Karita Mattila’s Late Career Triumphs

By Francisco Salazar

Today, Karita Mattila is considered a legend and a consummate singer who has scored triumphs all over the world. Her repertoire has always been varied and unpredictable and that has made her an artist to always look forward to. Mattila is also one of those rare singers that has been able to reinvent herself as time has passed and she recently started interpreting older women and supporting characters that showed another part of her artistry.

In celebration of her birthday on Sept. 5, 1960, OperaWire takes a look the latest roles that Mattila has added to her repertoire and made her signatures.

Kostelnička Buryjovka – Jenufa

Years ago, Mattila was one of the sought after Jenufas of her time. She was able to bring a youthful and dramatic appeal to the role. However, after retiring the role, she opted to sing the Kostelnička Buryjovka, a more dramatic vocal test. And critics praised her for her portrayal stating, “Mattila brings vocal details to the character’s declamatory moments that are rarely heard. High notes are nailed rather than fudged. And the more notes that are heard, the more Janáček’s character comes into sharper focus.” She has since brought it to the Royal Opera House, Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Bayerische Staatsoper.

Ariadne Auf Naxos

Mattila was once the most important Salome of her time and if one watches the Met’s DVD, audiences can see the detail she adds to the role. Her “Four Last Songs” are also remarkable. So it was no surprise that when she added the title role of Ariadne to her repertoire, Mattila would once again be perfect Strauss’ lyrical primadonna. Critics raved and said, “She sings her monologues with passionate abandon, the top register mostly soaring above the orchestra, the low notes sometimes sweet, sometimes forceful.” Mattila has sung the role at the Royal Opera and Bayerische Staatsoper with more coming in the near future.

Sieglinde – Die Walküre

Yet another role that Mattila waited a long time to take on. While she took on Elsa and Eva in her early years, audiences always expected to see what other Wagner roles she would take on. And in 2015, the soprano made her role debut as Sieglinde at the Houston Grand Opera. The results were magnificent as critics praised her, “Mattila’s Sieglinde sang with the intensity and stylishness we have to associate with this great Finnish opera singer.” She will take on the role in the San Francisco Opera’s highly anticipated Ring Cycle.

Emilia Marty – The Makropoulos Case

She may not be singing this role a lot lately but when the soprano sang the role at the San Francisco Opera and Metropolitan Opera, one could argue it was the best work of her career. Mattila not only sang the role with virtuosic power but she completely turned into Emilia Marty. The New York Times said, “In the tour-de-force final scene, in which Marty, confronted by lawyers and officials, tells the whole truth, Ms. Mattila’s singing was a spellbinding mix of blazing fervor and ethereal beauty.”


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