Russian soprano Venera Gimadieva sings Russian and French opera, but the sweet spot for her light coloratura is the bel canto repertory of early 19th century Italy. On her debut album, self-issued but distributed by the Rubicon label, she sticks with arias by Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini. Gimadieva's operatic appearances have been critical hits on both sides of the Atlantic (and both sides of the former Iron Curtain), and it's easy to see why. Specialist opera critics tend to be notorious fault-finders, picking through a singer's armor in hopes of finding the weak spot; Gimadieva is the kind of singer that makes them roll over and put their paws in the air, for she really doesn't have one. You might wish for a bit more oomph in her lower register, but otherwise everything is in place: easy scale work, precise pitch control, and a blazing top that doesn't falter. She has obviously studied the bel canto heroines well and sung most of these roles often, and you can sample "Regnava nel silenzio," from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor for a taste of her confidence. Momento Immobile gives you sizable chunks of music, and even in the 20-minute excerpt from Rossini's Otello her energy does not flag. One might also observe that there's a certain sameness to the program, with a rather low-energy presence by the Hallé Orchestra under Gianluca Marcianò. The idea seems to have been an examination of the nature of these pieces as parts of the history of the representation of women, buttressed by a feminist-oriented essay in the CD booklet by Claire Seymour. But it's not clear what Gimadieva's contribution is to that idea, nor how the album artwork involving cutoff ripped jeans and halter tops fits in with it. It is likely, however, that the composers here would have enjoyed the Gimadieva's pure vocalism, and one looks to future releases featuring the music of Verdi, in which she is also developing a specialty.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|I Capuleti e i Montecchi|
|Linda di Chamounix|
|L' elisir d'amore|
|Lucia di Lammermoor|