LOVE IN SOUTHERN CLIMES

Elīna Garanča’s new album, Sol y Vida, is a celebration of love and the long hot days of summer. Its richly varied repertoire ranges from well-known opera arias to Latin American favourites such as “Gracias a la vida” and “Brazil”. Another very personal selection of music from the Latvian mezzo, Sol y Vida will be released by Deutsche Grammophon on 10 May.

In the dog-day heat, feelings can seem more intense than usual, and certain songs take on a particularly seductive quality. Latvian mezzo Elīna Garanča’s new Deutsche Grammophon album, Sol y Vida (Sun and Life), captures summer’s uniquely sensual atmosphere to perfection. In her first recording of entirely non-core-classical repertoire, Garanča presents a variety of arias and songs to create a multi-faceted album set for release on 10 May.

An exclusive DG artist since 2005, Garanča won critical acclaim for her two previous concept albums, Meditation and Revive – the former a selection of sacred works, the latter a collection of arias sung by some of the most charismatic female characters in opera, and both, like Sol y Vida, very much her personal choice of music. For this latest album she has put together an exceptionally colourful programme, centred around the themes of love and living life to the full. From tango and Latin American folk songs to Italian love lyrics, it paints a vivid picture of her journey to the south, the common thread that runs throughout being the emotional and melodic impact made by every piece.

“This new album is my musical tribute to the people who live under southern skies, and to the beauty and diversity of their ways of life.”

Sol y Vida ’s tracklist includes Mexican composer Agustín Lara’s evergreen “Granada”, in which the praises of the Spanish city are sung to a percussive accompaniment, and, from Chile, the iconic “Gracias a la vida”, one of the most famous songs in Latin America, which Garanča performs with passion and velvety vocals. Also included here are “T’estimo”, an ardent declaration of love; “Core n’grato”, a Neapolitan song written in the United States by Salvatore Cardillo after he emigrated there; and Ernesto de Curtis’s nostalgic “Torna a Surriento”. Fellow Italian composer Stanislao Gastaldon’s “Musica proibita” is about the thrill of forbidden fruit, while Tosti’s “Non t’amo più” is about a love that’s died. Taken from Pablo Sorozábal’s zarzuela La tabernera del puerto, the aria “No puede ser” is a dramatic expression of the hope of love yet to come. Two particularly special moments are provided by Garanča’s excursion into tango with a spirited performance of Piazzolla’s “Yo soy María” and by her impassioned rendition of “Brazil”, which brings the album to an emotional end.

Richly orchestrated and accompanied with suitable brio by the Orquesta Filarmónica Gran Canaria under the baton of Karel Mark Chichon, the kaleidoscopic programme of Sol y Vida creates a colourful portrait in sound of a hot summer’s day.

The variety of repertoire is matched by Elīna Garanča’s expressive versatility. With her vibrant and dazzlingly clear tone, she breathes life into every nuance of life and love depicted here, revealing her outstanding technique and agility in the virtuosic passages, while using her resonant dark timbre and eloquent musicality to hugely moving effect in the lyrical moments. Garanča herself has talked about the ways in which her voice has changed over the course of her career, noting that it has now become “darker, heavier [and] rounder” as well as “more feminine and voluptuous”. And all the impressive riches of her new instrument are to be heard in Sol y Vida’s magical evocation of the days – and nights – of summer.