Majesty – Operatic Arias
Arias by Gluck, Mozart, Puccini, Massenet and Tchaikovsky
Maija Kovalevska (soprano); Liepaja Symphony Orchestra/Atvars Lakstīgala
Odradek ODRCD372 52:16 mins
Majesty is hardly a modest title for a debut recital disc. But after being crowned at the 2006 Operalia competition, the Latvian soprano Maija Kovalevska has been greatly admired at home and abroad. Hers is a big voice, and with her conductor Atvars Lakstīgala she has assembled a big programme that begins with Gluck and ends with Tatiana’s letter scene from Eugene Onegin. There’s Mozart too – a somewhat unsatisfying ‘Mi tradi …’ from Don Giovani in which Kovalevska rather ambushes the aria after a thoughtful reading of the recitative.
However, Puccini is the beating, throbbing heart of this recital. If Kovalevska’s Mimì in both ‘Mi chiamano Mimì’ and her Act III farewell to Rodolfo is a little too beefy for a woman marked for a young death, the arias from Gianni Schicchi and Turandot are well done, though she is clearly not one of nature’s Lius. There’s a slight rasp in the voice throughout which some may find appealing.
Less appealing is Kovaleska’s diction. There’s impenetrable French in ‘Dis moi que je suis belle’ from Massehet’s Thaïs, and you do wonder what language Gluck chose to set in Euridice’s aria ‘Che fiero momento’. Is it lèse-majesté to suggest that Maija Kovaleska needs to work on her language skills?