Elina Garanča has been hailed as one of the great mezzos of her time and one can see why the moment she steps on stage. She is an imposing actress who personifies each of her characters to perfection and has a luscious and expressive voice. This week she returns to the Metropolitan Opera to end one phase of her career.
The talk of the town has all been about Renée Fleming’s final Marschallin at the Met and while that is a special moment in the diva’s career, Garanča’s performances as Octavian mark her final turn in the opera and her final trouser role. It will also be the first time the mezzo works with Fleming, something that in and of itself is special.
Garanča has made Octavian a signature for years performing the opera in Berlin and Vienna to great acclaim. Of her Octavian critics have raved and said, “Garanča’s voice is rich and plummy, perfect for the cultured Octavian” and “She sang beautifully throughout.” For Met audiences, this will be the first time the mezzo takes on the role with the company and it will be her only performances at the house in two years. As a result, this is a show that cannot be missed.
Met audiences first saw Garanča in 2008 when she sang Rosina in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia.” Her subsequent production came a season later when she brought her Angelina in Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” to life. The opera was broadcast live in HD. That was followed by Carmen in Bizet’s opera, a run of performances that brought her to the fore of the operatic elite and which made her a draw to Met audiences. Not only was her rendition voluptuous and riveting, but it proved a unique and revelatory interpretation. New York audiences also had a chance to see her in Mascagni’s “La Navarraise” and were also treated to her Sesto in Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito.” Her most recent account of Sara in Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux” was spellbinding and even threatened to steal the show from a superstar cast.
Recently Garanča released an album, “Revive,” which showcased another side of her voice and emphasized the darker and more dramatic colors that audiences have been longing to hear from her. Her most recent forays in the dramatic repertoire have included Leonore in Donizetti’s “La Favorite” and Santuzza in Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana. She makes debuts as Eboli on Verdi’s “Don Carlos” and Dalila in Saint-Saens’s “Samson et Dalila” next season.