The career of mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča had a meteoric rise following the 2003 Salzburg Festival, where she appeared to acclaim as Annio in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito. As critics and admirers attest, her vocal talent is immense. She has appeared on several chart-topping recordings with Anna Netrebko and on the Grammy-winning Vivaldi opera CD Bajazet, with soprano Patrizia Ciofi. Garanča was obviously chosen for those successful efforts because of the beauty of her creamy, powerful voice and her extraordinary dramatic skills. Garanča possesses a large repertory of operatic roles, and her concert and recital repertory is also broad. Garanča's recordings are available on DG, Ondine, Virgin Classics, and TDK, and, as of a 2017 release featuring arias by Mozart and Vivaldi, Erato.
Elīna Garanča was born on September 16, 1976, in Riga, Latvia, then part of the Soviet Union. Both her parents were professional musicians: her father was a choral conductor and her mother a singer and voice teacher at the Latvian Academy of Music and Latvian National Opera. In 1996 she enrolled at that same academy and studied voice with Sergei Martinov. She also studied in Austria and the U.S. Garanča had a watershed year in 1999: she became a member of the Meiningen Opera (Südthüringisches Staatstheater) and also won the Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in Finland. The following year she joined the Frankfurt Opera, where she sang several roles, including Rosina in Rossini's The Barber of Seville.
In 2001, her first recording, Arie Favorite, featuring arias by Mozart, Donizetti, and Bellini, was issued on the Ondine label. Garanča followed her 2003 Salzburg Festival triumph with a string of impressive debuts, including at the Vienna State Opera (2004) and Paris Opera (2005), both in the role of Dorabella.
Garanča signed an exclusive recording contract with DG in 2005, the first fruits coming the following year with the Mozart Album, which also featured Netrebko. Garanča's 2008 debut at the Met as Rosina was a sensation, and she followed with equally impressive performances at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin as Octavian in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich as Adalgisa in Bellini's Norma. Among her subsequent recordings was Aria Cantilena on DG, a collection of songs and arias by Offenbach, Villa-Lobos, and others.
The 2010s saw continued triumphs for Garanča, both on the operatic stage and in the recording studio. Romantique, her recording of arias with the Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, won the prestigious ECHO Klassik award in Germany in 2013. Several other Garanča albums, including 2016's Revive, have been thematically organized collections of arias from major operas. On-stage she has continued to favor mainstream Italian and French roles, returning to the Metropolitan Opera as Sara in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux in 2016. Garanča is married to conductor Karel Mark Chichon, with whom she has had two daughters. She is the author of an autobiography, Wirklich wichtig sind die Schuhe (Really Important Are the Shoes). ~ Robert Cummings & James Manheim