focus on Verdi is fulfilled with ten shows of Aida. Among the soloist this year, we find Stuart Neill, Charlotta Larsson, Gitta-Maria Sjöberg, Ingrid Tobiasson and Ole Jörgen Kristiansen.

At Lilla scenen, ten shows of the Swedish opera farce Kronofogdarne och Slåtterölet is being held. It’s a rediscovered classic that during the 1800s was performed at Humlegården in Stockholm. The festival also includes a concert with Svenska kammarorkestern and a performance by the Royal Swedish Army Band (Arméns musikkår). As usual, Dan Marek’s master class is held. New for this year is the small concert series in the opera café and during the evenings, an opera pub with live performances takes place.

Opera på Skäret also gets new main sponsors: The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and Kopparberg Invest. Spendrups’ brewery is now a sponsor as well. Package tours by train or bus expands to Stockholm, Norrköping, Västerås, Örebro, Karlstad and Oslo.

2008 – world premiere for 3D-technique on the opera stage

It’s Opera på Skäret’s fifth anniversary and with Puccini’s famous opera Tosca, the opera house also acknowledges his 150-year anniversary. Ten performances with Gitta-Maria Sjöberg, Sandra Lopez, Stuart Neill, Petrus Schroderus, Peter Kajlinger and Thomas Lander. Focus this year is now on expansion, but on higher quality. The groundbreaking 3D-projection technique by the Danish director and concept developer Mikael Fock, has a world premiere here at Skäret. Svenska Kammarorkestern is conducted by the young and very promising conductor Tobias Ringborg and Mathias Claeson is responsible for the costume design. Dan Marek returns for his fifth year of the master class.

2009 – The Cloak (Il tabarro)/Clowns (Pagliacci) and the return of the opera farce

Opera på Skäret is expanding. This years festival contains of three operas, 20 shows and many concerts and other events. All this is held during two months, 28th of June to 23rd of August. Just like previous years, great international opera stars stands side by side with new aspiring young artists.

For the first time the opera house invites the visitors to two one act operas in a dramatic evening performance: Puccini’s The Cloak (Il tabarro) and Leoncavallos classic Clowns (Pagliacci). The show was played ten times with international soloist such as John Horton Murray, Robert Hyman and Charlotta Larsson, as well as aspiring artists like Liine Carlsson, Daniel Hellström and Peter Haeggström, Tobias Ringborg and Erik Jakobsson conducts Stockholms nya kammarorkester, SNYKO.

At the request of the audience, the praised opera farce “Kronofogdarne och Slåtterölet” is back with ten shows on Lilla scenen. Dan Marek holds his master class for the sixth year in a row.

2010 – La Bohème with a sensational debut

Puccini is back for the third time at Opera på Skäret, and this time with his masterpiece La Bohème. The production puts up ten shows with international singers as the main characters. The swede Peter Kajlinger is doing his second big part at Opera på Skäret and the colombian tenor César Augusto Gutiérrez his first. They are accompanied by the young Russian soprano Yana Kleyn, who is doing a great, highly acclaimed, debut in Scandinavia.

The other parts are played by the Swedish singers Catarina Lundgren, Bo Rosenkull, Sami Yousri and Mikael Axelsson. Opera på Skärets  newly composed orchestra is conducted by the young and award winning conductor Andreas Lönnqvist.

The visitors pours in a steady stream during the festival and the concerts at Lilla scenen is sold out. La Bohème becomes the most popular production at the main stage so far. The package tours with vintage trains from Stockholm sold out in record time and extra carriages was connected to every train.

2011 – Carmen hits an all time high!

Probably the most performed opera in all of opera litterature, is produced at Opera på Skäret. Bizet’s Carmen is performed thirteen times and has more audience than any other production at the opera house.

Singers from five countries, with the Swedish mezzo-soprano Matilda Paulsson and the American world tenor Stuart Neill in the lead, makes this production our most international so far. The title roles is altering between them and Sandra Lopez, USA, and Kristian Benedikt, Lithuania. The Russian soprano Yana Kleyn returns and other international soloist is Rita Therese Ziem from Norway and the Englishman Alexander Grove. In the remaining parts we find Eva-Lotta Ohlsson, Johan Rydh, Andreas Lundmark and Liine Carlsson.

For the first time Opera på Skäret has an international conductor, Marcello Mottadelli from Italy. He has a great experience from many opera houses around the world and this year he conducts Opera på Skärets’ own orchestra. The festival hits an all time high with 10 500 sold tickets.

2012 – great success for Lucia di Lammermoor

Donizetti’s dramatic opera Lucia di Lammermoor becomes a new praised meeting, both audience and reviews, with soloists from Sweden, Spain, China, Hungary and Lithuania. An extra commendation was given to the Chinese soprano Yitian Luan who was making her first role in Sweden as Lucia. The role was also played by the Swedish Hanna Husáhr. Kristian Benedikt (Lithuania), Javier Palacios (Spain) and Levente Páll (Hungary) contributes to the international touch and the Swedish singers Anton Eriksson, Daniel Hällström, Ann Roach, Anders Håkansson and Kalle Leander makes this production a very successful one.

