PHOTO/STYLE: GREGORY REGINI / MUA : CHRISTINA REGINI (MAKE UP ATELIER SCHOOL)/PHOTO ASSISTANT : GURAM KAPANADZE / APPAREL: DATUNA SULIKASHVILI
LONG AND WINDING ROAD TO TEATRO ALLA SCALA
MIRACLES HAPPEN. IN 2009 AN UNKNOWN GEORGIAN SINGER MAKES HER OPERATIC DEBUT AT THE GRAND OPENING NIGHT OF THE TEATRO ALLA SCALA DI MILANO AND PERFORMS THE TITLE ROLE IN BIZET’S “CARMEN” STAGED BY EMMA DATE AND CONDUCTED BY DANIEL BARENBOIM. THE SINGER, WITH HER WONDERFUL VOICE AND STRONG PRESENCE ON STAGE, IS MET WITH STANDING OVATION. A COUPLE OF YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THIS EVENT AND YOUNG MEZZO- SOPRANO ANITA RACHVELISHVILI IS NOW REGARDED AS ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER CARMENS OF NOWADAYS. SHE HAS VARIOUS REMARKABLE CONCERTS TO HER CREDIT, INCLUDING METROPOLITAN OPERA DEBUT AND PERFORMANCES IN OTHER HIGH-RANKING OPERA HOUSES. YET THIS FAME DID NOT REALLY FALL FROM THE SKY AND THERE WAS A LONG AND WINDING ROAD TO REACH IT.
- YOUR WAY FROM TBILISI TO MILAN: HOW DO YOU REMEMBER THIS PERIOD?
It’s not an easy period to remember… While studying in the Tbilisi Conservatory, I won the Paata Burchuladze Prize in 2007, I was also receiving a stipend from the ex-president of Georgia and at the same time I got the chance to continue studying in Milan. It was a life chance, but with a financial problem – I had no money to get there. I tried my best, asked our officials, prominent people, businessmen to support, but – silence. It seemed that there was no way out, but my family is my strength: we are always together and cheer each other up; my parents and sister believed in me and it was our joint decision to take out a bank loan. We put our flat as a guarantee for the mortgage and we ran the risk of losing the only property we had… That’s how I ended up in Milan and afterwards, while studying, I sent half my earnings home to pay off the loan. The last share of the debt was covered with a fee which I received for my debut Carmen at the opening night of the Teatro alla Scala.
- YOU WERE ABSOLUTELY UNKNOWN AT THAT TIME AND SUDDENLY YOU WERE PERFORMING AT THE OPENING NIGHT OF THE TEATRO ALLA SCALA … HOW WERE YOU SELECTED FOR THE TITLE ROLE IN “CARMEN”?
It happened thanks to Daniel Barenboim, the general music director of La Scala. He is an absolutely fantastic person and a real revolutionary in the musical world- he even established an orchestra from Palestinian and Jewish young musicians. Barenboim was choosing musicians for a new production of Carmen and there were some secondary roles for women in the play and I thought, I might be selected to perform these little pieces but when Barenboim heard me, he invited me to star in this new production, also conducted by him. The opening night of Teatro alla Scala is the most important event in Millan … Thus, it was unbelievable and a fabulous challenge for me, something which changed a lot in my life.
- CARMEN IS AN ICONIC CHARACTER. WHAT KIND OF ATTITUDE DO YOU HAVE TO THIS PERSONAGE AND HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A ROLE IN GENERAL?
I sing the role which suits me and I think that Carmen is close to my personality. Having performed this role numerous times, I have got a lot of experience and I know Carmen very well; I feel her. Sometimes, Carmen’s character is shown from a different perspective and it is up to a director to present her from different angles and these changes may change my interpretation of the role as well. I like to work with directors who are more open, creative and not only ‘dictate’ – turn here, bend there, etc. It was a very good challenge and experience for me to work with Richard Eyre; he made some changes in the production and added a couple of fight scenes. As a result, Carmen became more expressive than before. Emma Dante is also a very interesting person- she staged “Carmen” in 2009 for the Teatro alla Scala opening night. As for preparing myself for a role, it is usually quite a lengthy activity and I have time to study it properly – from different perspectives and views. I am never nervous before going on stage and I always try to give all of my emotions and feelings to the audience. But after a performance, I feel emptiness and a kind of depression. When I first noticed my condition, I was a bit scared and didn’t know what was happening, then I found out that it is just a biological process – how the human body reacts while giving away too much adrenaline. Thus, after a performance, I need a day or two to restore myself and strike a balance.
- ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC?
I am one of the most optimistic people in the world. I always try to look at everything very positively. There are definitely “down” periods from time to time, but still… When you are oriented towards good, it happens that bright and colorful things begin to materialize in your life.
- WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY IN YOUR LIFE?
I am really very busy. A day usually begins with a rehearsal, then I try to go to a gym; physical trainings, live a healthy way of life. Natural and organic food is very important for me and my profession. You need to keep in shape. If I have some free time I am really fond of watching a film in the cinema alone or just reading a book.
- DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY.
I will do it in one word. I am a very EMOTIONAL person and throughout my life, I have been trying to learn how to control my emotions.
- PEOPLE WHO HAVE INFLUENCED YOU?
Definitely, there are people who have had a very positive influence on me, but I will highlight some of them: Manana Egadze, my lecturer at the Tbilisi Conservatory, who unfortunately has already passed away, also Emma Dante, Daniel Barenboim…
- HAPPINESS IS…
Being together with my favorite people.
- WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN GEORGIA?
I really miss the chaotic, bizarre and spontaneous rhythm of life which is so characteristic for Georgia. I simply miss being Georgian when I am far from here.
- A FEW WORDS ABOUT YOUR PLANS.
My calendar is scheduled up to 2022 already, but regarding my closest plans, I will perform Carmen in the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, London and also my first CD recording will see daylight by the end of the year.