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Finnish Soprano Riikka Hakola has Died, Aged 61

Hakola, who sang with The Finnish National Opera for over 20 years, has passed away from a brain tumor


Born in 1962, Riikka Hakola studied at the Sibelius Academy before continuing private studies in London, Berlin, New York, and Milan.

Winning top prizes at the Kangasniemi and the Timo Mustakallio Vocal Competitions in 1987, she made her debut with The Finnish National Opera, where she later performed for over two decades.

Hakola performed in 35 countries across four continents, working with artists such as singer Plácido Domingo, pianist Ilkka Paananen, and conductors Hannu Lintu, Gianandrea Noseda, Paavo Järvi, and more. 

She was best known for her role as Violetta in La Traviata, which she performed many times across ten opera houses including the Finnish National Opera, Stockholm and Copenhagen Royal Operas, Oslo National Opera, and the Bolshoi.

She also performed many world premieres of contemporary music from composers including Eero Hämeenniemi, Jukka Linkola, Erkki Salmenhaara, Paavo Heininen, Timo-Juhani Kyllönen, and Markus Fagerudd.

Among the additional ensembles she worked with include Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Düßeldorfer Symphoniker, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, London School Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.

In 2015, Hakola founded the Ehrenburger Operntage Festival in Germany, where she served as an artistic director, screenwriter, stage director, and performer until 2018. 

She also served as a jury member at the 2008 Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský, the 2023 Virgilijus Noreika, and the Klaudia Taev International Competition International Singing Competitions. 

“In September 2023, Riikka was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a brain tumor that proved impossible to cure,” Hakola’s family wrote in a statement. “During her illness, she was surrounded by family members and close friends. She told her loved ones that she was grateful that she has been able to live a great, versatile, and full life, and having a career in music which she so loved. We will greatly miss her bright and empathetic personality, her sense of humor and joyful approach to life.”

Our condolences to Ms. Hakola’s family, friends, students, and colleagues.

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