Listening to Elīna Garanča’s latest CD is a supremely gratifying experience. Released by Deutsche Grammophon (DG 479 0071), Romantique is a collection of 9 opera arias performed by the Latvian lyric mezzo – soprano with the Filharmonica del Tetro Comunale di Bologna conducted by Yves Abel.
The arias on this CD (her 5th solo album), are owned by heroines of 19th century opera. This is not a populist collection. Rather, it is informed repertoire that is perfectly suited to her voice at this point in her career and which she performs with complete mastery. The power of her voice is ever present along with flawless technique, silken tone and a glorious range.
The arias, mostly sung in French are rarely heard gems from the bel canto and dramatic repertoire. Three arias from Gounod feature on the recording: O ma lyre immortelle from Sapho, Faites-lui mes aveux from Faust and Plus grand dans son obscurité from La Reine de saba; Tchaikovsky’s Joan of Arc (The Maid of Orléans) and Saint-Saens’ Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix from Samson et Dalila provide moments of intense drama with more bel canto arias from Donizetti Oh! Mon Fernand from La Favorite, Lalo’s De tous cotés…lorsque je t’ai vu soudain from Le Roi d’Ys and even Vaccai Giulietta! Oh, mia Giulietta…Ah, se tu dormi from Giulietta e Romeo.
Born in Riga, in 1976, Elīna Garanča came to international attention in the final of the 2001 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Appearances in the opera houses of Europe followed, singing roles like Rosina, Cherubino, Orlofsky and Dorabella at the Vienna State Opera, Theatre an der Wein, Frankfurt, Salzburg and Paris. She made her Covent Garden debut as Dorabella in 2007 and at The Met in 2008 as Rosina.
The arias she sings on Romantique, are roles she has yet to perform on stage. The recording may be her intimation that she is indeed ready to take up this more mature repertoire.
The only thing better than listening to this recording would be to hear her performing these roles on stage.
Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©