It seems a safe bet that 1976-born Lativan mezoo-soprano Elina Garanca will become one of the major opera singers of the future: She has signed a solo contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Her manager is Jeffrey Vanderveen (who also happens to be the manager of Anna Netrebko). She looks great, she acts great, she sings great. What more can you ask for? Not much as I am concerned.
For this her debut disc for DG, "Aria Cantilena" she sings a varied repertoire, from zarzuela arias to excerpts from Rosenkavalier.
First of all, Elina Garanca has one of the finest mezzo-soprano voices of today with an astonishing solid middle register, excellent technical control and dashing coloratura as well as a beautiful timbre. For the pedantic, she may occasionally strain and be slightly off-pitch on the highest notes, however it seems more a result of her dramatic expression running away with her than of a genuine vocal problem.
Secondly, Elina Garanca is wonderfully dramatic and forceful as an interpreter. I wouldn´t necessarily disagree wildly if some listeners find her interpretatively unvaried, however I personally found her to be completely refreshing.
Her coloratura-technique is flashed on the two Rossini tracks from La Cenerentola (Naqui all´affanno) and L´Italiana in Algeri (Concedi, amor pietoso).
Even Werther´s Charlotte benefits from this straight-forward interpretation, which, agreed is not very French at all. Admittedly I have never been on to care much for diction (except in Wagner, which is not relevant here), but objectively her French diction is somewhat less than perfect, which also applied to the superbly sung Vois sous l'archet fremmisant from Hoffmann´s Tales.
For the two Rosenkavalier-excerpts Elina Garanca has been given superb colleagues in Diana Damrau and Adrianne Pieczonka. Furthermore, Octavian is a role which superbly suits Elina Garanca´s straightforwardness, dramatically as well as vocally.
Perhaps, the best track on the disc is a superb no-nonsense rendition of Las Carceleras from the zarzuela "Las hijas del Zebedeo".
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):