“From time to time a really outstanding talent appears and I believe that Julia Lezhneva is just that. The brilliance of her voice and technique are extremely impressive.” said legendary NZ soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa of this talented young Russian born singer.
Leo Schofield, Artistic Director for Hobart Baroque agrees. He believes coloratura soprano Julia Lezhneva, who emerged from Sakhalin Island in the Russian far east to become a rising star in the classical music community, will become a shining star during the next decade.
“She will allow our Australian contemporary audience to know”, and understand, just “how legendary soprano Joan Sutherland sounded when she was young” he said… “and thrilled her admirers all around the world”.
At age 18, Julia Lezhneva appeared on stage with the influential French conductor Marc Minkowski to sing Bach’s Mass in B minor. Since then she has performed and recorded with a variety of world-renowned orchestras and singers, having signed with one of the biggest labels in classical music: Decca Records in 2012.
Julia Lezhneva was the first Russian singer to become an exclusive artist for the label and she put that down to all the famous and influential people who she has had master classes with, including NZ’s Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
Hobart Baroque is a unique and specialized early music focused festival due to take Tasmania, and indeed Australia by storm, from the 28th March to the 5th April, 2014.
Julia Lezhneva came to international attention when, at just seventeen years of age, she won the Grand Prix at the 6th Elena Obraztsova International Competition for Opera Singers in St Petersburg.
Since then she has gone from strength to strength, won many awards and has performed with such luminaries of the opera world as tenor Bryn Terfel.
Throughout its history of development the form of music now known as opera has offered singers the greatest of challenges.
The sacred world became a stepping stone for the secular world as it began establishing new modes and traditions in performance art.
From its arrival as an aspect of a ‘cerebral salon experiment’ starring the ‘Florentine Camerata’, Baroque music became a spectacular entertainment genre.
Many of the compositions are full of runs, trills and exquisite melodies that allow the singer to master the most difficult technical skills and jump mountainous and sometimes monumental musical hurdles.
Logic, so important and inherent in the structure and sound of Baroque music, dictated the most important roles be cast with the most brilliant of singers, especially those who could magically intensify their sound and send their voices on a wide ranging musical thrill ride.
Female coloratura sopranos and male castrati singers filled this bill perfectly. In the process they became virtuosic vocalists.
Julia Lezhneva believes representing the ‘different colours of the voice’ is especially important for a young singer. Today she is still only 23 and in terms of an opera career, that is still very young.
Singing on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in a gala concert in 2010 to great acclamation, meant that Lezhneva would go onto greater things. Her impetuous virtuosity knew no boundaries and she made audiences gasp with delight.
In 2013 she won the coveted ECHO Klassic Award, showing regard for excellence in recorded and concert performance.
Well known composers such as Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Fredirich Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Nicolas Porpora all used thrill techniques in their music, especially in the sacred idiom, because they were trying to move and leave congregations awe struck.
The secular Baroque world simply expanded these thoughts, indulging in all sorts of vocal fireworks.
Mozart’s incredible Exsultate jubilate still today leaves most listeners speechless from pure joy when they hear it. Julia sang it on her debut Decca Classics Album “Alleluia”, because having sung it from a very early age it had a special meaning for her, an old favourite that is all about the ‘colours of the instrument’.
Lezhneva knows that she is in that phase where she must manage her choice of engagements and nurse her singing voice with great intelligence, mastery and care, so that she will enjoy a long lasting and illustrious career.
On stage she will supported by the acclaimed Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. With her renowned feel for the music and style, Julia Lezhneva is due to rise to lofty heights.
She will be sending her voice renowned for its ‘silver-bell purity’, resonating off the splendid architectural space of the Federation Hall Stage, Hobart on Sunday 30 March.
She will no doubt be nurturing her own heart through the music she is so passionate about as she mesmorizes everyone else. It is sure to be a happy ever after story and occasion, set to glorious Baroque music, which is all at once delicate, poetic and decorative.
Julia Lezhneva will undoubtedly charm, entertain, and move, but without tears and violent passions, the depths of everyone’s spirit and soul.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2014
Watch the Video of Julia Lezhneva singing Mozart’s ‘Exsultate jubilate’