Elīna Garanča (born 16 September 1976) is a Latvian operatic mezzo-soprano. With a musical family background, she began to study singing in her hometown of Riga in 1996 and continued her studies in Vienna and in the United States. By 1999 she had won First Place in a significant competition in Finland and had begun a career in Europe. Worldwide engagements quickly followed her 2003 Salzburg Festival appearances.
Elīna Garanča was born in the Latvian city of Riga into a musical family: her father was a choral director, and her mother Anita was a lieder singer, a professor at the Latvian Academy of Music, an associate professor at the Latvian Academy of Culture, a vocal music teacher at the Latvian National Opera, and also a private voice tutor. Her brother Jānis (sometimes spelled Jaanis) Garančs, three years older than Elīna, started out in music studies, but is now an artist and consultant working with interactive computer-generated visual media.
She entered the Latvian Academy of Music in 1996 to study singing with Sergej Martinov. She continued her studies in Vienna with Irina Gavrilovici and in the United States with Virginia Zeani. Garanča began her professional career at the Südthüringisches Staatstheater in Meiningen and later worked at the Frankfurt Opera. In 1999, she won the Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in Helsinki, Finland.
Garanča's international breakthrough came in 2003 at the Salzburger Festspiele when she sang Annio in a production of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Major engagements followed quickly, such as Charlotte in Werther, Dorabella in Così fan tutte at the Vienna State Opera (2004) and Dorabella in a Paris production directed by Patrice Chéreau (2005). In 2006, she returned to La clemenza di Tito, this time singing the part of Sesto. On 12 January 2008 Garanča made her company and house debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in the role of Rosina in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia. Of her debut, Bernard Holland wrote in The New York Times: "Ms. Garanca is the real thing ... Modern singing techniques adapt with difficulty to Rossini's early-19th-century emphasis on speed, lightness and athletic articulation, and Ms. Garanca was the only one onstage sounding completely comfortable. The lyric passages sang out; the episodes of racecourse delivery were fully in hand". Garanča sang the leading role of Georges Bizet's Carmen in the 2010 production of the Metropolitan Opera. In the opening concert of the 2011 Rheingau Musik Festival in the Eberbach Abbey she performed Alban Berg's Sieben frühe Lieder with the hr-Sinfonieorchester, conducted by Paavo Järvi.
Garanča: "To me it’s not professional to go onstage and burn up,” she said. “My first goal is to present my voice. To this, I add—in no particular order—expression, character, emotion. But first of all it’s about the voice. I’m a singer after all. Otherwise I would have been an actress."
Garanca's repertoire includes:
Her recordings include the Grammy Award winning Bajazet conducted by Fabio Biondi, in which she sang the role of Andronico. In 2005 Garanča signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon.
Other audio recordings include:
DVD recordings include:
Garanča is married to the conductor Karel Mark Chichon, and they have two daughters.