In Revive, her latest album for Deutsche Grammophon, Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča explores the storms raging in the lives of some of the strong women of opera. A world-class performer approaching the peak of her form, she channels her experience and insight into a collection of arias drawn from the great Romantic repertoire, complete with captivating rarities and genuine showstoppers. Revive, released 04 November via Universal Music Canada, the country’s leading music company, charts the impassioned responses of characters blown off course or thrown into emotional turmoil by events beyond their control.
Bookended by arias from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana and Saint-Saëns’s Henri VIII, the album also takes in music from Leoncavallo’s La Bohème and Massenet’s Hérodiade, as well as celebrated set-pieces from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, Massenet’s Werther, Berlioz’s Les Troyens and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, among others.
This breadth of repertoire bears witness to Elīna Garanča’s vocal versatility and range. Her programme choices amount to a projection of her personal passions and interests at the time of creating the recording. “I feel confident that at this moment I can approach the women in the opera literature who are strong, whom I understand, with whom I can share my own life experience,” she comments. “This has been the guideline in everything I do: I go onstage when I am confident that I understand why I’m going to present a character. I hope that everyone listening to this recording can find something particular: it’s enough if they can relate to only one aria.”
Revive casts light on powerful women to reveal their vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Garanča’s strikingly individual interpretations arise from her empathy for each character and are underpinned by her admiration for their desire always to stand tall, even in moments of despair or apparent defeat.
“All these women are, I think, about exploring an inner world, about people finding themselves in a weak moment, for whatever reason – unhappy love, betrayal, losing power, saying goodbye to loved ones. In my everyday life, I’m everything: I can be jealous, I can be angry, I can be funny, I can be sad. Life is like a big colourful book. So the women on this album belong to a big colourful book.”
Revive was made in company with Roberto Abbado and the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana. Elīna Garanča welcomed a fresh opportunity to work with Abbado, and was delighted by the absolute focus shown by the orchestra throughout the sessions. The recording process allowed the singer to dig deep into dramatic roles destined to become part of her future work in the opera house, notably Mascagni’s Santuzza and Verdi’s Princess Eboli, two powerful roles she is preparing to perform for the first time onstage, at the Paris Opéra (in the autumn of 2016 and 2017, respectively).
“I’m lucky enough to have a mezzo-soprano voice that has the potential for development,” she comments. “I started with Baroque, Mozart and bel canto repertoire, with a little bit more dramatic stuff, too. I have never done Verdi on the stage or really done verismo opera, so there’s something new for me. Now, I feel it is really time to explore further, so the repertoire that is coming now is a new Elīna with new, exciting challenges.” Verdi and verismo, she adds, offer fresh territory for rewarding exploration. “I’m very happy that I can embrace it. It feels right at this moment to move on and reach other mountains!”