Mezzo Garanca dazzled the Budapest audience with her 'Carmen'

Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca woved the audience at a recital in Budapest

Updated Jul 28, 2015

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.

What to do for an encore could pose a problem for lesser beings, but Garanca came back for three more. One was the little known "Las Hijas del Zebedeo Carceleras" by Spanish composer Ruperto Chapi that is a favorite of hers, perhaps because she gets to trill for about 10 seconds at the end while turning in a full circle on stage.

She ended the night with "O Mio Babbino Caro" from Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi", which has one of the great tunes from opera. It allows everyone to go home happy and humming - and thinking what a privilege it was to see and hear her.