Born into a musical family in the Latvian capital, Riga, Elīna Garanča entered the Latvian Academy of Music at the age of 20 and was soon on her way to becoming one of the world's outstanding mezzo-sopranos. She started as she meant to go on: while still a student she stepped in at just ten days' notice to perform the role of Giovanna Seymour in Donizetti's Anna Bolena, sparking a love fo the bel canto repertoire which has stayed with her ever since.
After graduating from the Academy, she joined the Meiningen Staatstheater in Germany, appeared as a resident artist with the Frankfurt Opera, sang at the Savonlinna Opera Festival, was a finalist in the 2001 BBC's Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and won the Mirjam Helin Singing Competition in Finland. She consolidated her early career singing at the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, the Helsinki Opera's Rossini Festival, in Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Lucerne and Graz, and in 2003 made a guest appearance for Deutsche Grammophon when she joined Anna Netrebko in a scene and cavatina from Lucia di Lammermoor on Netrebko's debut album, "Opera Arias".
In 2005, her gifts were recognised with an exclusive contract from Deutsche Grammophon. Her first solo recording, "Aria Cantilena", was released in 2007, the same year she made her debut at Covent Garden in the title role of Bizet's Carmen. In 2009, she released "Bel Canto" which won both an Echo Klassik and BBC Music Magazine awards, before being named Musical America's Vocalist of the Year and the MIDEM Classical Award as Singer of the Year 2010. In 2013, she became one of the youngest artists ever to be named "Kammersängerin" at the Wiener Staatsoper.