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Text and Photo: Roksolana Chernoba

Singer Ellina Garancha and her husband conductor Karl Mark Chichon might have decided to have become the ‘golden couple’ of the stage and performed together as many musicians who are married do to conquer the worlds’ stages. But both value their private territory, both in their private lives and on stage too much for either of them to hold the other back by clinging on to one another. And so the bond between this Latvian lady and an Englishman is a union of two independently progressing talents which only sometimes meet on stage.

The artists never agree to joint interviews, but accepted DEI’s offer as experiment which we doubt they will repeat!

Ellina Garancha

DE I: You have amazing combination of voice, character, looks and wisdom. And you also practice yoga. Were you born like this or did you ‘create yourself’?

(Laughing). Well, I think, that I am what I am thanks to my parents to a considerable extent. My parents are musicians - my father is a conductor, my Mom is a singer. She lectures now in the Latvian Conservatoire. I grew up at our “dacha”. I milked cow and fed pigs. And in winter I always found myself in the company of people who were 15-20 years older than I was. They talked about theatre, music and politics in our house. My Mom always herded me off to bed but I managed to listen in on all the clever talk somehow. Since then I always think a lot, and read books. I also have well-developed intuition. If my head doesn’t know what to do then my stomach knows, it controls many things in my life.

DE I: This is probably connected with the fact that you are close to nature?

Maybe… I used to call myself a romantic-realist. I always try to think “what would happen if…..”, but I always have plan how to achieve the goal. I don’t rush into any risks without thinking. Yes, this comes from my childhood probably. …At the age of 3 everything was clear as day to me. (Laughing).

DE I: Can you decide what a person is like if you just hear how he sings?

I am sure that everybody can sing, but some of us just do not have enough force to overcome the phobia that was formed by the people around us. For example, a child is assured that he can’t sing and so he is afraid to try and develop further.

DE I: You look very confident…

Nobody believes me but in fact I am very shy. When I say this to my friends they just laugh. In truth I’m used putting on a ‘mask’ when I give interviews. I can’t let myself tell an unknown person that I feel bad and I don’t know how to perform tomorrow. It very much depends on the interlocutor. If I see a shy person then I will be shy, if a confident person comes I will talk more confidently. I always make a mental note of gestures, the mimicry of different people as I can use them on the stage later.

DE I: How did you react when meeting your husband-to-be? Did something inside you prompt you to pay closer attention to him?

He was 10 minutes late for rehearsals. And I thought “ What kind of man can he be if he is late for the first rehearsal!” Then we shook hands and I thought within this one and a half second that I could marry such a man. But I forgot about it immediately. I remembered only when he decided to move to Vienna to join me.

Karl Mark Chichon

DE I: There exists an opinion that Russians are lazy. Were they always prepared for their work with you? If we compare with Vienna orchestra, for example?

I would rather not agree with such a cliche. I am sure that Russians interest in their work depends on their mood to a great extent. You know, everything might be perfect in September, but worse in October. It depends on season, circumstances. But I am very persistent. I can say nothing bad about the orchestra.

DE I: Did you manage to marry such amazing woman thanks to your persistence?

I believe that relationships should develop naturally or not at all. I was never ‘persistent’ in anything in my private life. (To his wife): Was I persistent? Did I knock at your door, or pave around under your window? (Laughing). Ellina: No, that doesn’t work with me. Karl: Neither of us is like that. Ellina: At the beginning of our conversation we already mentioned this - everything that happens to us is predictable and logically determined. If you are fated to meet someone you will meet him.

DE I: Your marriage is international. What language will your children speak?

Ellina: I think, Latvian, English and Spanish. Karl: Yes, but in a different order. (Laughing). Latvian, Spanish, English. Though I am an Englishman, I have many friends in Spain.

DE I: Do you love your family?

Yes, of course! I’m just very complicated person inside. I always warn everybody, including my orchestra, that if they knew me closer they would not believe that I am completely different to what they see! You should be tough in life, in business, in your profession, everywhere where there are issues of management.

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