The best of Elīna Garanča, the ‘mezzo of a generation’

Elīna Garanča, who will make her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in concerts March 31 to April 5, has been hailed as “the mezzo-soprano of this generation.” 

Born in Riga, Latvia, the vocalist has regularly performed at many of the world’s greatest opera houses and recital halls, including the Metropolitan Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, Royal Opera House/Covent Garden, Salzburg Festival, Teatro alla Scala, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Carnegie Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Opéra National de Paris, Wiener Staatsoper and others.   

After making her Met debut as Rosina in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia in 2008, Garanča was proclaimed to be “the real thing” by the New York Times. She returned to the Met for what is now one of her signature roles: Carmen from Bizet’s Carmen in 2010 (and again in 2015), receiving great acclaim. 

The playlist below features tracks from the following albums:

Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder and Mahler: Rückert-Lieder (DG, 2021): Featured here are Wagner’s “Schmerzen” and Mahler’s “Liebst du um Schönheit” and “Um Mitternacht.” Garanča­ will perform the Rückert-Lieder during her concerts with the CSO this spring. 

Schumann and Brahms Lieder (DG): Released in 2020 and selected here to showcase her first recorded lieder recital is “Süsser Freund, du blickest” from Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben. 

Elgar: Sea Pictures (Decca, 2020): Recorded in 2020 with Staatskapelle Berlin under former CSO music director Daniel Barenboim, the disc features Garanča­’s warm and soulful treatment of “Sabbath Morning at Sea.”   

“Elīna Garanča Sings Mozart and Vivaldi” (Erato, 2017): Breaking from the Romantic and going back in time to Baroque, the mezzo offers “Spesso tra vaghe rose” from Vivaldi’s Bajazet. In 2005, she recorded the opera with Europa Galante, which was nominated for a Grammy.

“Revive” (DG, 2016): The aria “Voi lo sapete, o mamma” from Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana shows off Garanča­’s dramatic capabilities. Her role debut as Santuzza was with the Paris Opéra in 2016.   

“Meditation” (DGG, 2014):William Gomez’s gorgeous arrangement of Caccini’s “Ave Maria” has been a staple of Garanča­’s repertoire. She has performed it on multiple occasions at Klassik unter Sternen, with conductor (and husband) Karel Mark Chichon.   

“Romantique” (DG, 2012): Garanča recorded “Ô ma lyre immortelle,” the title character’s final and tragic aria from Gounod’s Sapho, with the Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna and conductor Yves Abel.      

“Habanera” (DG, 2010): “Près des remparts de Séville” and “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” showcase her alluring interpretation of Bizet’s heroine.