Siurina beloved DE3602

Where Is My Beloved?
Ekaterina Siurina (soprano)
Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian
rec. 2022, Kaunas Philharmonic, Lithuania
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
Reviewed as download from press preview
Delos DE3602 [53]

Ekaterina Siurina’s debut album Amour éternel, issued three years ago, was very positively reviewed here at MusicWeb by my colleague Michael Cookson and me (review ~ review), and the follow up was eagerly anticipated. “[She] has a beautiful voice, sings with good legato, is careful with nuances and her top rings out with brilliance”, I wrote in that review. Already, after the beautifully played prelude, the first few phrases of Rusalka’s Song to the Moon told me that the description above was still valid and that I was in for a vocal feast: a tender-hearted and warm opening, and when the big melody comes her voice rings out with all the brilliance needed. The three Puccini heroines shouldn’t be suitable for a singer who started her career as Gilda in Rigoletto, but that was more than twenty years ago, and her voice has filled out in volume and roundness. Today, she is a fully-fledged lirico-spinto in the Tebaldi mould, while retaining her youthful timbre, and thus ideal for teenagers like Manon Lescaut and Madama Butterfly. It is a pleasure to hear her nuanced readings of In quelle trine morbide and Un bel di, vedremo. Both are heart-felt and vulnerable; even more so is Butterfly’s dramatic outbreak Tu? Tu? Piccolo iddio!, her farewell to her child before she kills herself. This is a moment in the opera house when it is difficult not to shed tears, but Siurina sings it here with such insight that the tears come gushing –  even though I am only hearing her. Sister Angelica’s lamentation Senza Mamma is also heart-felt and nuanced. 

All these arias are, of course, well-known and oft-recorded, but Siurina’s singing is of a calibre that can stand comparison with the best of her predecessors. So is also Adriana Lecouvreur’s Io son l’umile ancella – a lovely reading indeed. The opera isn’t too often played but this aria is frequently heard in recital programmes. This is also the case with Margherita’s aria from Boito’s Mefistofele, a deeply emotional outbreak of the poor peasant girl who is about to be executed. Siurina delivers the trill with disarming simplicity. One of the real highlights in this recital is Amelia’s aria from Simon Boccanegra, both for the lovely playing of the atmospheric orchestral prelude and the glorious singing. 

She rounds off the disc with two Tchaikovsky arias, and singing in her mother-tongue, Siurina is certainly in her element. Iolanta’s arioso is the only relative rarity, and she sings it beautifully, but the real winner is Tatiana’s Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin. This is another teenager role, and once again Siurina finds the right tone of innocence and youthful vulnerability. The combination of insight and vocal excellence makes this a reading that challenges even the best in a stiff competition. 

An important ingredient in this winning recipe is the superb playing of the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra under their chief conductor for ten years, Constantine Orbelian. (Kaunas, with just over 300 000 inhabitants, is the next-largest city in Lithuania after Vilnius and the fourth largest city in the Baltic States.) Orbelian has honed them to a first-class ensemble that can compete with the best orchestras in the Nordic and Baltic regions. During the last few years, they have made a valuable contribution to the many excellent recordings in the Delos catalogue, and Orbelian has an exceptional rapport with singers. 

In a world where really great voices are in short supply, it is a privilege indeed to listen to Ekaterina Siurina, now in her late forties, her voice in mint condition, with perfectly controlled vibrato and a glowing delivery. My only misgiving is that the playing time here is a bit meagre. Another couple of arias wouldn’t have come amiss, but the 52:52 minutes that are here are worth every pound. A suggestion: treat yourself to this excellent disc; a better recital might not come this year.

Göran Forsling

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1. Antonin Dvořák: Rusalka
“Mesicku na nebi hlubokén” (6:34)
2. Giacomo Puccini: Manon Lescaut
“In quelle trine morbide” (2:41)
3. Giacomo Puccini: Suor Angelica
“Senza Mamma” (4:41)
4. Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly
“Un bel dì, vedremo” (4:44)
5. Giacomo Puccini: Madama Butterfly
“Tu? Tu? Piccolo iddio!” (2:36)
6. Francesco Cilea: Adriana Lecouvreur
“Io son l’umile ancella” (3:49)
7. Arrigo Boito: Mefistofele
“L’altra notte in fondo al mare” (5:00)
8. Giuseppe Verdi: Simon Boccanegra
“Come in quest’ora” (5:55)
9. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Iolanta
“Iolanta’s Arioso” (2:53)
10. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin
“Tatiana’s Letter Scene” (13:57)