Favorite Mezzo!

I really don’t know how it couldn’t have happened earlier….aaahhh….today everything will change!!!!....Just kidding!))))). Actually, not totally kidding, it’s just a little talking drama queen inside me!:). What I’m trying to say in these sentences is that I wanna tell you about my favorite mezzo soprano ELINA GARANČA!!! YEAH!!!! I’m honestly wondering why I haven’t managed to make it before! WHY!?!?!? I think most opera bloggers try to write about their favorite singers/operas/productions asap! And me…I guess I just love too many things and can’t write about everything at once (so I’m working on it!).


But back to the main topic! I’ve decided to confess why I love Elina Garanča, how I came across her and give you my recommendations about her CDs and DVDs. 

Elina Garanča is a Latvian mezzo soprano. She was born in a musical family: her father is a chorus director and mother is a vocal coach in Latvian State Conservatory. Elina’s mother is her first teacher and she still consults her. She studied in her hometown, won several international contests. Her breakthrough happened in 2003 when she performed as Annio in «La clemenza di Tito» during Salzburg Festival. After that she debuted at all big opera houses like Covent Garden, Opera Garnier, Metropolitan Opera etc. Now Elina is an international opera star!

My first experience of listening to her occurred when I was watching the concert «Opera stars Gala in Baden-Baden» with Elina Garanča, Anna Netrebko, Ramon Vargas and Ludovic Tezier. I was watching it because of Anna:) and at that time I was thinking of finding a good, contemporary lyric mezzo (as I was considered to be a mezzo by my vocal coach). And there she was! Immediately, I fell in love with Elina’s timbre. She sang so easily and purely but in the artistic way, I was not so satisfied. Anyway I began looking for any information about her, listening to all her recordings. I watched Met’s «La cenerentola» (an amazing production, by the way, which made me love Met very much) and then finally I got on the hook! I saw that she could be a good actress as well as a good singer! And now it’s non-stop! I’ve created a group in the social network devoted to her, watched a lot of documentaries about Elina etc.


Beside Elina’s voice, beautiful appearance and talent, I find her a very smart and interesting person. Elina is not as crazy as Anna Netrebko:), for instance, and I like it. She is thoughtful, rational and at the same time she can be very funny. She knows exactly what to sing and how to work on a piece. Another thing that admires me is how she can speak different languages (German, English, Russian) so fluently and almost without any accent! Marvellous!!! Elina speaks English perfectly without any common mistakes. Russian is good. I can’t say anything about German as I don’t know it:). 

Most of all, I love her two CDs: «Bel Canto» (2009) and «Romantique» (2012).


Thanks to «Bel Canto» I’ve discovered the beauty of such type of music! The tracks are arias and scenes from rarely performed operas of Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti. The centre of belcanto music is voice, melody. Constantly listening to all pieces, I learnt all of them by heart in a week! All these little passages or trillos are joy for ears!!! It’s very hard to pick the most beautiful arias from the recording cause they are all amazing! Aria «Dopo l'oscuro nembo» («Adelson e Salvini») is very simple and relaxing. You just let the music flow through your body enjoying the magic of Elina’s voice! I mostly preferred to listen to this CD when I went to bed. Give it a try too:).  All three «Maria Stuarda» pieces are great and I really, really hope Elina will debut with the role of Elizabeth in the future. I’ve watched this opera and I like Elizabeth’s character and music more than Maria’s arias. 

One of the best Elina’s roles, in my opinion, is Romeo from Bellini’s «I Capuleti e I Montecchi». «Bel Canto» CD presents extracts from this opera too. When I see or hear a mezzo singing a «travesty» role, it’s a bit of challenge for me to perceive her as a boy/man at the beginning. But Elina transforms very quickly.  As a proof I’ll show you a photo from the ROH production where she was with Anna Netrebko (as her Juliette).


Elina has such an appearance that when she puts on a boyish wig, she really looks like a very young, cute boy! Just look at her! Isn’t she adorable?:) Besides that, Elina admits that this part suits her very well, like honey for her vocal chords. I can explain it as the score is written mostly in a high range for mezzo which Elina can deal with! I also highly recommend the recording of this Bellini’s opera released by Deutsche Grammophon.


