“Her voice is a gorgeously plum-coloured, velvet-upholstered instrument of awe-inspiring smoothness, power and flexibility, matched to a powerhouse technique and highly intelligent musicality. Her lower register is quite magnificent.”
The Daily Telegraph, November 2016
Elīna Garanča – Biography
Born into a musical family in the Latvian capital Riga, Elīna Garanča entered the Latvian Academy of Music at the age of 20 and was soon on her way to becoming one of the world’s most outstanding mezzo-sopranos. She started as she meant to go on: while still a student she stepped in at just ten days’ notice to perform the role of Giovanna Seymour in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, uncovering a love affair with the bel canto repertoire which has since seen her through countless breathtaking performances.
When she graduated from the Academy she joined the Meiningen Staatstheater in Germany, appeared as a resident artist with the Frankfurt Opera, sang at the Savonlinna Opera Festival, was a finalist in the 2001 BBC’s Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and won the Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in Finland. She consolidated her early career singing at the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Helsinki Opera’s Rossini Festival, in Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Lucerne and Graz, and in 2003 made a guest appearance for Deutsche Grammophon when she joined Anna Netrebko in a scene and cavatina from Lucia di Lammermoor on Netrebko’s debut album, Opera Arias.
In 2005 her extraordinary gifts were recognised with an exclusive contract from the Yellow Label. Her first solo recording, Aria Cantilena, came in 2007, winning great acclaim and an Echo Klassik Singer of the Year award. She followed it with Bel Canto in 2009, winning another Echo Klassik award and a BBC Music Magazine Award. Habanera was released in 2010, Romantique in 2012 and Meditation in 2014, the latter two albums taking further Echo Klassik awards. She has also contributed to many complete-opera recordings, including Carmen, Anna Bolena, La Cenerentola and I Capuleti e i Montecchi.
November 2016 saw the release of her latest solo album, Revive, hailed by the Daily Telegraph as an “exciting recital by one of the world’s greatest vocalists”. Recorded in Valencia with Roberto Abbado and the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, Revive includes music from Verdi’s Don Carlo, Massenet’s Hérodiade and Saint-Saëns’s Henri VIII, as well as celebrated set-pieces from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, Berlioz’s Les Troyens, and Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. Elīna Garanča’s very personal choice of repertoire reflects the way in which her voice is developing, enabling her to embrace new and challenging territory.
On stage, meanwhile, her early roles included Annio and Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, Charlotte in Werther, Dorabella in Così fan tutte and Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. She made her Covent Garden debut in 2007 and her Metropolitan Opera debut the following year. In 2009 she returned to Covent Garden in the title role of Bizet’s Carmen, then starred in a new production of the work at the Met which was broadcast in more than a thousand cinemas worldwide. She was named Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year 2010 and won the MIDEM Classical Award as Singer of the Year. In 2013, Garanča became one of the youngest recipients of the Vienna State Opera’s “Kammersängerin” award, marking her 140 performances of 18 roles since her debut in the house in 2003.
Her 2015–16 operatic appearances included her portrayal of Charlotte at the Paris Opéra and a critically acclaimed role debut as Sara, Duchess of Nottingham, in the Met’s first ever production of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, for which she was applauded by The New York Times in the following terms: “… it is true luxury casting to have the great mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča bring her sumptuous voice and charisma to the role”. Highlights of the 2016–17 season have included her highly-anticipated first stage appearances as Léonor de Guzman in the Bavarian State Opera’s premiere production of Donizetti’s La Favorite (a role she first played in concert at the Salzburg Festival in 2014); her debut in a dramatic, verismo role – that of Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana at the Paris Opéra; and her final appearances as Octavian in Richard’s Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier, opposite Renée Fleming’s Marschallin, at the Metropolitan Opera.
Her much-praised portrayal of Léonor de Guzman is now set to be immortalised in Deutsche Grammophon’s DVD/Blu-ray release of La Favorite (July 2017). Conducted by Karel Mark Chichon, directed by Amélie Niermeyer and co-starring Matthew Polenzani (Fernand) and Mariusz Kwiecień (Alphonse XI), the acclaimed Bavarian State Opera production was recorded live on 23 October 2016 and will be released to coincide with the soprano’s return to Munich for two further performances of the opera (26 and 29 July).
In addition to her operatic work, Elīna Garanča also maintains a busy concert and recital schedule. Since January 2016, this has taken her around the world, with performances in cities such as Berlin, Munich, Nuremberg, Vienna, Zagreb, Mexico City and New York, highlights including her Carnegie Hall recital in March this year and her appearance at the Metropolitan Opera’s 50th-Anniversary gala at Lincoln Center two months later.
Her next recital performance will be at this summer’s Salzburg Festival, alongside Malcolm Martineau, with whom she will also appear in the autumn in Vienna and London. Other highlights of the forthcoming season include performances of the Verdi Requiem in Munich and Cologne and, on the opera stage, her debut as Princess Eboli in the Paris Opéra’s new production of Don Carlos; a return to Covent Garden, as Santuzza; appearances as Carmen with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich; and another role debut, Dalila in Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, at the Vienna Staatsoper.