Elina Garanča was born in the Latvian city of Riga into a musical family, her father a choral director, her mother Anita is a lieder singer, a professor at the Latvian Academy of Music, an associated professor at the Latvian Academy of Culture, a vocal music teacher at the Latvian National Opera, and also a private voice tutor. Her brother Jānis (aka Jaanis) Garančs, three years older than Elīna, started out in music studies, but is now an interactive computer generated visual media artist and consultant.
She entered the Latvian Academy of Music in 1996 to study singing with Sergej Martinov. She continued her studies in Vienna with Irina Gavrilović and in the United States with Virginia Zeani. Garanča began her professional career at the Südthüringisches Staatstheater in Meiningen and later worked at the Frankfurt Opera. In 1999, she won the Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in Helsinki, Finland.
Garanča's international breakthrough came in 2003 at the Salzburger Festspiele when she sang Annio in a production of Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Major engagements followed quickly, such as Charlotte in Werther, Dorabella in Così fan tutte at the Vienna State Opera (2004) and Dorabella in a Paris production directed by Patrice Chéreau (2005). In 2006, she returned to La clemenza di Tito, this time singing the part of Sesto. On January 12, 2008, Garanča made her company and house debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in the role of Rosina in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia. Of her debut, Bernard Holland wrote in The New York Times: "Ms. Garanca is the real thing (...) Modern singing techniques adapt with difficulty to Rossini's early-19th-century emphasis on speed, lightness and athletic articulation, and Ms. Garanca was the only one onstage sounding completely comfortable. The lyric passages sang out; the episodes of racecourse delivery were fully in hand". Garanča sang the leading role of Georges Bizet's Carmen in the 2010 production of the Metropolitan Opera. In the opening concert of the 2011 Rheingau Musik Festival in the Eberbach Abbey she performed Alban Berg's Sieben frühe Lieder with the hr-Sinfonieorchester, conducted by Paavo Järvi.
Other recordings include:
- Anna Bolena by Donizetti (DVD recording from Vienna State Opera)
- I Capuleti e i Montecchi by Vincenzo Bellini (audio recording)
- Norma by Vincenzo Bellini (audio recording)
- Il barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini (audio recording)
- Arie Favorite (audio recording, Ondine)
- Habanera (audio recording, Deutsche Grammophon)
- Aria Cantilena (audio recording, Deutsche Grammophon)
- Mozart: Opera and Concert Arias (audio recording, EMI Classics)
- Bel Canto (audio recording, Deutsche Grammophon)
- Romantique (audio recording, Deutsche Grammophon)
- The Opera Gala: Live from Baden-Baden ft. Anna Netrebko, Ramón Vargas, and Ludovic Tézier (audio recording)
- La cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini (DVD)
- Carmen by Georges Bizet (DVD)
- Gurewitsch, Matthew (June 28, 2009). "A Mezzo Kicks Up Her Heels in High Style". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
- Loomis, George (January 10, 2008). "Opera's Switch Hitter". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
- "Elina Garanca - Biography". Deutsche Grammophon. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
- Kuusisaari, Harri (July 22, 2009). "Latvian blonde is eager to alter her image". The Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition. Finnish Cultural Foundation.
- "Anita Garanča".
- "Jaanis Garancs". www.garancs.net.
- Holland, Bernard (January 14, 2008). "Barreling Through Rossini With a ‘Noises Off’ Rhythm". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- Klaus Ackermann (27 June 2011). "Magische Momente". op-online.de. Retrieved 27 June 2011. (German)
- "Garanča Baby « The Eyes Have It". 2011-11-15. Retrieved 2011-12-10
- "Pregnant Garanca cancels shows at Met, Covent Garden". FRANCE 24. 10 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.