Director Mart Koldits about the opening performance at Gaudeamus, “It’s going to be one epic, symphonic open air spectacle!”


On 22 June, starting at 11 pm, the banks of Emajõe River, the arched bridge and the river will be filled with a spectacular play of light and symphony. The opening performance, which will include the best pieces from the famous cantata “Carmina Burana”, will also be attended by the Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and the presidents of five European states.

The EV100 programme event brings together light arts, music, choral music and dance to form a unique spectacle, the likes of which have never been seen in Tartu before.

The performance of “Carmina Burana” will include a grand stage performance complete with dances, magnificent costumes, decorations, light, water and pyrotechnical effects – just as the author of the piece Carl Orff imagined. The performance has been created in cooperation with the best audio, video and light artists in Estonia, and the public will see a spectacle the likes of which have never been seen before in Tartu.

With Tõnu Kaljuste as the conductor, the best pieces from the cantata will be performed by the UT academic women’s choir, the Tartu academic men’s choir, the University of Tartu chamber choir, the University of Tartu symphony orchestra, the Tallinn University symphony orchestra, and the Tallinn University of Technology academic women’s choir.

The opening ceremony is directed by Mart Koldits (on the photo), the author of the fire sculptures is Tiiu Kirsipuu, the musical director is Edmar Tuul, the video artist is Alyona Movko, the light artist is Ringo Muhhin, and the performance director is Indrek Leht. The opening ceremony is free of charge to all.

Dances, costumes, symphony orchestras, and light and fire effects

“Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” is very well suited for this festival dedicated to Midsummer’s Day, because it talks about the circle of life – exactly like Midsummer’s itself. Things are created, they blossom, they disappear, and the circle starts once again. Midsummer’s is also about spring, blossoming, partying hard, celebrating the end of work,” commented director Mart Koldits.

Characteristically for the summer solstice, fire also has a central role in the opening performance. “There will definitely be fire, it will be a theme that is played with throughout the whole performance. Fire symbolizes destruction as well as rebirth, and we will tell that story using grand fire sculptures and fireworks,” said Koldits.

The closed nightclub Atlantis will come to life once more

Koldits promises that the legendary former night club Atlantis will also be part of the performance, although it has closed its doors. “We can use that place very well, because it is also connected to the overall theme. Tartu is, after all, the cradle of university life – this is where people start their independent life, where they party. The performance will take place in front of Atlantis, in it, as well as on the arched bridge and the river,” explained the director.

Koldits assures us that even though the public is expected to be large and the banks of the Emajõe River are not that wide, the public doesn’t have to fear missing out on seeing something. “Atlantis has very large windows that we are using, in addition to cameras and large screens. This will be an epic, symphonic open air spectacle, and it is definitely worth coming to see it in person,” added Koldits.

The opening performance will be preceded by a night time procession with 1000 torches

Before the opening performance, which will start at 9 pm, the thousands of Gaudeamus performers will meet at Kassitoome, to light the festival fire and start the procession of torches. The lighting of the fire will be led by the University of Tartu Academic Women’s Choir and the University of Tartu Academic Men’s Choir, with maestro Vaike Uibopuu and maestro Alo Ritsing, who were also both present at the birth of the first Gaudeamus.

A “time wheel” made of straw will be built in the Kassitoome valley, and it will be the chants and spells of the choirs that will set it ablaze. The “time wheel” will in turn become the festival fire, giving the spark to light thousands of smaller torches. A flame from this fire will also burn for the entire duration of the festival in the Tartu City Hall.

On the night of June 24th, the torch will be passed to Lithuanians, who in four years will organise the next Gaudeamus festival.

Photo: Artistic group Department of Desires (Ihade Osakond)