For the sec­ond DIALOGUE of the year 2013, ACADEMIA SUPERIOR invit­ed world famous mez­zo-sopra­no Eli­na Garanča to talk to Markus Hengstschläger about her Life and Work. More than 400 peo­ple came to Linz Cas­tle to fol­low a humor­ous con­ver­sa­tion about music, par­ent­ing, work and fam­i­ly. Fur­ther­more, she revealed the secret behind the title of her new­ly released book called „Wirk­lich wichtig sind die Schuhe” (What’s real­ly impor­tant are the shoes). Garanča’s first book describes her life between worlds: east and west, chil­dren and career, tal­ent and dis­ci­pline, and how she made it from Latvia to the world’s grand opera stages.

“Acad­e­mia Supe­ri­or is going a rather unusu­al way at its sev­enth DIALOGUE. Today it’s not pri­mar­i­ly about sci­ence, but about singing and cul­ture. With our today’s guest, a con­nois­seur of many stages, is on a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent stage today: Not singing, but in dia­logue – about life, future and – shoes”, launched ACADEMIA SUPERIOR chair­man Michael Strugl the event.

For Garanča, eight months preg­nant with her sec­ond child, par­ent­ing is a cen­tral theme in her every­day life: “Chil­dren also have to expe­ri­ence dis­ap­point­ment and learn how to deal with it”, said Garanča and also point­ed at the impor­tance of musi­cal expe­ri­ences for the growth of chil­dren: “Play­ing a musi­cal instru­ment, whether it is a wood­en spoon or a vio­lin, stim­u­lates the brain of a child”. She learned from her own daugh­ter, that “chil­dren who are musi­cal­ly active, are more bright-eyed and hap­pi­er”, she said.

Work-Life-Balance

When asked if her pro­fes­sion is at the same time her hob­by or only work, she replied: “It’s a hob­by, which I don’t want to exer­cise every day.” The stage-evenings with which she is real­ly sat­is­fied are very rare. But when there is an evening were every­thing fits and every­body is in har­mo­ny and “you have the audi­ence in the bag with your voice, then it’s like the drug, which an artist is always look­ing for”. She and her hus­band, the con­duc­tor Mark Chi­chon, try to com­bine their two careers and their fam­i­ly as best as pos­si­ble. Also she tries not to be sep­a­rat­ed from her child for more than ten days and from her hus­band for more than two or three weeks in a row. Although they try to make as much as pos­si­ble togeth­er in their pro­fes­sion­al-life, their pri­vate-life has rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle con­tacts with their pro­fes­sion: “Most of our real friends are not part of the music busi­ness”, she tells.

The secret of the shoes

What about the shoes? Markus Hengstschläger wants to know. “The shoes are to be under­stood as a sym­bol for earth­i­ness”, explains Garanča, “if one is con­nect­ed to the soil, it gives you secu­ri­ty and one can go eas­i­er through life. This brings road grip, cause: you have to be con­nect­ed firm­ly to the ground first, before you’re able to fly”.

Because of their chil­dren, as well as the bet­ter bal­ance between work and fam­i­ly, she and her hus­band are think­ing of mov­ing their cen­ter of life to Aus­tria in the long term. “Vien­na is an ide­al city to devel­op intel­lec­tu­al­ly”, she says and empha­sizes that it’s impor­tant to learn the lan­guage of the coun­try in which one wish­es to live – alone for the rea­son not to sit alone at home in the evening.

By the way, she her­self has learned her first Ger­man-knowl­edge by watch­ing Ger­man talk-shows and using a dic­tio­nary.

“What really matters are the shoes”

Garanča’s first book deals with her life between the worlds: between East and West, between child and career, between tal­ent and self-dis­ci­pline. She describes her per­son­al life-jour­ney, com­ing from Latvia to the world’s stages and always want­i­ng to get to the top. But she also offers an insight into her role as a lov­ing moth­er and on her dai­ly live off stage – on her true self.

More than 400 vis­i­tors fol­lowed ACADEMIA SUPERIORS lasts night’s invi­ta­tion to the south wing of the Linz Cas­tle.