Artist Of The Week: Tommi Hakala

Finnish Baritone Headlines New Ring Cycle

By Francisco Salazar

The Ring Cycle is one of the biggest operatic undertakings in the operatic repertoire. It’s always a special event especially when it is being shown in a new production. It’s a chance for a conductor and director to reinterpret the gigantic tetralogy and an opportunity for audiences to see something new from the work. Such a mammoth undertaking also allows for a company to line up some of the world’s greatest Wagnerians, many of them making role debuts as well as bringing signature interpretations to the production.

This week leading Finnish Baritone Tommi Hakala will sing his first Wotan in “Das Rheingold” and will also perform in “Die Walküre” and in “Siegfried” in coming productions. The baritone, who started his career performing the roles of Mozart when he debuted with the Finnish Opera in 1998, has recently moved in a new direction by taking on more dramatic German parts such as Orest in “Elektra” and Kurwenal in “Tristan und Isolde.” The move seems to have been a great switch as conductor Esa Pekka-Salonen has raved about his work thus far; he even noted that Wotan fits Hakala’s voice perfectly. Audiences will no doubt find out this season as he begins his Ring journey.

A winner of the 2003 BBC Singer of the World Competition in Cardiff, Hakala has garnered international acclaim in Finland as well as in Italy and Hungary and this season, outside of his Ring Cycle engagements, audiences will get to hear the baritone reprise his role as Victor in the opera he world premiered “Autumn Sonata.”  He will also perform at the Tampereen Ooppera in a production of “Carmen.” And for those who are not in Finland, the baritone’s first Ring Cycle will be live streamed on Stage24.


For those not familiar with the baritones voice, Hakala has a number of recordings including “Autumn Sonata” form the Finnish National Opera, Sibelius’ “Kullervo” and a solo album on Ondine.

Here is the baritone performing from “Andrea Chenier…”

…and here he is performing from “Don Carlo.”


Artist of the WeekNews