Julia Lezhneva and Sinfonietta Rīga at the International Early Music Festival
Among the most intriguing events of this year’s International Early Music Festival in Riga was the performance of Julia Lezhneva, the owner of an astonishingly luminous vocal and the bright sun of Baroque music. On Friday, 13 July at 8 p.m. the celebrated singer performed a program of Vivaldi and Handel’s opera arias in the Great Guild Hall together with chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga. The concert included arias from George Frideric Handel’s and Antonio Vivaldi’s operas, as well as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s evergreen motet Exsultate, jubilate. The conductor’s baton was entrusted to a master of Baroque repertoire – the charismatic violinist, countertenor and conductor Dmitry Sinkovsky.
Julia Lezhneva has duly earned her reputation as the leading Baroque singer of her generation. Despite her young years, the soprano has been described as bewitching and praised for her “voice of angelic beauty” (The New York Times), “pure tone” (Opernwelt), “flawless technique” and “unforgettable spiritual expression and perfect artistry” (The Guardian). The exceptional talent of Julia Lezhneva captivates everyone from the reviewers of the world’s leading newspapers and music critics to musicologists and vocal experts to, of course, the public.
Her talent and career has been solidly rooted directly in the musical tradition of European Baroque and Classicism. Reminiscing about the recordings of the queen of Baroque Cecilia Bartoli she heard in her early youth, Lezhneva says: “It left a great impression on me – I had never heard Baroque coloraturas before! At the same time I realized that my voice is not really suited to Russian repertoire, however I could sing Baroque effortlessly.”
On 13 July in the Great Guild Hall, together with chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Rīga and conducted by Dmitry Sinkovsky, Julia Lezhneva performed a number of opera arias by Antonio Vivaldi and George Frideric Handel, including Griselda’s aria La Griselda Agitata da due venti from Antonio Vivaldi’s opera Griselda, Hippolyte’s aria Ercole Zeffiretti, che sussurrate from Antonio Vivaldi’s opera Ercole su'l Termodonte, and Rossane’s recitative Solitudine amate and two arias – Aure, fonti, ombre gradite and Brilla nell’ alma from George Frideric Handel’s opera Alessandro. The voice of Julia Lezhneva shone brightly also in the great Austrian classicist Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s joyful, uplifting motet Exsultate, jubilate.
The gifted violinist, conductor and countertenor Dmitry Sinkovsky, who is an expert in Baroque music, played a special part in the concert, leading Sinfonietta Rīga musicians in their performance of Johann Adolph Hasse’s Fuga e grave in G minor; he made his own violin sing out in Antonio Vivaldi’s violin sonata Per Pisendel, dedicated to the German musician once famous across the Europe – the leader of the Dresden Court Orchestra, Johann Georg Pisendel, and once again in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major.