The Aleksandra technique
CD CHOICE: ALEKSANDRA KURZAK: GIOIA! / Orquestra de la Communitat Valenciana. Conductor: Omer Meir WellberDecca Classics 478 2730 *****
Over the past two years Aleksandra Kurzak has sung to critical and public acclaim at major opera houses in Europe and the US. Her performances as Lucia at the Seattle Opera in 2010, and as Rosina in The Barber of Seville at Covent Garden last year, were both highly successful.
Kurzak began her musical studies in her home town of Wroclaw, Poland, following which she won a travel and study grant from the Crescendum Est-Polonia foundation. This grant enabled her to spend four years on a scholarship in Hamburg at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, and as a member of the young artists programme of the Hamburg State Opera. Here she developed her voice and technique, supported by singing a number of lighter lyric/coloratura roles.
This period of steady development shows now in both her voice quality and technique, which appear to be well grounded. In this recital, she tackles the coloratura/bel canto repertoire, and the result is something special. Just to mention two of the several fine performances here: her technique in E Strano from La Traviata is rock solid, and she supplies the appropriate dreamy quality in her singing of Caro Nome from Rigoletto.
An interesting inclusion is the heroine’s main aria from Straszny Dwor (by Moniuszko), which is often referred to as the Polish national opera; this Kurzak sings with style and fervour.
On the evidence here she has a distinctive vocal signature coupled with phenomenal technique, solid phrasing and a sensitive awareness of characterisation. However, when making predictions on the basis of a recording, one must accept that only a live performance can allow one to judge the size of a voice or the singer’s stage presence.
Subject to that proviso – and provided she doesn’t force her voice by singing heavier roles too soon in the next few years – there should be great things in store for this very gifted young singer.