Elīna Garanča is one of the most famous singers of the modern opera world. Born on Sept. 16, 1976, the Latvian mezzo has gone from bel canto specialist to a dominant singing actress in the dramatic repertoire.
Known for her vocal prowess and technical perfection (have you ever heard her struggle with any vocal line?), she is also an imaginative actress, every one of her interpretations layered and complex, whether they be the cool and powerful Carmen, or the angst-ridden Sara in “Roberto Devereux.” She is an icon of the modern opera world and one of its most successful and complete artists.
Now imagine a time when she wasn’t quite so well-known. She actually has quite a few recordings from that period, many of which have been long-forgotten.
The Mezzo’s first solo album came in 2002. She performed a number of different arias from such composers as Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti with the Latvian Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Alexandrs Vilumanis. The CD was released by Ondine and gave us a sense of the mezzo’s technical prowess in repertoire that became a major part of her early career (though she has sung some of the roles recorded in recent years).
Ever imagine Garanča in a baroque opera? Well in 2005, the mezzo appeared on a recording of the Vivaldi opera under Fabio Biondi. She appeared alongside Ildebrando d’Arcangelo, David Daniels, and Patrizia Ciofi.
For many years, Garanča was a famed Adalgisa all around the world. But perhaps her touchstone moment in the role came when she sang it alongside none other than Edita Gruberova. Writing about her performance on the recording from 2006, Classics Today noted, “Mezzo Elina Garanča’s Adalgisa is close to world-class. She may not have the emotional openness that makes the character so special, but her tone is resplendent, from the intense top to the warm, round, non-aggressive bottom.”
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
The Latvian diva starred in her own recording of Rossini’s classic masterpiece in 2008, appearing alongside Lawrence Brownlee and Nathan Gunn. The album is pretty hard to find these days and rather pricey wherever it is available.
Garanča has always been a major Mozart interpreter and it is no surprise that she would dedicate an entire album to the composer. She did so in 2006, performing both opera and concert arias alongside the Camerata Salzburg under the direction of Louis Langrée.