“Miina-Liisa Värelä is currently proving to be one of the most promising sopranos in the dramatic field and is increasingly appearing on the larger opera stages.”(Opernmagazin, March 2022)
Soprano Miina-Liisa Värelä has firmly established her presence on the operatic landscape through a number of recent highly acclaimed debuts including as Isolde/Tristan und Isolde (Glyndebourne Festival Opera), Senta/Der fliegende Holländer (Finnish National Opera) and as Strauss’s Elektra (Landestheater Linz). As Sieglinde in Odense Symfoniorkester’s staged Ring Cycle under Alexander Vedernikov, Värelä was hailed as an exciting emerging talent and she sang her first Ortrud in Wagner’s Lohengrin in a highly acclaimed new staging at Salzburg’s Felsenreitschule.
Värelä begins the 2022/23 season as Sieglinde in Die Walküre conducted by Hannu Lintu for Finnish National Opera, returning later in the season for performances of Turandot. She makes her North American debut in Ravel’s Shéhérazade with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Aziz Shokhakimov, and goes on to sing Isolde in concert performances of Tristan und Isolde with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. Further concert performances include Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder with Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España under Josep Pons and Shostakovich Symphony No.14 with Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne under Hannu Lintu.
The 2021/22 season included major company debuts for Vӓrelӓ: at Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona as the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos, conducted by Josep Pons, and at Oper Frankfurt as both Färberin in Die Frau ohne Schatten and Ortrud in Lohengrin,conducted by Sebastian Weigle. Stepping in for an ailing colleague, she made her Bayerische Staatsoper debut as Färberin in a performance of Die Frau ohne Schatten and returned to the Savonlinna Opera Festival to sing the title role in Keith Warner’s production of Tosca, conducted by Carlo Montanaro. She sang Brünnhilde in “Die Ring an einem Abend” on tour throughout Germany, with performances at the Berlin and Munich Philharmonikers and subsequently appeared as Sieglinde in a concert performance of Die Walküre (Act 1) with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, under Andris Poga.
Two highlights of Värelä’s 2019/20 season focused on the music of Richard Strauss: her return to Finnish National Opera in the title role of Katie Mitchell’s production of Ariadne auf Naxos, conducted by Hannu Lintu, and her debut at the Verbier Festival as Färberin in Die Frau ohne Schatten, conducted by Valery Gergiev. In 2020/21, Värelä further expanded her Wagnerian repertoire through her debut as Isolde in Tristan und Isolde to mark her Glyndebourne Festival debut, conducted by Robin Ticciati, with a final performance at Royal Albert Hall as part of the 2021 BBC Proms.
On the concert platform, Vӓrelӓ has recently performed Shostakovich’s From Jewish Folk Poetry for Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu, and Shostakovich Symphony No.14 with hr-Sinfonieorchester Frankfurt under Klaus Mäkelä, as well as with Solistes Européens Luxembourg. Further performances include Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder in Aarhus, Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Ingo Metzmacher, Mahler’s Symphony No.4 with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra under Hannu Lintu, Shostakovich’s Symphony No.14 with Oulu Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder with Odense Symphony Orchestra under Hans Graf.
A native of Finland, Värelä is a graduate of Helsinki’s renowned Sibelius Academy and has taken prizes in numerous competitions including at Lappeenranta and Belvedere.
“Dramatically and vocally, Miina-Liisa Värelä as Ortrud is so outstanding that you almost feel more drawn to evil than to the supposedly good.”
“Miina-Liisa Värelä celebrated her house debut at Oper Frankfurt in the role of the Dyer. She is currently proving to be one of the most promising sopranos in the dramatic field and is increasingly appearing on the larger opera stages”
“Her beautiful voice, which is particularly pronounced in the high notes, did not appear particularly dramatic at first, but increased in the course of the opera to a volume and depth of penetration that was second to none.”
“In Värelä, a Dyer was finally found who created a role portrait entirely in the spirit of the composer. She embodied a vocally young, misunderstood woman full of dreams and passions and not the drooling, unsympathetic Dyer’s wife, as one hears so often elsewhere.”
“She already presents an assured and rounded version of the character [Isolde], both vocally and in her movement. Apart from raw power and impressive stamina, she brings many vocal nuances to a role that, all too often, singers mainly survive rather than shape.”
“Her assured lower register can compete with many mezzos for its intensity and core; she also deployed a clean, straight tone at moments of icy focus and resolve, especially in Act one. This kind of vocal control makes the backstory delivered in Act one compelling. Her entry in Act three, tending to the fallen body of Tristan, was heart-stoppingly tender.”
“The soprano Miina-Liisa Värelä led the listener with flexible vocal colouring and a large dynamic range”
“The Finnish soprano Miina-Liisa Värelä was top-class and at the same time a competent interpreter of the vocal part…[she was] able to utter words of thunder with all Russian texts, but also to articulate the bitterly evil and the hopeless quietly and clearly”
“A flexible, highly dramatic soprano, Värelä took this up with a wealth of nuances and was responsible for the finely chiselled drama”
“Värelä has developed into an exquisite lyric-dramatic soprano whose sustained sound flows freely, with fresh, beautiful silvery lines.”
“Mina-Liisa Värelä (replacing the expected Nina Stemme) is an excellent Tintora, more lyrical than dramatic, more sarcastic than afflicted, of great vocal security, capable of nuances and of a remarkable variety of colors on the whole range.”
“Nina Stemme was replaced by the Finn Miina Liisa Värelä as a dyer. She recently celebrated a great success as Elektra at the Landestheater in Linz. Her clear height without sharpness impresses, just as the force of her voice, which she understands colorfully to tame.”
“Miina-Liisa Värelä plays an extraordinary dyer. The voice is frank, the delivery powerful, the richness of timbre obvious.”
“Then there was the cast, which made it possible to discover voices that will surely be seen on the great operatic stages – one especially, that of the soprano Miina-Liisa Värelä.”
“Miina-Liisa Värelä was the excellent surprise of the evening, delivering an undecided Dyer, hesitating between meanness and arrogance, but ultimately moving and human, and also very expressive by the fiery glances she never stopped throwing at her poor husband.”
“We could not have found a better pair than John Lundgren’s Barak and Miina-Liisa Värelä’s Dyer.”
“His wife was played by dramatic soprano Miina-Liisa Varela. Like Magee she rose to Strauss’ vocal challenges with apparent ease, and produced an accomplished performance. She displayed wonderful upper register, which was firmly grounded, and was able to soar effortlessly above the orchestra, without any loss of quality. However, she not only possessed power, but also the necessary delicacy, and a pleasing legato.”
“An Elektra of steely power, noble strength … a voice in peak health, technically sound … with floating pianissimos in the dialogue with Klytämnestra”
“Miina-Liisa Värelä, in the role of Sieglinde, harvested the evening’s greatest applause. She sang with power, clear and nuanced, and with a lovely edge to the voice.”
“Miina-Liisa Värelä dominated everything as Färberin with her full and dramatic soprano.”
“The young Finnish soprano Miina-Liisa Värelä sang a psychologically nuanced and musically perceptive Dyer’s Wife. With her full, rounded voice, she brought youthful impetuousness to the powerhouse role.”