Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanča has enjoyed considerable success on the world’s major opera stages over the past five years. At the Met she has sung in Rossini’s Barber and in the title role of Cenerentola which concluded the company’s HD telecasts earlier this year. Her DGG recital disc Bel Canto shows her dark and luminous voice to great effect.
The material is material by bel cantos’ big three (Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini) that is infrequently performed. By and large this music’s neglect is earned. It’s a step below these composers best. Most of the pieces are set to the same slow tempo that characterizes all of Parsifal. Towards the end of the disc things speed up a bit. Anything by Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini is worth a listen, but much of the material on this disc will likely not get a second hearing
The main interest here is the singer rather than the music. Garanča has a lush voice that seem very big. It’s the kind of sound that should easily move from Mozart and bel canto to heavier roles such as the Verdi mezzos. Garanča has indicated that she’d eventually like to sing Amneris.
Here’s the terzetto from Act 2 of Rossini’s Maometto II – In questo estremi istanti. Garanča is joined by tenor Matthew Polenzani and soprano Ekaterina Siurina. The concductor is Roberto Abbado. This trio is reminiscent of the same composer’s later opera Semiramide.
Garanča offers a somewhat subdued version of Rossini’s show piece “Di tanti palpiti” that is remarkable for her ability to easily negotiate the number’s runs and acrobatics while keeping the volume down until the piece’s end. A low key bravura performance. This is a voice to keep track of. The recital’s program is below.