Opera diva Elīna Garanča praises Mérida for its embrace of high culture

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Nine years later, opera fans still talk about Elīna Garanča’s role as Carmen at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London. Photo: Getty

The world-famous Latvian mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča, visiting Mérida for the first time, is having a love affair with Mexico.

“Mexico is a world power in culture,” said Garanča, one of opera’s brightest stars. She performs today with the Yucatan Symphony Orchestra (OSY) at the José Peón Contreras Theater. The opera recital is the first of a three city Mexican tour.

Tickets sold out almost immediately after they were announced in October.

“It’s the second time I’ve come to Mexico and it moves me, it gives me pleasure to discover that in several of its cities there is a symphony orchestra, a beautiful theater and a lot of interest in classical music,” the grand diva said.

“Mexico has its traditional music and several top-level singers who excel in the world, because this country is rich in talent and not just classical music,” she said in Spanish, and revealed that she is a fan of singer Lila Downs. “I hope to find her one day, because her voice touches me the most sensitive fibers.”

Garanča regularly headlines landmark productions at the world’s leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Bavarian State Opera, and Vienna State Opera, where she recently became the youngest female singer to be honored with a Kammersängerin Award.

Her performance in 2009 in Carmen, at both Covent Garden and the Met, are considered iconic. It was broadcast live more than 1,000 movie theaters worldwide. She returned to the Met as Mozart’s Sesto. Both her Sesto and Cenerentola were also transmitted to cinemas around the globe in the company’s Live in HD series, and all three were subsequently shown on PBS’s “Great Performances at the Met.”

The mezzo’s iconic performances as Carmen and La Cenerentola have since been issued on DG DVD, and she was chosen to join Julie Andrews, Audra McDonald, Itzhak Perlman, and other stars at a televised concert to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the “Great Performances” series.

She thanked the people of  Mexico for their love, shown on social networks. “They always ask me when I’m going to sing to their city,” Garanča said.

“Today, from this city of Mérida, I send you all my love and I assure you that I love you very much. It is always a privilege to sing live for you,” said the artist.

Classical music will never die; “only changes will be made in the presentation and in the visual.”

“I compare it with Michelangelo’s paintings, which are classics and will not be lost, because it is a profound genre that makes you feel many emotions,” she said.

After Mérida, Garanča will continue her tour of Monterrey, where on Jan. 24 she will offer a recital accompanied by pianist Rogelio Riojas-Nolasco, and on Jan. 27, in Guadalajara.

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