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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Dinara Alieva (soprano) - Pace mio Dio and arias
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
La Traviata: Sempre libera [7.26]
Addio del passato [7.10]
Il Trovatore: Tacea la notte [5.47]
D'amor sull'ali rosee [6.08]
La forza del destino: Pace, pace mio Dio! [6.06]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca: Vissi d'arte [3.25]
Gianni Schicchi: O mio babbino caro [2.30]
Madama Butterfly: Un bel di vedremo [4.46]
La Rondine: Chi il bel sogno di Doretta [2.56]
Turandot: Tu che di gel sei cinta [2.56]
Alfredo CATALANI (1854-1893)
La Wally
: Ebben? Ne andro lontan [3.54]
Francesco CILEA (1866-1950)
Adriana Lecouvreur
: Io son l'umile ancella [3.36]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919)
I Pagliacci
: Qual fiamma avea nel guardo! .... Hui! Stridono lassu [5.03]
Czech National Symphony Orchestra/Marcello Rota
rec. CNSO Studio No 1, Prague. No date given
DELOS DE3462 [62.11]

Largely unknown in the West, this calling-card CD provides an opportunity to hear Azerbaijani soprano Dinara Alieva in a variety of well known lyric and lirico-spinto roles from mainstream Italian repertoire. Alieva’s debut CD of Russian Songs and Arias (Naxos 8.572893) passed me by.

The well-presented accompanying booklet to this issue includes a eulogistic essay by prominent Russian commentator Avyatoslav Belza. He also provides biographical details of the singer’s training in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, and recounts some of her roles at the Bolshoi which she joined in 2009, some illustrated with coloured photographs. There are also photographs of Alieva alongside such famous names as Caballé, Berganza and Elena Obratzsova, each of whom provide encouraging quotes as to her singing skills and vocal qualities. The booklet also gives contextual introductions as well as the words of the arias and English translation, the former sequentially rather than side by side.

As I indicate, this collection of arias encompasses roles that I associate with the lyric soprano and spinto fachs. We start with the act 1 coloratura showpiece arias Eh strano and the cabaletta Sempre libera from La Traviata. This is a role Alieva sang at the Bolshoi and more recently in Deutsche Opera, Berlin’s October 2013 production of the work. What is immediately obvious that she is no tweety coloratura. Her voice is full, warm and well-coloured which alongside good diction enables to characterise the words and their emotions superbly (tr.1). As contemporary diva Renee Fleming has noted, each act of La Traviata requires different vocal skills and characteristics from the singer of the eponymous role. Whilst I had a minor reservation about Miss Alieva’s tendency to be a bit effortful in the concluding high notes of the first part of the act one aria, adequate though they are, her rendition of the act three recitative and aria had me gripping the arms of my chair (tr.2). Taking the first two tracks as evidence, this was an interpretation more in the mode of Callas than Caballé. I was sorry that a Germont was not on hand for this Violetta to confront in the act two scene from the opera.

In the extracts from Puccini’s operas that follow, Alieva tackles the diverse demands of the lyric O mio babbino cara from Gianni Schicchi (tr.4), Magda’s Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine (tr.6) and Liu’s gentle Tu che di gel sei cinta from Turandot (tr.7), all with gentle full-toned phrasing and good expression. However, it is in the demands of Tosca’s Prayer (tr.5) and Cio-Cio San’s despairing Un bel di (tr.5) that her warm voice soars whilst bringing a level of emotion and expression that really impresses. She sails through the lesser-known demands of Cilea and Puccini’s near neighbour and contemporary, Catalani, with similar skill. As I listened with pleasure to these verismo pieces I could barely wait for the end of the disc to hear her as Leonora in Trovatore and La Forza del Destino. However, from the Puccini repertoire I regretted the omission of Musetta’s Waltz Song from La Boheme, a role that she has sung at The Bolshoi. I say this especially because a glamorous full-page colour picture of her in costume is included (p.22) and which I guess suited her voice and temperament well.

It was after listening to the three concluding arias (trs. 11-13), comprising Tacea la note and D'amor sull'ali rosee from Trovatore and Pace, pace mio Dio! from La Forza del Destino that I finally convinced myself that after too many false starts among some contemporary over-hyped singers, I was listening to the genuine article. Here is a possible worthy successor to some of the greats. I have mentioned her characteristic vocal qualities and they are all heard to advantage in this final group of arias, plus the presence of a good grill. Not since I heard Inessa Galante’s debut album, which reached Gold and Platinum status (Campion), and reviewed her later disc of Verdi arias (see review) have I been so impressed by potential as I am with this singing from Dinara Alieva. Regrettably, Galante, although widely admired by critics, did not get the breaks and disappeared back into East Europe, her vocal qualities unrecognised by the people that matter at the best operatic addresses. Matters are different now and East Europeans are getting plenty of opportunity to shine at the Met and Covent Garden. I suggest this singer is worthy of at least a hearing. With careful management to add to her personal glamour she should enjoy a good career. I look forward to hearing more of and from her. Her 2014 engagements include the role of Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with the Vienna Staatsoper; Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with the Deutsche Oper Berlin and with the Bolshoi Opera in the role of Marfa in Rimsky Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride, as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

The recording is good if slightly resonant, with Marcello Rota and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra giving idiomatic support. One further regret is that Delos did not afford the addition of a tenor for the linking phrases in the Traviata arias and the start of the Trovatore act four scene.

Robert J Farr