Journey into the World of the Baroque


In recent years the Bolshoi Theatre has persistently pursued a policy of broadening its repertoire and mastering new forms of activity. However, the Festival of Baroque Music due to take place this season, is a first step in a new direction: the Bolshoi has virtually no experience in this field.

The Festival program offers its audiences the opportunity of undertaking a musical journey to the main cultural centres of European Baroque — Italy, France, Germany and England. In addition to the music of the acclaimed Baroque masters (Vivaldi, Corelli, Handel, Rameau), they will also hear works by composers who are less famous — or indeed totally unknown to Russian audiences (Carl Graun, Adolph Hasse, Georg Philipp Telemann, Andrea Falconieri, Antonio Cesti, Giovanni Buononcini, Riccardo Broschi, Antonio Sartorio, Alessandro Scarlatti)

Taking part in the Festival will be Russian and foreign musicians, recognized interpreters of baroque music: Les Arts Florissants (France), one of the oldest baroque ensembles in Europe, which will present productions? to the music of Rameau; the Russian chamber ensembles Questa musica (artistic director Philippe Chizhevsky) and La voce strumentale (conductor and soloist Dmitri Sinkovsky); soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre Young Artists Program and the Abkhazian singer, winner of international competitions, Christina Eshba. The Festival will be opened by the young Russian singer and international star of the baroque, Julia Lezhneva.

“One gasps at the upwards flight of her career as at her amazing Mozartian soprano voice”, the Trud newspaper music critic wrote. 16-year-old Julia Lezhneva made her debut at the Big Hall of the Moscow Conservatoire, singing the soprano part in Mozart’s Requiem; while still a student at the Conservatoire Academic Music College, she won the Grand-prix at two international Elena Obraztsova competitions (and was later awarded the Triumph independent prize). On completing her musical education in Cardiff (Great Britain), the singer embarked on an international career with indisputable triumphs in Helsinki (2009) and in Paris (2010) and today she appears at the world’s leading opera, concert and festival venues.

“This is premium quality singing: Lezhneva’s tone is equal throughout, completely technically in control of some fiercely difficult writing, but most importantly she sings without any artifice — her communicative ability shines through every number”, is how an English music critic assessed Julia Lezhneva’s last solo disc Alleluia (2013) issued by DECCA which received several prestigious prizes (the singer’s first disc of Rossini arias, issued in 2011, got equally rapturous praise).

Julia Lezhneva’s partners include leading singers of our times (Placido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Kiri Te Kanawa, Juan Diego Flores, Renée Fleming, Philippe Jaroussky); she takes part in the concerts of chamber ensembles considered to be leading authorities in the field of authentic performance (Les Musiciens du Louvre conducted by Marc Minkowski and Il Giardino Armonico conducted by Giovanni Antonioni); she appears with the following conductors John Eliot Gardiner, Franz Welser-Möst, Philippe Herreweghe, Roger Norrington, René Jacobs, Vladimir Spivakov, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Alexander Rudin. In recent years Julia Lezhneva has added extensively to her repertoire and perfected her vocal skills. “She is no longer a promising child prodigy, but ... a vocalist and musician of whose Russian name Russian music lovers are deservedly proud”; “not content with its previous achievements, the singer’s art has become even more perfect and inspired!”, wrote reviewers after recent performances in Moscow.

On 7 October at the Bolshoi Theatre New Stage, Julia Lezhneva will sing arias by Handel and Carl Graun, accompanied by the La voce strumentale Ensemble which specializes in the performance of baroque music and has already appeared at the Theatre’s Beethoven Hall. Its leader — the violinist, singer, conductor and international prize-winner Dmitri Sinkovsky — also participates as soloist in concerts of music by Corelli, Vivaldi and Telemann. Taking part in the Bolshoi Theatre concert will be lutenist Luca Pianca (Italy), a pioneer of European authentic music performance and one of the founders of the famous Il Giardino Armonico Ensemble.