Mezzo Garanca seduces Budapest audience with her 'Carmen'

Sat Apr 18, 2015 10:09am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca left the audience roaring for more at the end of a recital in Budapest which might have seemed a little short on substance were her singing not so outstanding.

A star of the opera firmament, Garanca sang for only 20 minutes in the first half of her Budapest Spring Festival recital on Friday, with a mix of arias by Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens and Gounod.

She sang again for only 20 minutes in the second half pieces of Bizet's opera "Carmen", a role she has made her own in recent years as the siren of the title who, in the famous "Habanera", warns men "if I fall in love with you, watch out".

Both halves of the concert were fleshed out with lively interludes performed by the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Garanca's husband, Karel Mark Chichon.

There seemed to be few complaining of being shortchanged in the audience at the sold-out Palace of the Arts.

Garanca changed from a smoky-gray, floor length gown in the first half, to a red one befitting the "Carmen" arias for the second half. She also threw in three knockout encores.

Criticized by some reviewers of her "Carmen" for seeming not to click with her tenor co-stars, she turns up the heat in recital. Her "Habanera" was sultry enough but the show-stopper, and last piece on the program, was "Les tringles des sistres tintaient".

Garanca and the Hungarian orchestra worked the piece - sometimes called the "Gypsy Song" - to a boiling frenzy. She gave out a yelp as she stopped singing while the orchestra carried on at breakneck speed to the end.   Continued...

Opera singer Elina Garanca of Latvia smiles during a news conference promoting a concert in Vienna May 17, 2010. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader