Elīna Garanča 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. In 2006 she received the European Culture Prize during a gala at the Semper Opera in Dresden which was broadcast on German television.