King Roger

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July 2021



Place: Sicily

Time: 12th century

The story concerns the enlightenment of the Christian King Roger II by a young shepherd who represents pagan ideals.


Act 1

Often known as the "Byzantine" act

The Shepherd is introduced to King Roger and his court during mass at the Palermo Cathedral. Despite calls by the Archbishop as well as the crowd for his punishment as a heretic, Roxana, Roger's wife, convinces the King not to kill him. She implores him to pass a fair judgment on the Shepherd. Roger orders the young man to appear at the palace that night, where he will explain himself and submit to the King's judgement.


Act 2

The "Oriental" act, representing India and the Middle East

As instructed, the Shepherd appears at the palace gates. Roxana sings a seductive song which is clearly a response to the visitor, causing Roger to grow increasingly agitated. As the Shepherd is led in, he describes his faith in detail and soon almost the entire court joins him in an ecstatic dance. Roger attempts to chain him, but the Shepherd easily breaks free, and leaves the palace with almost all of those assembled following him. At first the King and his Arab advisor, Edrisi are left alone, but soon it is decided that Roger will join the Shepherd.


Act 3

The "Greco-Roman" act

In an ancient Greek theater, King Roger and Edrisi rejoin Roxana, who informs her husband that only the Shepherd can free him of his fear and jealousy. A fire is lit, and the Shepherd's followers commence another dance, while the Shepherd is transformed into Dionysus. As the dance ends and the participants leave the stage, Roger is left transformed by the experience, and sings a joyous hymn at the arrival of the morning sun.

Program and cast

Musical direction: Ville Matvejeff
Staging: Krystian Lada
Choir direction: Matti Hyökki

Olavinlinna Castle

​The Savonlinna Opera Festival performances are held in two locations. Main location is Olavinlinna Castle.


Olavinlinna (Swedish: Olofsborg; literally St. Olaf's Castle) is a 15th-century three-tower castle located in Savonlinna, Finland. It is the northern most medieval stone fortress still standing.

The castle is built on an island in the Kyrönsalmi strait that connects the lakes Haukivesi and Pihlajavesi.


Transport to Olavinlinna

Transport to the opera performances and concerts is provided (for a charge) from the main Savonlinna hotels to the Castle and back.
18.00 Malakias Summer Hotel (Hernemäki) 
18.10 Tott Hotel 
18.15 Seurahuone Hotel 
18.20 Spa Hotel Casino and Vuorilinna 
18.25 Pietari Kylliäinen Hotel 
18.30 Olavinlinna Castle, Linnankatu stop.

The return journey leaves the stop on Linnankatu for charter buses near the Castle 15 minutes after the end of the performance. 

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