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French and Italian Arias and Duets
Ekaterina Siurina (soprano)
Charles Castronovo (tenor), Rita Preiksaite (mezzo-soprano)
Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian
rec. 2019, Kaunas Philharmonic, Lithuania
Sung texts with English translations enclosed DELOS DE3583 [76:11]
Russian soprano Ekaterina Siurina has, after her debut as Gilda in Rigoletto at the Novaya Opera in Moscow opposite Dmitri Hvorostovsky, had an important international career in a wide variety of roles: the Vienna State Opera, the Opéra de Paris, Monte Carlo and Teatro alla Scala before she bowed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in October 2006, also as Gilda, and the Duke was another debutant; Joseph Calleja. Her later career has brought her to most of the famous opera houses and festivals, including Savonlinna and Arena di Verona. Gradually she has also widened her repertoire from coloratura and bel canto roles to lyrical roles of which we are offered several examples on the present disc, which is her debut solo album. She is represented on several DVD productions of operas, including Il Trittico, L’elisir d’amore, La clemenza di Tito, Idomeneo and Don Giovanni. On this album she is partnered in a couple of duets with her real-life husband, the American lyric tenor Charles Castronovo, who also has an important international career.
The programme is made up of standard arias, but the arias from Louise and Les pêcheurs de perles are comparably seldom heard and the quite extended duet scene from Act IV of Roméo et Juliette is a welcome addition, rarely heard separately.
Ekaterina Siurina has a beautiful voice, sings with good legato, is careful with nuances and her top rings out with brilliance. She has also a good trill, which she displays in Juliette’s Je veux vivre. Occasionally her vibrato is slightly uneven but that is a minor complaint. By and large she is in full control of her vocal means. Her readings are well considered and there are no idiosyncrasies.
It is a pleasure to hear the aria from Charpentier’s Louise, an opera, or ‘musical novel’, as the composer labelled it, which caused quite a stir when it was premiered in 1900 and quickly was staged in numerous European opera houses and reached the US in 1908. It is still performed but not very frequently, but the aria is a popular show piece at recitals and appears now and then on records as well. Juliette’s waltz song from the first act of Roméo et Juliette is joyous and charming and here it glitters, light and airy. In the duet scene from act IV Ekaterina Siurina is joined by Charles Castronovo, whose lyrical tenor is handled with care and restraint, but he has power in reserve for some dramatic outbursts and his voice rings out with brilliance at forte. Both singers, here and elsewhere, sing tastefully throughout.
The Faust, Pêcheurs and Carmen arias are excellently performed. From the last-named opera she sings of course Micaela’s aria from the third act and demonstrates that the peasant girl is no wimp but a strong-willed and fearless who risks her life to bring Don José back from his unworthy life among the smugglers. It is a dramatic reading of the aria proper – and beautiful.
After the French excursion we move over to the Italian repertoire, even though the two excerpts from La bohème take place in a cold attic in Paris at Christmas time. Mimi’s two arias, very well sung, flank the duet O soave fanciulla where Castronovo again sings with glow and style and accordingly takes the lower option on the final chord. It would have been interesting to get not only Magda’s Chi il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine, but also the preceding solo by Prunier, when a good lyric tenor was at hand. But of course the playing time of the disc is extraordinarily generous anyway, and Ekaterina Siurina sings the solo very well – as she does Liù’s two arias from Turandot.
The gripping Willow Song and the following Ave Maria from Verdi’s penultimate opera Otello is here presented in a very complete version, starting with Emilia’s Era più calmo. Rita Preiksaite has only a few bars to sing but she does it with great feeling, and I have a sense that this long scene means a lot for both singers. There is such concentration in Ms Siurina’s singing from her first utterances to the concluding Ave Maria … nell’ora della morte. Ave! Amen! (Hail Mary … and at the hour of our death. Hail! Amen!) It is a scene that always goes to the heart and here Ekaterina Siurina is Desdemona. A lot in this recital is good but the Willow Song is a number that I am going to return to many times.
Constantin Orbelian and his Lithuanian forces have demonstrated their credentials on several occasions before and they play admirably here too and the recording is excellent. Even though most readers probably are well stocked with recordings of this music, it is valuable to have one of the leading sopranos of today represented on her own disc – and the Willow Song is deeply touching.
Contents Gustave CHARPENTIER (1860 – 1956)
1. Depuis le jour [5:23] Charles GOUNOD (1818 – 1893)
Roméo et Juliette (1867):
2. Je veux vivre [3:40]
3. Va! Je t’ai pardonné [6:04]
4. Roméo! Qu’as-tu donc? [7:01]
5. O Dieu! Que de bijoux [5:15] Georges BIZET (1838 – 1875)
Les pêcheurs de perles (1863):
6. Me voilà seule dans la nuit [6:29]
7. Je dis que rien m’épouvante [6:11] Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
La bohème (1896):
8. Si. Mi chiamano Mimi [4:55]
9. O soave fanciulla [3:50]
10. Donde lieta uscì [2:54]
La Rondine (1917):
11. Chi il bel sogno di Doretta [3:10]
12. Signore, ascolta [2:25]
13. Tu, che di gel sei cinta [2:44] Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
14. Willow Song ... Ave Maria [16:06]