Artist Profile: Soprano Karita Mattila, Finland’s Pride & Joy

By David Salazar

When you look at Finland’s musical landscape, you will undeniably see a number of talented opera singers. But none rises above the stature of Karita Mattila.

Born on Sept. 5, 1960, the Finnish soprano graduated from the Sibelius Academy in 1983, the same year that she won the first Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and cemented her status as a major talent. It wasn’t long before she continued to prove it in many ways. Two years later, at age 25, she was making her Royal Opera House debut in London. Then, she was in the first-ever televised production of “Fierrabras” from the Vienna State Opera in 1988. Her Met debut came in 1990, followed by a debut in Spain in 1994, and one in Paris in 1996.

By the end of the century, she was already a Grammy winner, a feat she would repeat again in 2004. She was named Musician of the Year in 2005 and in 2007, she was named one of the top 20 sopranos of the recorded era by BBC Music Magazine. In 2010, she created the title role of the monodrama “Émilie.”

A fierce actress, she is renowned not only for her fascinating vocal abilities but also her acting skills and characterizations onstage. She has performed prominently at the Met, Vienna State Opera, Opéra de Paris, Royal Opera House, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and San Francisco Opera, among others.

She has made a plethora of recordings throughout her career, including popular music.

Signature Roles

Mattila has had an outstanding career singing in a number of Wagner roles. However, she is best known for her work in “Salome,” with which she triumphed twice at the Met Opera. She earned this rave from a review of her interpretation: “ “When the history of the Metropolitan Opera around the time of the millennium is written, Karita Mattila will deserve her own chapter.”

Her work in the operas of Janacek is also quite notable, the soprano dominating a wide range of his works and championing them throughout her career. That Janacek has appeared at the Met Opera is majorly because of Mattila.

Read More on Mattila 

A Look at Her Late Career Triumphs

Watch and Listen

Here she is in the final scene of “Salome.”

Here is a full recording of “The Makropulos Case.”


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