November 26, 2002 01:00 PM

Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes.

It worked for Mariah Carey, whose nervous breakdown and commercially disappointing “Glitter” last year seemed to spell the end to one of music’s most successful divas. Now Carey is back with a new album (which hits stores next Tuesday) and a new outlook, following a five-month working vacation, the Associated Press reports.

Carey, whose new album “Charmbracelet” has been released in Japan, was in Tokyo promoting the new record. Judging by fan response there, Carey is back with a vengeance.

Part of it may be due to her rejuvenated spirit, which she said she recouped on the Italian island of Capri following last year’s troubles. Carey spent five months recovering, during which time she recorded the 15 new tracks for her album.

“I put all the things I had gone through into my music,” she told reporters in Tokyo. “I’m in a really good, happy place.”

Carey, who is shooting a video for her song “The One” in Japan, told reporters that she had simply overextended herself last year after years of hard work. “I had just become very, very exhausted and ended up just not really in a good place physically and emotionally,” she said.

“Glitter” was Carey’s 11th album, and the soundtrack to the film of the same name in which the singer starred. Both were critical and financial disappointments, resulting in a buyout of Carey’s recording contract by Virgin Records parent EMI. In 2001, she also divorced husband Tommy Mottola, president of Sony Music, who had previously taken charge of Carey’s career.

With her break and her new album (on Island/Def Jam Records), Carey is ready to go. “(I’ve learned) how to be healthy and take care of myself,” she says.

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