Elīna Garanča has sung in Verdi's Requiem at La Scala and in recital, but never performed in an opera. There was a planned Don Giovanni which she pulled out of when she became pregnant, and an opera was set up with Riccardo Muti which was then cancelled. This season she arrives for the Milan Expo season with three different engagaments: the Requiem with Riccardo Chailly, Mario Martone's production of Cavalleria rusticana, and Emma Dante's much disputed Carmen. Though it was subjected to boos and fischi Garanča, surprisingly, didn't watch a video of the production before agreeing to the engagement.
I haven't seen it, but it doesn't worry me. I don't want to over prepare myself and I'm curious to discuss with the director what her thinking was behind this version.
She was talking with Francesca Gamberini in the Corriere della Sera‘s Style magazine, who asked her about playing Carmen.
I'm an actress and my job is to find the key to playing the role without resorting to the usual clichés. Carmen is a prototype of a woman, but it's necessary to find your own way of playing her. In many portrayals her femininity is forgotten, especially when busty singers start putting their hands on their hips and wriggle around believing that they are being a kind of sex bomb.
The Latvian mezzo is the mother of two children:
Children, even the tiniest like my daughter Catherine Louise, must learn to be tidy, to put away their toys, and keep things clean. But they must also be left free to experience life: if they burn themselves with a candle it does no real harm, but it does teach a lesson.
Garanča applies the same severity to herself:
I have high standards, and hate not living up to them and wasting time. Being a mother has intensified this aspect of my character; there is nothing more important than the time spent with my children, so I weigh up carefully any decisions.
And decisions for the future include…?
Amneris in Verdi's Aida. For a mezzo-soprano it is the most rounded part to play. It's my Everest and in six or seven years time, before ending my career, I will play her. I'm sure of that.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.