Petteri Salomaa is one of the internationally most successful Finnish male vocalists of his generation. Coming from a musical family, he started his vocal studies while in his teenage years, and proceeded to complete a degree at the Sibelius Academy. His teachers included his father, Pekka Salomaa, and Matti Tuloisela and Matti Lehtinen. He has also studied abroad under teachers including Hans Hotter, Kim Borg, Erik Saedén, Eduardo Asquez, Armand MacLane-Lanier and Susanna Eken.
Salomaa’s career took off when he was just 19 by winning the men’s category of the Lappeenranta Singing Competition in 1981. This was soon followed by his operatic debut at the Finnish National Opera in 1983 as Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, as well as his first engagements on the international opera scene at the Ludwigsburg and Wexford festivals in 1985.
Salomaa performed regularly during 1986–92 at Drottningholms Slottsteater in Stockholm in the main roles of Mozart’s operas, among others. He appeared as Papageno in The Magic Flute in Geneva in 1987 and in Amsterdam in 1988. He made his debut in the United States in 1989 in Detroit as Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro.
Salomaa was engaged by the Freiburg Opera in 1989–91, and he was a regular performer at the Frankfurt Opera in 1992–93. His roles at Freiburg included Father in Hänsel and Gretel, Belcore in L’ elisir d’amore, Posa in Don Carlos, and the title role in Billy Budd. In Frankfurt his roles included Papageno in The Magic Flute, Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos, Count Robinson in Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto and Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte.
In 1995, he appeared in a production of King Arthur at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris for the anniversary of Purcell. This production, which was performed by Les Arts Florissants and directed by William Christie, was also performed at London’s Covent Garden and as a concert version in various cities in Europe and in New York in the US. Salomaa appeared in the role of Papageno at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 1994 and 1997.
During the latter half of the 1990s, Salomaa performed at various opera houses in Europe, and his performances included Alidoro in La Cenerentola in Dresden and Düsseldorf, Papageno at the Teatro Verdi in Trieste, Figaro in the Barber of Seville in Malmö, and as Marcello in La Boheme in Oslo. In 2000, he appeared at the Schwetzingen and Innsbruck festivals in Legrenzi’s opera La divisione del mondo and in 2003 in the role of the Captain in John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer at the Prague National Theatre.
The Finnish National Opera premiered Erik Bergman’s opera Det sjungande trädet (The singing tree) in 1995 with Salomaa in the lead baritone role, after which the work transferred as a guest production to the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1999. Since then, he has performed regularly at the Finnish National Opera in the most important baritone roles, which have included the title role in Don Giovanni, Pasquale in Haydn’s Orlando Paladino, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, the Captain in John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer, Dandini in La Cenerentola and Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore. In 2003, Salomaa performed the role of Don Alvaro in Dario Fo’s version of Rossini’s opera Il viaggio a Reims, which received a rapturous reception.
Petteri Salomaa has also performed extensively as an oratorio and orchestral soloist. He has not only worked with Finnish orchestras, but also with the most prominent orchestras in the Nordic region and as a soloist with several of Europe’s and America’s leading orchestras. This impressive list includes performances with the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Swedish and Danish radio symphony orchestras, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, London Classical Players, the Orchestre de Théâtre de Champs-Élysées, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the German Philharmonic Orchestra Rhineland-Palatinate, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.
Salomaa has worked with several of the most important conductors of our age, including some of the legendary names of the older generation such as Paavo Berglund, Eric Ericson, Neeme Järvi, Herbert von Karajan, Sir Neville Marriner, Sir Charles Mackerras and Alberto Zedda. Included in this list are several of the leading figures in the field of ancient music, such as William Christie, Alan Curtis, John Eliot Gardiner, Thomas Hengelbrock, Philippe Herreweghe, Roger Norrington and Arnold Östman. Salomaa has also worked with some of the most prominent opera and orchestra conductors, including Donald C. Runnicles, Stefan Soltesz and Marcello Viotti as well as with a great number well-known Finnish conductors such as Okko Kamu, Juha Kangas, Hannu Lintu, Olli Mustonen, Sakari Oramo, Ari Rasilainen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Leif Segerstam, John Storgårds, Ulf Söderblom and Osmo Vänskä.
Frequent performances as a lied singer are also part of Salomaa’s diverse artistic portfolio. He has performed regularly at Finnish chamber music festivals and in European concert halls and festivals. The line-up of pianists that have accompanied Salomaa include the likes of Ilmo Ranta, Tuija Hakkila, Olli Mustonen, Gustav Djupsjöbacka, Eero Heinonen and Hartmut Höll. His repertoire covers an impressive spectrum of the most important German lied literature, Russian, French and British repertoire as well as classical Nordic and Finnish vocal literature, extending to the latest Finnish vocal music and songs and song cycles that have been composed for him.
Petteri Salomaa’s recordings number more than thirty and many of them have been the recipient of international awards. His recordings include several major opera roles such as Figaro in the Marriage of Figaro, Antonio in Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix, Count Robinson in Cimarosa’s Il matrimonio segreto and Prince Hatt in Bergman’s Det sjungande trädet (The Singing Tree). Among his other recordings are solo roles in oratorios and passions such as the bass solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Elijah in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, the bass arias in J.S. Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion, as well as Jésus in Frank Martin’s Golgotha. Salomaa’s recorded works also include several chamber music recordings and opera performances on DVD.
In addition to his career as an artist, Salomaa has held elected positions within the arts sector and worked as a pedagogue. He was Professor of Vocal Music at the Sibelius Academy from 2003–2008, and currently holds the post of Visiting Professor of Singing at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. He has also given numerous master classes in Finland and abroad. Salomaa graduated as a Doctor of Music from the Arts Study Programme of the Sibelius Academy in 2003. As a leading Finnish expert on singing and the opera, he has acted as a member of the jury for several Finnish and international competitions, and has appeared as an expert on radio and television as well as in other capacities. He was artistic director of the Sysmä Summer Sounds festival from 2000–2006.
Petteri Salomaa’s beautifully melodic voice, versatile musicality and eloquent artistic ability have made him a very popular baritone who performs regularly on the international opera and concert stage. Recently, his repertoire has expanded to even include some works originally written for tenor, such as the demanding song cycle by the Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin, My Age, My Wild Beast, and the role of Ulysses in Monterverdi’s opera Il ritorno d’Ulisse in
patria, which he performed to great success at Drottningholms Slottsteater in summer 2008.