Aarhus Summer Opera 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 Summeropera 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 two productions each year during the months of August and September, using a mixture of established, well-known principals together with young talented singers..
Click here for a list of productions from 1988 to 1999
Aarhus Sommeropera, ved David Riddell, Værket, Mariagervej 6, 8900 Randers, elnmark
Leif Balthzersen (chairman); Martin Brandt Djupdræt (The Old Town); Lars Thodberg Bertelsen (employee rep.);
Hans Jørgen Ilum (Randers Chamber Orchestra); Ingrid Haaking Raaby (DJMK); Ole Hafström (Friends of Aarhus Sommeropera)
Artistic Director: David Riddell
Administrater: Lisbet Kristensen
PR co-ordinator: Henriette Hemmingsen
Lighting supervisor: Rune Tønnes
Production manager: Claus Madsen
Tlf. +45 40 537735
Cosi fan tutte 1988
Cosi fan tutte 2000