Germany R.Schumann, A. Berg, R.Strauss: Elīna Garanča (mezzo), Roger Vignoles, National Theater, Munich, 25.7.2012 (JMI)
Schumann: Myrten, Frauenliebe und -leben
Berg: Seven Early Songs
Strauss: Six Songs
There are not many singers, maybe half a dozen, able to fill large venues solely on account of their name-power. Those who can are part of a select group of singers; they are the same ones that can sell lots of records in the current economic situation or even skip performing in operas regularly, which is a much less profitable venture for them.
Elīna Garanča / Chichon / OSNd RAI
Among them the tenors Jonas Kaufmann and Juan Diego Florez, sopranos Renée Fleming and Anna Netrebko, and mezzo soprano Cecilia Bartoli. Add to that grizzled veterans like Placido Domingo, Edita Gruberova, and Leo Nucci whose recitals and concerts are mainly occasions of worship from their dedicated fans in tribute life-time achievements.
Elīna Garanča has everything to be part of this exceptional group of singers: a beautiful voice, an exceptional technique, great elegance, and looks worthy of a film star. A natural fit then, for the Munich Festival to include a recital of the Latvian diva in its program.
With expressive character pieces by Schumann, Berg, and Strauss, rather than razzle-dazzle vocal fireworks, it was a somewhat daring program, too, rather than just an appeasing popular one. Not, unfortunately, and entirely successful one, though. The first part was dedicated to Schumann’s Myrten and Frauenliebe und -leben, a total of 12 songs, some of them very beautiful, but not terribly contrasting. Much the same happened again in the second half, consisting of the first Seven Early Songs by Alban Berg and then six songs by Richard Strauss.
It wasn’t for lack of Garanča’s beautiful voice or her considerable expressiveness, that the selected program seemed too monotonous. Then again, judging by the popular very enthusiastic reception of the recital, the lack of appreciation may have been my fault, entirely. There was no lack of appreciation on anyone’s part, though, after her encores—first a truly exceptional Habanera from Carmen, then a zarzuela, Las Hijas de Zebedeo by Ruperto Chapí, which was the only time her musical partner, Roger Vingoles, was anything less than excellent and idiomatic.
José Mª Irurzun