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Elīna Garanča (soprano)
Arias by Mozart and Vivaldi
rec. 2004/5
ERATO 9029 590599 [62:06]

Erato has reached into its back catalogue to bring together as a collection a number of Elīna Garanča’s finest arias, previously contained on her two successful Mozart and Vivaldi albums, both released in 2005. These acclaimed albums followed close on the heels of Garanča’s international breakthrough at the 2003 Salzburg Festival as Annio in a production of Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito. Six of the arias here are taken from her Erato recital album titled Elina Garanča - Mozart Opera & Concert Arias. The other seven tracks are from the world première recording of Vivaldi’s opera Bajazet, originally on Virgin Classics.

Often associated with filigree Bel canto roles, the Latvian born mezzo-soprano Garanča has also played her fair share of trouser roles. Here she is singing the cavalier Ramiro from Mozart’s La finta giardiniera and the prince Andronicus from Vivaldi’s Bajazet. Incidentally, at the time of writing Garanča has, according to her Web site, turned her back on trouser roles. She sang her final Octavian at New York Met in May 2017. Garanča said in 2013 that, as she turns forty, such roles would not be suitable. She intended to sing increasingly challenging soprano parts such as Verdi, and more dramatic repertoire of which she sees Amneris (Aida), a mezzo role, as the summit. In the recording studio, Garanča has now extended her reach in 2016 with a captivating new album “Revive” on Deutsche Grammophon, which I reviewed. The dramatic soprano role of Santuzza (Cavalleria Rusticana) was sung at La Scala, Milan in 2015 and Opéra National de Paris in 2016. Roles already in her diary are Princess of Eboli (Don Carlo) and Delilah (Samson and Delilah). Garanča has also mentioned an interest in Wagnerian roles, notably Kundry (Parsifal) and Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde).
Every track on Garanča’s album is first-rate, with several that I find of particular merit. Garanča sings Fiordiligi’s challenging act-one aria Come scoglio from Così fan tutte with such glorious expression. From the same opera, the frantic emotion of Dorabella’s act-one aria Smanie implacabili proves an ideal vehicle to display Garanča’s dramatic prowess. Among Vivaldi’s Bajazet with Andronicus’s act-one arias, I relished the heroic character that Garanča gives to Quel ciglio vezzosetto. Her control of the coloratura demands of Non ho nel sen costanza is remarkably adept. Garanča’s smoky timbre has pleasing weight, attractive smoothness with an alluring sensuality. There is an innate ability to convey emotion with her words together with a pleasing nuance. Nevertheless, at times some arias would benefit from additional vocal colour.

In the Mozart opera arias, the Camerata Salzburg, adopting a period style, are alert and responsive under Louis Langrée’s direction. In the single Mozart concert aria Ch’io mi scordi di te with the piano obbligato part, Frank Braley is a sensitive partner to Garanča. Fabio Biondi conducts Europa Galante in Vivaldi works from Bajazet using period instruments in a fresh and direct performance that suits the music entirely.

Recorded at two venues—Mozarteum, Salzburg and Musica Numeri, Brussels—Garanča benefits from gratifying sound that I find immediate with agreeable clarity and balance between voice and orchestra. I notice the album cover use the same images as Garanča’s 2005 Mozart release, which is one way of combating the ageing process, I suppose. There is Oliver Buslau’s helpful essay in the accompanying booklet titled “Trouser Roles and Intrigues”. Most regrettably, no sung texts are provided.

This is a high-quality album, a collection of Mozart and Vivaldi arias, which does justice to the talents of this remarkable artist.

Michael Cookson

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
La clemenza di Tito KV621
1. Aria “Deh, se piacer mi vuoi” (Vitellia, Act 1) [5:54]
Così fan tutte KV588
2. Recitative & aria “Temerari! … Come scoglio” (Fiordiligi, Act 1) [5:50]
La finta giardiniera KV196
3. Aria “Se l’augellin sen fugge” (Ramiro, Act 1) [4:19]
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Bajazet RV703
4. Aria “Quel ciglio vezzosetto” (Andronicus, Act 1) [6:23]
5. Recitative “E bella Irene!” [0:46]
6. Aria “Non ho nel sen costanza” (Andronicus, Act 1) [5:28]
7. Recitative “Ah, disperato Andronico!” [0:52]
8. Aria “La sorte mia spietata” (Andronicus, Act 2) [6:13]
9. Recitative “Lascerò di regnare” [0:38]
10. Aria “Spesso tra vaghe rose” (Andronicus, Act 3) [7:20]
11. Finale “Coronata di gigli e rose” (Andronicus, Irene, Idaspe, Asteria, Tamerlane, Act 3) [1:30]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
La finta giardiniera
12. Aria “Va pure ad altri” (Ramiro Act 3) [3:31]
Così fan tutte
13. Recitative & aria “Ah! Costati … Smanie implacabili”(Dorabella, Act 1) [3:10]
14. Concert aria with piano obbligato “Ch’io mi scordi di te … Non temer, amato bene” KV505 [10:04]
No sung texts
Frank Braley piano (track 14)
Elīna Garanča, mezzo-soprano
Vivica Genaux, mezzo-soprano (Irene), Patricia Ciofi, soprano (Idaspe), Marijana Mijanovic, mezzo-soprano (Asteria), David Daniels, countertenor (Tamerlane) (track 11)
Camerata Salzburg / Louis Langrée (tracks 1–3, 12–14)
Europa Galante / Fabio Biondi (tracks 4–11)
rec. August 2005, Grosser Saal, Mozarteum, Salzburg (1–3, 12–14) & April 2004, Flagey Studio 4, Musica Numeri, Brussels (4–11)



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