Today, we are going to make a tribute to one of the best and most famous operatic mezzo-sopranos of modern Opera, Elīna Garanča.
Elina Garanča was born in the Latvian city of Riga into a musical family, her father a choral director, her mother Anita is a lieder singer, a professor at the Latvian Academy of Music, an associated professor at the Latvian Academy of Culture, a vocal music teacher at the Latvian National Opera, and also a private voice tutor.
Her brother Jānis (aka Jaanis) Garančs, three years older than Elīna, started out in music studies, but is now an interactive computer generated visual media artist and consultant.
She entered the Latvian Academy of Music in 1996 to study singing with Sergej Martinov. She continued her studies in Vienna with Irina Gavrilović and in the United States with Virginia Zeani. Garanča began her professional career at the Südthüringisches Staatstheater in Meiningen and later worked at the Frankfurt Opera. In 1999, she won the Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in Helsinki, Finland.
Garanča’s international breakthrough came in 2003 at the Salzburger Festspiele when she sang Annio in a production of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
Major engagements followed quickly, such as Charlotte in Werther, Dorabella in Così fan tutte at the Vienna State Opera (2004) and Dorabella in a Paris production directed by Patrice Chéreau (2005).
In 2006, she returned to La clemenza di Tito, this time singing the part of Sesto.
On January 12, 2008, Garanča made her company and house debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in the role of Rosina in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Of her debut, Bernard Holland wrote in The New York Times: “Ms. Garanca is the real thing (…) Modern singing techniques adapt with difficulty to Rossini’s early-19th-century emphasis on speed, lightness and athletic articulation, and Ms. Garanca was the only one onstage sounding completely comfortable. The lyric passages sang out; the episodes of racecourse delivery were fully in hand”.
Garanča sang the leading role of Georges Bizet’s Carmen in the 2010 production of the Metropolitan Opera.
In the opening concert of the 2011 Rheingau Musik Festival in the Eberbach Abbey she performed Alban Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder with the hr-Sinfonieorchester, conducted by Paavo Järvi.
She is married to the conductor Karel Mark Chichon. Their first child, Catherine Louise, was born on 22 September 2011, and she is now expecting a second child.
One of my favorite concerts with Elīna Garanča is “The Opera Gala: Live from Baden-Baden”.
In that Gala concert, sang with Anna Netrebko, Ramón Vargas, and Ludovic Tézier . It was a beautiful Gala concert.
I also admire her “Carmen” at the MET with Roberto Alagna as Don José.
I also think that she was wonderful in Donizetti’s “Anna Bolena” (with Anna Netrebko as Anna Bolena) as Giovanna Seymour.
And of course, one of my all time favorite performances of Elīna Garanča is in Rossini’s “La cenerentola”!
Elīna Garanča, along with Cecilia Bartoli, is one of the greatest mezzo-sopranos of the history of Opera!