Latvian Elina Garanca is already famous for her mezzo-soprano voice, exceptionally pure and technically agile, and her cool beauty. Her temperament favours warm, southern roles, such as Rosina and Carmen, and here she explores other Romantic French and rarer Italian roles, in addition to Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans, which reflects mainstream European bel canto; she sings it with appropriate grace. Donizetti’s Leonore in La Favorita is earlier bel canto, but GaranΩa catches the dramatic edge as readily as the melting dignity of Vaccai’s Romeo finale, once often substituted for Bellini’s. She describes herself as primarily a lyric mezzo, but many roles here suggest considerable power, emphasised by the echoey recording. Her Dalila (Saint-Saëns) is rather too poised to be sensuous, and Faust’s naive Siebel a touch grand; Margared’s haughty misery, from Lalo’s Le Roi d’Ys, suits her better. Her French isn’t perfect, but very good, and she relishes the lyrical lines of Gounod’s little-known Sapho and Queen of Sheba. As Berlioz’s Marguerite she depicts the unhappiness of ‘D’amour l’ardente flamme’ with great vocal beauty and simplicity of expression. A fine collection.
Michael Scott Rohan