Rossini’s opera «Maometto II» is staged very, very seldom in opera houses. Its terzetto «In questi estremi istanti» is amazing!!!! I love the harmony that Rossini has created here (he is a great master of such things!). All the voices, Elina Garanča, Ekaterina Siurina, Matthew Polenzani, sound so well together. Ekaterina’s timbre is very pure and light and with Elina they are such a great soprano-mezzo duet, especially it can be heard in the track «La speme un dolce palpito».


CD «Romantique» only consists of 9 tracks. Most of them I heard for the first time. I hadn’t known some composers till the date of its release like Nicola Vaccai or Edouard Lalo. But it’s always very exciting to find something new for yourself in opera music!!! And it seems to me that mezzo’s repertoire is richer with unknown or not so popular works than soprano’s.

The most mind-blowing aria for me is Sapho’s aria «O ma lyre immortelle».  Everytime I almost cry at the end cause it has such a tragic climax when the main heroine decides to drown with her sorrow in the sea. It’s fantastic how Gounod has managed to create such a powerful melody imitating terrifying sea waves!!! Elina unveils all Sapho’s feelings with her voice stunningly!!! It’s impossible to stay apathetical!


In August Madam Garanča and Juan Diego Florez are going to sing in Donizetti’s opera «La Favorite» in Salzburg. «Romantic» recording includes the aria from this belcanto work – «Oh! Mon Fernand».  By and large, Donizetti’s works are ideal for Elina’s voice now, for example, her Giovanna Seymour is flawless!!! (I advise you to watch the production of Vienna State Opera). I have no doubts that she’ll perform very well as Leonor too!

I’m always very happy when my favorite mezzo sings something in my native language. And it’s a gift for all her Russian fans to get an aria of Joan of Arc from Tchaikovsky’s «The Maid of Orleans». Here we have a farewell scene before the heroine becomes a real fighter for her country! It’s a very emotional monologue of Joan. She is a young woman but she has to defend her land like a man. She says farewell to her motherland and to everybody she holds most dear.  I like Elina’s interpretation and attach the video from her concert below where she performs with it. 

video

A must-see for any person who wants to learn more about this mezzo soprano is «Carmen» (Metropolitan Opera, 2010). It’s a brilliant opera and production itself but Elina reveals her best sides here! I like how she plays a famous gypsy. Her Carmen is not too slutty like many other singers or directors like to do but very independent, free and full of love and passion.  And this is exactly how I imagine this personage! I know many opera lovers think that she is very cold for Carmen. Just watch this production!!! Latvian diva is a real tiger there! Carmen doesn’t have to look arrogantly or aggressively at every male person in a room, she is very confident in herself and she attacks only that man she wants (not everyone!):). These all traits are perfectly demonstrated by Elina with her amazing Jose Roberto Alagna in this production which is one of my favorite now!


Unfortunately, I’ve had no opportunity to attend Elina’s performance yet. But I believe that someday my dream will come true! And I’ll see her on stage, hear her wonderful voice at a live concert or at an opera house!:).

Comments

  1. I agree completely with your sentiments about Elina. She has a wonderful voice and exudes charm. We have seen her many times in person including La Cenerentola and Carmen at MET, Richard Tucker Awards and in recital at Carnegie Hall. The Capuletts and Montecchi with Anna is just sublime. I actually think she sang better than Anna on that one (I adore Anna and have met her on many occasions). We recently saw her in recital at Carnegie Hall (last year) and she was a model of refined elegance. Her style matches her creamy voice which is very different than other mezzos such as Cecilia Bartoli, Joyce Didonato and Bayrakdarian, all of whom I love. You should also consider listening to Vessilina Kasarova or Olga Borodina.

    I usually enjoy the timbre of the slavic/Russian voices which are very rich with many overtones. Netrebko has it all for me. Thank you for a wonderful post.

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  2. You should get a copy of DVD of Anna Bolena from Europe where Elina plays Jane Seymour. It is better that the MET production

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  3. Thanks for your lovely comments! I actually have DVD of Anna Bolena from Vienna. Elina is perfect there!!! So sad that she couldn't make it at the MET((((. Olga Borodina's timbre is very charming too. Her Amneris is unforgettable! I have not seen an opera with Vessilina Kasarova yet but I'd love to.

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