Olga Peretyatko to Release ARABESQUE, 2/18

Olga Peretyatko to Release ARABESQUE, 2/18

On February 18, Sony Classical (USA) will release Arabesque, soprano Olga Peretyatko's second album on the label. Her new CD coincides with a 2013-14 season that not only showcases the young star in important European debuts-including Berlin and Milan-it also offers an opportunity to hear her eagerly anticipated Metropolitan Opera debut when she returns to New York in the spring. Olga Peretyatko's MET debut in I Puritani this coming April follows her acclaimed 2011 BAM appearances in Robert Lepage's production of The Nightingale, which the Financial Times cited as soaring "with effortless charm as the coloratura Nightingale." Bloomberg News noted that she was "greeted with a thunderous ovation," and The New York Times called her "sweet-voiced and technically agile." Ms Peretyatko possesses a dazzling technique, a touching sensibility, a vocal richness, and a strong personality that the new recording highlights brilliantly.

A simple look at the contents of Olga Peretyatko's new CD recital, Arabesque, is bound to delight. It is a cherishably old-fashioned program of mostly nineteenth-century showpieces?the three exceptions are eighteenth-century Mozart-and not one of them would have seemed out of place at a command performance for Queen Victoria or another illustrious ruler of pre-1900 Europe. But there's nothing musty or antiquated about this very modern young prima donna, who seems to have it all, exuding an easy glamour, a charismatic personality and a voice that already has surprised and conquered audiences around the world.

While her CD's contents and her striking good looks both elicit a happy smile, Olga Peretyatko's singing can broaden it into an even happier fixed grin. The bewitching young Russian-born, German-trained, and Italian-adopted soprano shows herself as adeptly multicultural as the composer of the first three selections on her program, Mozart. Opening with a virtuosic concert aria ("Ah, se in ciel, benigne stelle"), she displays not just her arrestingly beautiful tone but her fast, even, cleanly articulated runs. And in Donna Anna's "Non mi dir" from Don Giovanni and Susanna's "Deh vieni, non tardar" from Le nozze di Figaro, she illustrates the vocal curlicues of her album's title with, in the first, an elegant bridge between verses and, in the second, a cadenza at "incoronar" that indeed deliciously crowns this beloved piece and makes it seem once again as fresh as the sweetly sighing night breeze she's evoking in song.

Arabesque's next three selections offer both a glimpse of her bel canto past and a preview of her bel canto future. Since her first appearance there, in 2006, Olga Peretyatko has become a beloved adornment of the annual Rossini Festival in Pesaro, Italy (where in 2010 she met her husband-to-be, the dynamic conductor Michele Mariotti). Here she offers a piece at once novel and familiar: an elaborate scena from Rossini's little-performed cantataLe nozze di Teti e di Peleo-the last section of which is better known from an earlier appearance as a tenor solo in The Barber of Seville and even more so in its later guise as the mezzo-soprano's literally show-stopping (it ends the opera) "Non più mesta" in La Cenerentola. Following that, there's an enticing double preview of an upcoming milestone in the singer's career: her Metropolitan Opera debut in April 2014, as Elvira in Bellini's I Puritani. The high-spirited "Son vergin vezzosa" offers more stunning, dizzying vocal arabesques, while the ensuing "Qui la voce" finds poor Elvira quite beside herself with grief in one of those operatic "mad scenes" so beloved of coloratura sopranos and opera lovers alike. Olga Peretyatko's Met Puritani caps a season of important debuts: she made her first appearances at Arena di Verona, Staatsoper in Berlin, Zurich Opera House, and will make her debut at Milan's fabled La Scala.

Olga Peretyatko transitions smoothly from Italian repertory to French with the "Bolero" from Verdi's I vespri siciliani, a five-act "grand opera" first written in French to suit Parisian tastes, but most often performed in Italian, as she does here. On its rhythmic heels come two more danceable numbers, this time fully French: a waltz from Gounod's Mireilleand another bolero, this one from Bizet's Vasco da Gama-a reminder of her triumphs in Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Lyon, and Lille. Two beloved virtuoso salon pieces follow-Eva dell'Acqua's "Villanelle" and Luigi Arditi's "Il bacio".

The album's last "official" selection is a souvenir of a role she sang a few years back, Adele in Johann Strauss's Die Fledermaus, her so-called "audition aria," in which the stage-struck chambermaid demonstrates her theatrical chops. With Olga Peretyatko singing, she'd surely have gotten a contract-if the supposed impresario she sings for weren't in fact the warden of a jail. The album also includes a bonus track, and there couldn't be one more apt than Alexander Alabieff's, "The Nightingale." For many music lovers-in Toronto, Amsterdam, Aix, and in New York City-our first taste of Ms Peretyatko was savored when she sang the title role in Stravinsky's opera of the same name, in the magically memorable production by Robert Lepage. The moral of the Hans Christian Andersen tale on which it's based is that a mechanical nightingale, no matter how initially entrancing, can't take the place of the real, animate, flesh-and-blood bird. It's a lesson that Olga Peretyatko either grasped instinctively or has learned very well. Arabesque presents not just a voice and technique-impressive as those are on their own-but the deep heart and soul that propel them.


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