Review by: Robert Levine
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
When this came across my desk and I checked the playlist, my heart sank. Chestnuts galore. Did I really want to hear this selection of French and Italian arias (and duets) sung by a Russian soprano? I’d made a pact with myself that right or wrong, a Russian-bloc Mimi or Liu would have to have something very special in order for me to sit up and listen. Well, wow–Siurina has “special” in spades!
I was impressed from the start, with a lovely “Depuis le jour”, with all of its hurdles neatly cleared, and Juliette’s “Je veux vivre” spotlessly sung, without a hint of the chirpiness or shrillness one might fear comes along with it. But I was stopped in my tracks when she, along with her husband, tenor Charles Castronovo, began the gorgeous duets from Roméo et Juliette: round, luscious tone, a wonderful give-and-take between the lovers, and the urgency and passion absolutely clear.
Marguerite’s Jewel Song gives Siurina a chance to show off her trill, joyful sound, and timing, while the aria from The Pearl Fishers is its usual vague self but Micaela’s aria actually has an effect–a fearful prayer, sung impeccably. Mimi’s first- and third-act arias are ravishing, Siurina’s voice blooming precisely when it ought in the first, and with the inherent sadness and resignation in the second. She and Castronovo sing the first act’s final duet with great warmth.
Doretta’s aria knocked me out from the first words, which actually sound dreamy, and the rise to the pianissimo high-C is a great success. Both of Liu’s arias are sung with purpose and attention to the words. Desdemona’s Act 4 scena is sensitively, hauntingly performed, with each “salce”, more inward.
Siurina’s tone is silvery and light, and only when she pushes for too much volume do you hear a bit of stress. But the legato is flawless, her sense of portamento always at the service at the music, and the sound is always beautiful–almost off-puttingly so since she also is a fine, never over-the-top singing actress. The voice may lack the colors of a Gheorghiu, but her interpretive qualities far outweigh those of the Romanian soprano, and while sincerity can’t really be measured, Siurina seems “inside” her characters while others lean toward generic. There’s no evidence of a fierce bottom register, but it’s not needed in this repertoire. Constantine Orbellian leads the Kaunas Orchestra with warmth and understanding. I’ll be listening to Siurina for a long time.
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Arias by Puccini, Charpentier, Gounod, Bizet, & Verdi
- Ekaterina Siurina (soprano); Charles Casttronovo (tenor)
Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra, Constantine Orbellian
- Catalog # - 3583