A concert series at Lilla scenen, pub nights in the opera café and a Dan Andersson-concert makes the festival complete. During the summer, a final concert by the newly founded Opera Academy (Operaakademien) was held. Operaakademien is an opera education that is a collaboration between Musikhögskolan in Örebro and Opera på Skäret.

2013 – the first comic opera on the main stage

Opera på Skäret is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a production of The Barber of Seville. This is the first comic opera being produced at the main stage and it’s performed eleven applauded times. This also means a Skäret-debut for Gioacchino Rossini, after Verdi, Puccini, Leoncavallo, Bizet and Dinizetti.

In honor of the ten year jubilee, Opera på Skäret has the strongest group of singers ever. Great stars from the past productions returns and new and exciting names have their debut; Omar Kamata and Aurora Tirotta from Italy, Pavel Yankovsky from Belarus, Dominique Moralez from the US, Ljudas Mikalauskas from Lithuania and the Swedish singers Martin Nyvall and Urban Malmberg, who normally sings on the great opera stages in Germany.

Svenska kammarorkestern is back at Skäret, this time led by the young conductor Andreas Lönnqvist. The orchestra is frequently hired around the world, but thanks to a close cooperation to develop the opera art in the region, between the opera and Länsmusiken i Örebro, it is possible to have them join us.

2014 – Verdi drama with opera superstars

The master of opera, Verdi, is back at Opera på Skäret and this time with the drama Otello, based on Shakespeare’s play about jealousy, love and betrayal. Over a hundred singers auditioned for the soloist parts and the end result was a thrilling mix of world renowned opera artists and young rising stars

In the role of the enchanter Otello, one of the opera litterature’s most difficult parts for a tenor, we find Michal Lehotsky from Slovakia and Richard Bauer from Brazil. Ole Jørgen Kristiansen, Omar Kamata, Charlotta Larsson and Kamila Benhamza plays the other great parts as Iago and Desdemona.

Even the production team had an international touch this year, as the British William Relton was Opera på Skäret’s first non-swedish director. He also brought in the costume designer Cordelia Chisholm and together they successfully orchestrated the dramatic atmosphere of Otello.

The critics loved the singers and orchestra as well as the stage-management and scenography. Some of the reviews said  “Astoundingly good”, “At the level of Plácido Domingo” and “Opera på Skäret has made it again”.

You can find more about the reviews here

2015 – Big international hit

Singers from over ten countries med a dramatic and flamboyant La Traviata, which made the production the most international so far. Regarding visitors, this was the second best summer, after Carmen, with 8 300 visitors. Over thousand of those who came, came with the special vintage trains from Stockholm.
Polish Ania Jeruc and American Jessica Rose Camio played the part of Violetta and they enthraled the audience during the twelve performances. Pavel Yankovsky from Belarus, Valdis Jansons from Latvia and Dominique Chenes from the US were some of the other international stars, who for the first time performed in front of the Swedish audience.

Yet again Opera på Skäret had the pleasure of having Svenska Kammarorkestern as their orchestra, and this year it was lead by Marcello Mottadelli.

You can find more about the reviews here.

2016 – ”An opera house made for Wagner”

It was time for another Opera på Skäret debut; it was time for Wagner. The production of The Flying Dutchman had not only an international touch, but a Scandinavian. Elisabeth Teige from Norway got splendid reviews from the critics, and so did her counterpart Brit-Tone Müllertz from Denmark. They were accompanied by the American Thomas Hall, Deniz Yilmaz from Turkey and the Danes Lars Möller and Magnus Vigilius

Svenska Kammarorkestern returned and this year conductor Michael Balke, a promising young man from Germany, gave the production the authentic feeling. 12 shows were made and over 7 000 people came to see the not too digestible Wagner. Almost 1 000 people came by the famous vintage opera train from Stockholm. The media were right, it is a house made for Wagner!

Reviews here.

2017 – “A top-class European musical experience”

The 12 performances of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly were attended by a total 8,700 visitors – an attendance fully in line with the record audiences in the summer of 2011, when the opera gave Carmen. Once again, this was an international production by Opera på Skäret. It was the European début of US director Leslie Swackhamer, and conductor Marcello Mottadelli returned to lead the Opera på Skäret Orchestra.

Elisabeth Teige, who achieved success in The Flying Dutchman in 2016, returned to Opera på Skäret in the title role. This was shared with soprano Sandra Janusaite from Lithuania. Norwegian Siv Oda Hagerupsen performed in the role of Suzuki. The production included other returning artists: Alex Tsilogiannis and Tadas Girininkas sang in Othello in 2014 and Anton Eriksson sang in Lucia de Lammermoor in 2012. Anton Eriksson shared the role of Sharpless with Javier Franco from Spain. The role of Pinkerton was formed by the Aaron Cawley from Ireland and Cody Austin from the US.

Nine sold-out trains carried over a thousand travellers from Stockholm directly to the opera and about thirty bus groups came from different parts of the country – the largest number to date.

Read more about the reviews.

You can find more about the reviews here.