Dinara Alieva (soprano) & Aleksandrs Antonenko (tenor)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
1. Celeste Aida
2. Ritorna vincitor!
3. In questa tomba
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
4. Recondita armonia
5. Vissi d'arte
6. E lucevan le stelle
7. Mario! Mario! Mario! ...Son qui! ... Mia gelosa!
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
The Queen of Spades
8. Krasavitsa! Boginya! Angel!
9. Uzh polnoch blizitsya
10. A yesli mne v otvet chasy probyut
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Il trovatore
11. Miserere d'un' alma giÓ vicina
Kaunas State Choir
Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian
rec. 2014, Kaunas Philharmonic Hall
Full texts and English translations
DELOS DE3477 [74:41]

This typically high quality Delos disc is handsomely produced, provides extended excerpts from four great operas, features two of the most sought-after young singers on the circuit today and is in excellent sound. It will attract opera buffs and novices alike.

Dinara Alieva is the best new Verdi singer since Sondra Radvanovsky and here confirms what we have already heard in her solo album of Russian songs and arias for Naxos and her previous recital of operatic plums on Delos. She has a big, pure, vibrant sound with a touch of the smokiness which often enhances great voices. If her trill in the “Il trovatore” aria is sometimes a touch sketchy and occasionally one could wish for a more distinct variation in the characterisation of her chosen heroines, these are minor cavils in comparison with the gleam and thrill of her lustrous soprano. To compensate, has any recent soprano sung “gli areca I miei sospiri “ with its concluding B flat with such gorgeous, floating intensity and security?

About Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko I am marginally less enthusiastic, if only because I detect an element of forcing in his tonal production. I very much hope that this does not constitute the onset of consistent over-singing which can so easily curtail a tenor’s career. Loud top notes tend to spread a little and there is nothing especially distinctive about his sound, which is apparently sizeable – I have not heard him live. However, to some degree his timbre reminds me of some excellent British tenors of yesteryear who were best suited to Mozart, Handel and Elgar rather than the Otello he has been singing. His voice is devoid of that Italianate quality that one might characterise as “full of the warm south”. “Celeste Aida” is very competently sung; he does not attempt the diminuendo on the concluding B flat that Verdi writes but few tenors do. He is unfortunately recorded far too close for the proper dramatic effect in the “Miserere” duet but the concluding duet from “Aida” is impressive. It is odd, however, that the mezzo-soprano who sings Amneris – presumably drawn from the Kaunas Choir – goes uncredited when the documentation here is otherwise so thorough.

Both artists are unsurprisingly at their best in terms of both vocalisation and drama in Tchaikovsky’s opera, where they sound most at ease with both the language and the musical line.

This a generous and gripping recital, most valuable for Alieva’s contribution and certainly of interest to anyone who wants to hear two rising operatic stars.
Ralph Moore

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