PÄRNU INTERNATIONAL OPERA MUSIC FESTIVAL – PROMFEST
PromFest is the most unique opera music festival in Estonia, because the entire festival program is entirely created by the organizers themselves, not by combining existing projects (productions) as in normal practice festival programs are prepared. As part of PromFest, the only international competition for young opera singers takes place in Estonia, which is also, according to known information, the only international-scale competition that gives the previous winners the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and choose the opera role they would like to perform at the next festival. The choice of the new opera is up to the previous winner of the Klaudia Taev Competition for Young Opera Singers, which was first held in 1996 and is still the main event of the festival.
The opera performance is undoubtedly the most anticipated event for the PromFest audience. PromFest productions are characterized by the fact that we offer the opportunity to debut as an opera director to a talented Estonian creator who has never directed an opera before. In this way, the Estonian theater community has received several new talented opera directors (for example Linnar Priimägi, Marko Matvere, Mati Unt, Anu Lamp, Mai Murdmaa etc).
Productions mounted so far include “Rigoletto” by Verdi (2003), “Demon” by Rubinstein (2005), “Carmen” by Bizet (2007), “Thais” by Massenet (2009), “Attila” by Verdi (2011), “The Tsar’s Bride” by Rimsky-Korsakov (2013), “Aida” by Verdi (2015), “La Traviata” by Verdi (2017), “I Capuletti e I Montecchi” by Bellini (2019) and “Il Turco in Italia” by Rossini (2021). Every new opera project is created with young singers, with the aim of attracting the attention of young audiences.
The aim of the PromFest production team is to expand the boundaries of the opera genre with a new approach, creating productions that speak to modern audiences.
The new production of Jules Massenet’ “Cendrillon” will be the eleventh in a row. The title role is chosen and will be performed by the winner of the previous Klaudia Taev Competition (2021) Zuzanna Nalewajek from Poland. As part of the festival, in addition to the competition rounds and the new production of the opera, there will also be a master class guided by the head of the jury, various concerts and exhibitions, and lectures aimed at young singers.
Jury members and key personnel from well-known European and world opera theaters have come to Pärnu – people who determine the processes of the opera world and are now aware of the existence of Pärnu and Estonia. PromFest has featured such world-famous opera names as Barbara Hendricks, Irina Arkhipova, Sergey Leiferkus, Alexandr Vedernikov and Evgeny Nesterenko. Among others, the Lithuanian bass Vladimiras Prudnikovas, the Mariinsky Theatre tenor Alexandr Dedik and the legendary Estonian bass Mati Palm. Over the years, master classes for young opera singers have been conducted by such legendary singers as Edda Moser, Dolora Zajick, Teresa Zylis-Gara, Ileana Cotrubas, Karan Armstrong, Luana DeVol and Cynthia Makris.
The festival is a long-standing dream of the artistic director and founder Erki Pehk in which a definite format is offered to the director, the opportunity for the participants to dream boldly, and for the entire festival team the opportunity to fulfill everyone’s personal dream of creating something valuable and new. PromFest was created in order to broaden the creative opportunities for young opera singers, to bring high-level opera artists to Estonia, and to help develop the image of Estonia within the world of opera and thereby expand cultural tourism and bring younger generations of Estonians closer to opera.
PromFest has collaborated and will continue to cooperate with Pärnu City Orchestra, Endla Theater, Pärnu Arts House, and Pärnu Concert Hall in the future. PromFest has become an important cultural event for the city of Pärnu, which enlivens the cultural life of the region and offers the city’s people and guests a high-level opera music experience.