Estonian National Opera Boys' Choir

Estonian National Opera Boys’ Choir was founded in 1971 as the boys’ choir of the State Academic Men’s Choir. In 1997 the choir was adopted by the Estonian National Opera. For thirty years the choir was directed by its founder, Professor Venno Laul, until the appointment in 2001 of Hirvo Surva as Artistic Director. Chorus masters of the main choir are Maarja Soone and Andres Lemba, vocal teacher is Zoja Hertz, solfège teacher is Mall Ney, project manager Heidi Sibul and administrative director is Anne Ojalo. The conductors of the study choir are Jaanika Kuusik and Kaili Inno. The main choir operates on the mixed choir principle – the boys who have passed the voice breaking period will continue as tenors or bassos. The main aim of the choir is to promote and introduce the traditions of boys’ singing, the development of vocal and musical abilities of the boys and shaping their spiritual values. The Boys’ Choir functions as a choral studio with three different levels, so that altogether around 150 talented young singers study vocal music in our choir. For the more talented boys there are exceptional opportunities to sing in the productions of the Estonian National Opera, such as Puccini’s “Tosca” and “La bohème”, Bizet’s “Carmen”, Mascagni’s “Cavalleria rusticana”, Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci”, “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky and others. The male voices of the choir have sung smaller roles in the productions of the theatre, such as in Rips’ “Wunderkind”, Wagner’s “Parsifal”, Leigh’s “Man of La Mancha”, etc.

The choir has been received with acclaim not only in many European countries but also further afield like Canada, USA, Australia, Japan, etc. The choir has performed with success in such major works as Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem”, Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”, Mendelssohn’s “Paulus”, Tobias’ “Des Jona Sendung”, and many others. The choir gives about 40 performances a year, including concerts together with other music ensembles such as Estonian National SO, Estonian National Male Choir, Hortus Musicus, Estonian National Opera Orchestra, etc. Within the past 10 years, the most notable soloists performing with the choir have been Aile Asszonyi, Evelin Ojalo, Angelika Mikk, Oliver Kuusik, Kristjan-Jaanek Mölder, Heldur Harry Põlda.

The choir has frequently participated in renowned festivals and in international projects as well as projects organised by Estonian National Opera: the 5th International Boys’ Choirs Festival in Riga (2004), concert tour in Germany (2006, performances in the churches of Kiel, Hohenhameln and Marburg), Cantemus Choral Festival in Nyíregyháza, Hungary (2006), special guest at the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival (2007 and 2011), the world premiere of the “Russian Requiem” by Lera Auerbach in Bremen together with The State Choir “Latvija” and the Bremen Philharmonics (2007, conductor Tõnu Kaljuste), Concert in Kiev, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia (2008), performances of Russian Requiem by Lera Auerbach in Cuenca, Tallinn and Riga (2008), 1st International Boys & Men’s Choral Festival in Hradec Králové and Prague (2008), concerts within Saaremaa Opera Days Festival in the churches of Valjala, Kihelkonna, Mustjala and Muhu (2009), concert tour in Greece (2010), Festival Europa Cantat Junior (2011), Estonian National Opera International Music Day Opera Gala in Helsinki and Tallinn (2011).

In 2003 the choir was awarded the 1st prize at the Choir Competition of Estonian Male Choir’s Association and Llangollen Choir Competition in Wales. In 2005 the choir won two Golden Medals at the Olomouc Choir Competition (Czech Republic) and in 2006 the choir was awarded the Gold Prize in the Qualifying Competition at the Cantemus Choral Festival (Hungary).


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