(né/née en 1989)
Julia Lezhneva is a Russian soprano noted for her coloratura singing. A graduate of the Gretchaninov Music School in 2004 and of the Moscow Conservatory in 2008, she received honors in voice and piano. She went on to study with Dennis O'Neill at the Cardiff International Academy of Voice, and attended master classes led by Richard Bonynge, Carlo Rizzi, John Fisher, Kiri Te Kanawa, Ileana Cotrubas, and Rebecca Evans. She has also participated in master classes with Elena Obratsovain, Alberto Zedda, and Thomas Quasthoff. Lezhneva has given performances in Russia and across Europe, as well as in Japan, and she gave her first performance at the 2010 Mozart Festival in Salzburg, performing the Great Mass in C minor with conductor Marc Minkowski. She has appeared with other conductors, including Giovanni Antonini, Alberto Zedda, Franz Welser-Möst, René Jacobs, and Fabio Biondi,and shared the stage with Plácido Domingo, Kiri Te Kanawa, Anna Netrebko, Renée Fleming, Natalie Dessay, Nathalie Stutzmann, among many others. Lezhneva's operatic roles include Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Urbain in Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, and Asteria in Handel’s Tamerlano. She also has given recitals, singing art songs by Fauré, Berlioz, Debussy, Boulanger, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninov. Since 2011, Lezhneva has recorded on the Naïve label.
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Classical - Released April 14, 2017 | Decca
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica
Carl Heinrich Graun was one of the most prolific German composers of Italian operas in the mid-18th century, though his numerous works have fallen into obscurity and are only coming to light because of research and performances by early music interpreters. This 2017 Decca release features soprano Julia Lezhneva and Concerto Köln, conducted by Mikhail Antonenko, in world-premiere recordings of arias from Graun's operas L'Orfeo, Ifigenia in Aulide, Coriolano, Armida, Il Mithridate, Silla, and Britannico, and a sinfonia from Rodelinda. True to form, Concerto Köln offers the fresh, resonant sonorities of period instruments, and Antonenko's direction brings great spirit to the performances. But the star of this album is Lezhneva, a specialist in coloratura parts and a strong champion of 18th and early 19th century opera. Her bright, heavily ornamented style of singing brings great excitement to these showpieces, and she demonstrates a technical virtuosity that evokes the age of Farinelli. Lezhneva's successes in the operas of Handel should translate into a revival of Graun's music, and listeners who have developed a taste for Baroque singing will find her sparkling performances captivating. Decca's sound is sufficiently clear and detailed, though Lezhneva should have been given more prominence in the mix.
Classical - Released September 1, 2015 | Decca
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The athletic Italian- (and Latin-) language arias of the young Handel, almost unknown to general audiences a few decades ago, have become almost a rite of passage for young sopranos, so it's no surprise to see the highly praised soprano Julia Lezhneva come along with a collection of them for her second solo album. It's an attractive set showing that Lezhneva knows how to play to her strengths. There are just enough of the big showpieces to prove that she can acquit herself fine in them (and indeed she has done the likes of Vivaldi very well in the past), but the majority of the program is devoted to displaying her rather uncanny silvery sound. Prepare for held high notes that seem to take on an almost mechanical quality as they're extended with perfectly consistent tone beyond what seems physically possible. Lezhneva does well to include the limpid Salve Regina, HWV 241, as well as several numbers from the little allegorical oratorio Il trionfo del tempo e del disanganno, HWV 46a, which has several reflective numbers including the familiar "Lascia la spina" (track three), an irresistible tune recycled by Handel later on. Sample that or the final numbers from the same oratorio (tracks 14-15), which are gorgeous. The venerable Il Giardino Armonico matches Lezhneva step for step, and there are several numbers in which instrumental soloists engage in difficult duets with her. An above-average Handel recital that serves further notice of a major new talent.
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