The whole world knows of the brilliant opera singer of Latvia – tenor Aleksandrs Antoņenko, who made his debut on the stage of the Latvian National Opera 13 years ago with the role of Iberto in Handel’s “Alcina”, but now sings in the most famous opera houses of the world – the Covent Garden Opera of London, the Royal Oslo Opera, Geneva, Dresden, Düsseldorf, and the New York Metropolitan Opera.
The Carmen performed by mezzo soprano Elīna Garanča in the New York Metropolitan Opera has been called by experts of classical music as "the most convincing Carmen in a long time"! This brilliant singer has in her 34 years performed the most beautiful roles on the biggest stages of Europe, has had concerts with the most famous orchestras and has recorded several music albums.
World-famous singer Inese Galante’s album “Debut” received Golden and Platinum status in Holland. BBC has called Inese Galante’s “Arietta” the best album in the nomination of the classical music (2000). Critics call “Tatiana’s Letter Scene”, as performed by Galante, the best in the last 20 years.
The world has become acquainted with great musicians – violin player and conductor Gidons Krēmers, founder and art director of the world-known chamber orchestra “Kremerata Baltica” – every year the orchestra performs over 60 concerts all over the world – and the great conductor Mariss Jansons, composer Pēteris Vasks, and the young and very talented pianist, winner of the World Piano Olympiad Vestards Šimkus, laureate of many international prestige competitions violinist Baiba Skride, producer highly-acclaimed in Europe Alvis Hermanis, whose provocative revelations of the inner world man have surprised spectators in Moscow, Austria, Germany, and France. The songs of composer Maestro, Raimonds Pauls are sung not only in Latvia and the former Soviet Union, but also in Scandinavia, Germany, even Japan and China! The former Soviet Union also recognises great Latvian actors– the queen of the Latvian theatre, legendary actress Vija Artmane(1929 - 2008), who played the most important and beautiful roles of the 20th century in the Daile Theatre, and many more.
It is worth mentioning the successes of the Latvian athletes. Track and field athlete Jeļena Prokopčuka, who lives in the resort city of Jūrmala, is one of the rare women who has won the prestigious New York marathon twice in a row (2005 and 2006). Ernests Gulbis entered the world elite of tennis with his win over Roger Federer in 2010. Latvians are crazy about hockey. Thus many were glad to hear the news that goalkeeper Arturs Irbe had been added to the NHL Hall of Fame in 2010. In turn, Sandis Ozoliņš won the Stanley Cup and now plays hockey in Riga, where he also founded the golf club Ozo Golf Club. Weightlifter Viktors Ščerbatihs is the European and World champion, has Olympic medals and is also a member of the Saeima. Olympic medals for Latvia have been ensured by javelin throwers Jānis Lūsis, Inese Jaunzeme, Dainis Kūla, Vadims Vasiļevskis and Ainars Kovals and basketball players Igors Miglinieks and Gundars Vētra. In 2008 in the Beijing Olympic Games, BMX rider Māris Štrombergs won the gold medal (there is a BMX track near Valmiera where the first BMX Olympic champion practised), while silver medals were won in 2010 in the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games by skeleton racer Mārtiņš Dukurs and by doubles luge athletes, brothers Juris and Andris Šics.
Famous People from Latvia
There are also such people who have their roots in Latvia whose names have been entered with golden lettersin the history of not only of Latvia, but the entire world. Their lives are most directly connected with Latvia. Some of them are:
- producer and pioneer of modern cinema Sergei Eisenstein (1898 - 1948). He was from Riga and is the author of the movie that shocked the world “The Battleship Potyomkin” (1925);
- one of the most notable philosophers of the 20th century, excellent theoretician of policy, impressive defender of the philosophical liberalism and historian of ideas Jesaja Berlins(1909—1997) was born in Riga on Alberta Street – a street full of the most brilliant samples of Art Noveau. His essay “Two Concepts of Liberty” significantly influenced the development of the direction of liberal philosophy;
- American ballet star Mihail Baryshnikov (1948) was born in Riga and took his first steps in art in Riga. In 1974 during a tour in Canada, Baryshnikov, the soloist of the Leningrad Kirov Opera and ballet theatre, decided to stay in Canada.
- the roots of the world-famous painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) are to be found in Daugavpils, the second largest city of Latvia. A Mark Rothko Art and information centre is being established that will become an artefact not only in the context of the Baltics, but also for Europe.
- the great German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) spent almost two years in Riga (from 1837 – 1839). Legend has it that after leaving Riga in a bad mood, Wagner had the inspiration for the opera “The Flying Dutchman” while swaying in the waves of the Baltic Sea.
- another great, intellectual mind is connected with Riga – the German Enlightenment philosopher, writer and folklorist Johan Gottfried Herder.