Berlin / New York, December 13, 2017. Sony Classical is proud to announce the signing of the extraordinary Georgian mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili, a singer acclaimed for her sensually powerful performances. Rachvelishvili’s eagerly anticipated debut album, a recital with personally chosen highlights from her repertoire, will be released in 2018.
Her career was launched in a spectacular overnight coup de théâtre in 2009 when Daniel Barenboim chose her to open the La Scala season in a much-publicized new production of Carmen with Jonas Kaufmann as Don José. Initially he had auditioned her for the secondary role of Mercedes, but so obvious was her talent and so powerful and visceral her presence, that he offered her the lead as Carmen. At just 25, she was the youngest ever singer to debut in this role in an opening night of La Scala. “It was a huge risk for me”, she says. “If any small detail had gone wrong, my career would have ended on the very day it began”.
It was a sensation, and her performance was hailed the world over. “A big, even voice, velvety and agile… she was seductive with a natural easy lyricism. When Anita Rachvelishvili tossed her long dark locks, smitten Spanish soldiers fell onstage like dominoes”, wrote The New York Times. Since then she has sung the role at major opera houses all over the world, to similarly rapturous reviews.
Tbilisi-born Rachvelishvili grew up during a period of devastating civil war and poverty in Georgia. Her parents were unable to find work, so her musician father became a mason and her mother, a ballet dancer, became a hairdresser. Rachvelishvili witnessed bombs and the death of childhood friends at first hand.
In these destructive circumstances, music became a precious part of her life, although initially her preference was jazz and soul. (Her love for it abides, and she still sings jazz and fusion with her own band.) When she was sixteen, her father suggested that she might try to sing opera as well and found a local voice teacher to prepare her for the entrance exams for the Tbilisi Conservatoire. Her success was rapid and while still a student she debuted in major roles at the Tbilisi opera house. In 2007, she was invited to join the Accademia (Young Artists’ Programme) at La Scala. It was here that Daniel Barenboim first heard her and where her international career was launched.
Her natural ease on stage and her powerful, seductive voice have led to other major role debuts as Amneris in Aida, Azucena in Il trovatore, Dalila in Samson et Dalila, the Principessa di Bouillon in Adriana Lecouvreur, Lyubasha in The Tsar’s Bride and others. Venues where she has sung include The Metropolitan Opera, the Deutsche Oper, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Arena di Verona and London’s Royal Opera House.
For her debut album, Rachvelishvili has, naturally, chosen two well-loved arias from her signature role of Carmen: L’amour est un oiseau rebelle and Près des ramparts de Seville. The rest of the selection showcases roles and arias that are especially close to Rachvelishvili’s heart, allowing her to explore the dramatic side of the mezzo-soprano repertoire: great arias from Il trovatore, Don Carlo, Samson et Dalila, The Tsar’s Bride, and Werther. She is accompanied by conductor Giacomo Sagripanti and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI.
Also included is a hauntingly beautiful aria from Dimitri Arakishvili’s 1919 work The Legend of Shota Rustaveli, sometimes called as Georgia’s ‘national opera’. ‘The Cavatina of King Tamar’ celebrates the legendary status of a twelfth-century Georgian queen who was so powerful that she was accorded the title ‘King’.
Anita Rachvelishvili’s debut album will be available worldwide from March 2, 2018.