A Christmas Miracle: Opera Legend Anne Sofie von Otter to Perform in Riga

  • 2023-11-08

Anne Sofie von Otter is a phenomenon, an enigma. One of Sweden's greatest singers in history, she has received countless awards, including two Grammy Awards. With a colossal discography spanning four decades, she could have rested on her laurels and reminisced about her triumphs on the world's most renowned stages. However, her incredible mezzo-soprano voice remains as powerful and fresh as ever, and composers continue to write roles for her. Recently, at the end of October, Anne Sofie took the stage at the Royal Swedish Opera in the world premiere of "Melancholia" by Mikael Karlsson, based on a Lars von Trier film. On December 12th, she will perform in the Great Guild in Riga, presenting works by Bach, Purcell, Couperin, and Christmas songs.

Anne Sofie von Otter possesses the appearance of a Scandinavian film star or a goddess from the heavenly realm of Asgard. She is an aristocrat, the daughter of a diplomat, and the great-granddaughter of a prime minister. Anne Sofie von Otter has forged a remarkable career in the world of academic music, a realm where neither looks nor lineage guarantee success.

Her journey began conventionally. After attending the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Anne Sofie joined the Basel Opera Company, eventually becoming its prima donna. Her talent was quickly noticed by directors of other theaters, and soon she was inundated with offers from around the world. London, New York, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Chicago, Geneva, Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg...

At the age of thirty, von Otter signed an exclusive contract with the prestigious recording label Deutsche Grammophon. She performed in plays worldwide, gave solo concerts, participated in vocal-symphonic compositions, and worked with legendary conductors such as Carlos Kleiber, Claudio Abbado, Giuseppe Sinopoli, and Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Sir Simon Rattle and Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Critics hailed her voice as sweet as honey and her musicality as astounding. Audiences marveled as she lit a cigar on stage during the "Habanera" in "Carmen" – a genuine act, no trickery involved.

"Carmen" didn't enter her repertoire immediately. Like any intelligent singer concerned about her longevity, Anne Sofie started with operas by Monteverdi and Gluck, Handel, Lully, and, of course, Mozart. She then delved into Romantic music, followed by Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Berg, Poulenc, Enescu. She sang a lot of Mahler and Richard Strauss, explored and found her way into Wagner.

When her universality and remarkable sense of style were universally recognized and embraced, she granted herself complete freedom. Few can sound equally wonderful "from Bach to Offenbach," but von Otter transcended those boundaries. She decided to pay tribute to her beloved group, ABBA, resulting in the album "I Let the Music Speak." She wanted to collaborate with pop star Elvis Costello, and their joint album "For the Stars" garnered numerous awards. She also had a program with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. And then there was "Terezin," music composed by prisoners in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where there was an orchestra, a theater, and children's opera performances until they were all killed.

Anne Sofie von Otter has become a legendary singer. Most of her famous colleagues, when they reach a certain age, leave the stage and focus on chamber music. But composers have defied conventional wisdom by continuing to write operas with her in mind. In recent years, Anne Sofie participated in three world premieres: "The Exterminating Angel" by Thomas Adès at the Royal Opera House in London, "The Autumn Sonata" by Sebastian Fagerlund at the Finnish National Opera, and "Melancholia" by Mikael Karlsson at the Royal Swedish Opera. In the current season, she performs as the Countess in Tchaikovsky's "The Queen of Spades," Marcellina in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," Adelaide in Strauss's "Arabella," Countess Geschwitz in Berg's "Lulu," and Ottavia in Monteverdi's "The Coronation of Poppea." She also gives numerous concerts, including a pre-Christmas concert in Riga on December 12th, accompanied by pianist Leif Kaner-Lidström and her son, guitarist Fabian Fredriksson.

It promises to be an evening of magnificent classical music and the traditional Christmas songs that are sung throughout the Christian world. Anne Sofie von Otter will perform them in her unique and enchanting way.

The tour is organized by the international production company Winstag Production, OU, owned by Eugene Wntour-Irverstag. 

Tickets are available at city box offices and the bilesuparadize.lv

 The concert is supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Latvia.

 The season's partner is the Amber Beverage Group.