Last October, I shared my enthusiasm for my latest YouTube discovery, the Russian-born soprano Anna Netrebko. Since then, I have discovered a small trove of concert videos featuring Anna and her frequent collaborator, mezzo-soprano Elina Garanča, that I am just as eager to share.
According to her website, Elina “…was born in Riga in 1976 into a musical family. In 1996 she entered the Latvian Academy of Music in Riga. One of her most formative experiences came in 1998 while she was still a student: with only ten days’ notice, she performed the role of Giovanna Seymour in Anna Bolena and uncovered a deep affinity with the bel canto repertoire. After graduation she joined the Meiningen Staatstheater in Germany where she appeared in roles including Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. In 1999 she also sang the role of Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Savonlinna Opera Festival and won the Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in Finland. She has since appeared at the world’s major opera houses and concert venues and established herself as one of the music world’s newest stars thanks to her beautiful voice, musicianship and compelling stage portrayals.”
The first two duets that follow were filmed at the Baden-Baden Opera Gala in 2007. The first is “The Flower Duet” from Delibes’ Lakmé. Anna Netrebko sings the role of Lakmé, and Elina Garanča, her servant Mallika. I’ve heard snippets of this piece many times over the years – and wondered what it was – but had never heard it in its entirety until I watched this video.
Our next duet is “Mira, o Norma” from Bellini’s Norma. Anna Netrebko sings the title role, and Elina Garanča the role of Adalgisa.
Our final piece is the exquisite “Barcarolle” from Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann. Filmed during a recording session for Anna Netrebko’s 2008 album “Souvenirs”, this piece showcases the warmth and beauty of Elina Garanča’s lower register. Listening to it, I am struck by the thought that in this brief video, we are hearing two consummate artists at the absolute top of their game.