Conversation: Mezzo-Soprano Elīna Garanča

Classic Arts Features   Conversation: Mezzo-Soprano Elīna Garanča
Following her Met debut last season in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Latvian-born Elīna Garanča is back as the title heroine in Rossini's La Cenerentola (thru May 9). But, as she tells Charles Sheek, she's more than just a Rossini specialist.


You made your professional debut in Donizetti's Anna Bolena at the age of 21: on short notice and while still a student! Were you terrified?

I was so busy memorizing and getting ready that I didn't have time to get scared. It was very exciting. It was a co-production, with semi-staged performances in Bucharest and Athens. I had just ten days to prepare the role!

Had you always wanted to be a singer?

I come from a musical family. Originally I wanted to be in musicals, but once I started vocal training I was quickly drawn to opera because it so perfectly combines movement, drama, and music.

You're in your second Rossini role at the Met. Are you making a specialty of this composer?

It's actually a coincidence that I'm returning in another of Rossini's works. I don't really consider myself to be a Rossini singer. It's a challenge for me to make those little notes run. I feel that my voice wants to have longer lines, and legato, rather than quick runs, so this Cenerentola may be one of my last roles in Rossini repertory.

The opera's great coloratura showpiece, "Nacqui all'affanno," is especially difficult.

For me it's the Olympics: adrenaline at its highest. To get through it I must switch on all the buttons in the computer in my head and body.

Next season you'll be back in a new production of Les Contes d'Hoffmann, directed by Bartlett Sher, who also directed you in Barbiere.

I just love working with Bart. He's such a talent with a great imagination. He trusts in actors and artists, and that's what makes him so easy to work with.

Both Hoffmann and Cenerentola will be seen live in high definition in movie theaters. Are you looking forward to your HD debut?

The fact that it's being shown live all over the world makes my heart jump. So it's best I don't think about it! This opera is perfect for HD because everyone knows the story of Cinderella. It's witty and comic: plus the music is great!


La Cenerentola ends its run May 9. That performance will be broadcast to movie screens around the world as part of the Met's Live in HD series. For tickets, information and movie theatre listings, visit The Metropolitan Opera.

Ms. Garanca's new CD, Bel Canto, is currently available at the Met Opera Shop.

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