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Dolora Zajick - The Art of the Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano
Francesco Cilea, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Pietro Mascagni
Dolora Zajick - The Art of the Dramatic Mezzo-Soprano
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

Dolora Zajick is a real rarity--a true dramatic mezzo-soprano. Her voice, live and on disc, is huge and lush and absolutely even from the deepest chest tones all the way up to the high B natural. With a sound so ample, she...  more »

      
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Dolora Zajick is a real rarity--a true dramatic mezzo-soprano. Her voice, live and on disc, is huge and lush and absolutely even from the deepest chest tones all the way up to the high B natural. With a sound so ample, she's occasionally unsubtle, but on this recital CD, she sings Dalila's music with great gentleness and allure, while portraying Azucena (in Trovatore), Eboli (in Don Carlo) and the Princess (in Adriana Lecouvreur) with vigor, generous tone, and the correct rage. She also sings the Sleepwalking Scene from Verdi's Macbeth, rising to the high D-flat at its close softly--as Verdi wrote it and almost no soprano (let alone mezzo) can sing it. Zajick manages the coloratura from Arbace's aria in Rossini's Semiramide well enough, but it's clearly not her cup of tea. This is a thrilling recital; listening to it is like viewing a geyser--very, very impressive indeed. --Robert Levine
 

CD Reviews

A great mezzo, but somewhat inappropriate repertory
Joy Fleisig | New York, NY United States | 08/21/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"In a day and age when most of the best mezzos are lyric singers who excel in Mozart, Rossini, bel canto and Strauss, Dolora Zajick is a rarity, a truly old fashioned, huge-voiced, 'blood and guts' mezzo along the lines of Ebe Stignani, Giulietta Simionato, and Fedora Barbieri. Unlike some others, I think she has SOME competition, namely from Olga Borodina, and possibly at some point from Irina Mishura, Stephanie Blythe, and now unknown mezzos from the Kirov. For the moment, though, she has proven to be the finest mezzo of the age for Verdi, verismo, and other dramatic mezzo roles. It IS a shame that she has had to wait long to have her first solo disc, if nothing else, I would have thought that Sony might make a 'solo disc' for her from scenes culled for the complete recordings she did for them.Zajick's voice is a wonder -- huge, rich, and plummy, with real core and bite. In fact, it is so large that I'm not entirely sure it can be ideally captured on records. Her range is equally huge, from contralto depths to a soprano high D flat (pianissimo, yet), and she has superb technical control, as well as excellent command of Italian, Russian, and French. She isn't necessarily as subtle or as skilled in the nuances of vocal acting as these singers -- she usually deals in emotional generalities, not specifics. But she is geruinely thrilling and never goes beyond 'unsubtle' into 'vulgar'The probem is that the title of this disc is inappropriate for several reasons. First and foremost, a disc by a singer as exciting as Zajick is deserves a title less bland and prosaic, and, more importantly, quite a bit of what is sung here is more traditionally sung by a soprano. To make matters even more confusing, the British version of this disc is entitled 'The Dramatic SOPRANO' voice. Despite the fact that she sings the soprano selections quite well, I would have really preferred that Zajick concentrate on more traditional mezzo repertory. The 14 minutes taken up by Lady Macbeth's 2 arias (including orchestral prologue) could have fit 2 or 3 more suitable selections. I would have very much liked her to record 'O, mio Fernando'. Certainly there should have been more Verdi. Where is 'Stride la vampa'? Ulrica's great aria? The 'Liber Scriptus' from the Requiem? And something is VERY wrong with a having a Zajick disk without a hint of her glorious Amneris. Still, I imagine that she and the conductor wanted as wide a range of repertory as possible to serve as an 'introduction'. I probably would not object so much if I knew there would be more solo material from Zajick.The best selections, not surprisingly, are from Don Carlo and Il Trovatore -- magnificently sung and expressive of her characters' plights, although I would have preferred more introspection in the 'O mia regina' section of 'O don fatale'. She also does well in the verismo selections, giving Santuzza a girlish vulnerability surprising for a voice like this, and giving the Princesse de Bouillon tenderness as well as fury. It is also no surprise that a third place winner in the Tchaikovsky competition should do so well in Russian repertory. I think that her Dalila needs more languor to be ideal, and I am very surprised that she of all people does not take the high B flat ending on `Je t'aime!' Despite the fact that she has no desire to sing the role onstage, I would have liked to have heard something from Carmen as well.I am less excited about her forays into earlier repertory -- her renditions of Arbace's and Orfeo's arias are good, but not AS good as the other material on this disk or the aforementioned arias that I think she should have sung. And I think there are other singers, such as Vesselina Kasarova and Ewa Podles, who are more special in this particular repertory. No qualms, however, about her hair-raising rendition of 'Divinites du Styx'. I do think her Lady Macbeth is very promising, and might work in a small theatre -- I too am now skeptical of the negative reviews of her Berlin forays into the role. I just hope that she doesn't become another Grace Bumbry or Shirley Verrett, giving up being a great mezzo to become a not so great soprano.Charles Rosenkrans is a decent, supportive conductor, but he doesn't do anything especially noteworthy (no pun intended). I agree with the person who said that some of the tempi could have been taken a trifle faster. There are points where Rosenkrans takes the orchestra so loud that he almost drowns out even Zajick, and certainly overwhelms poor Piero Giuliacci, her Golitsyn and Manrico. I will reserve further judgement on Mr. Giuliacci until I hear him sing more than 3 lines. Also, excellent documentation with biographical information, notes, texts and translations -- although I should say the translations are rather loose.Despite my reservations, this is definitely a disc to buy, and I hope Zajick gives us many more solo recordings in the future -- song as well as operatic repertory. In the meantime, try to see her live or hear her on broadcasts to get her at her absolute best."
My favorite mezzo
GEORGE RANNIE | DENVER, COLORADO United States | 08/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I have been a fan of Dolora since her very early days. I really get tired of the unending lyric mezzos before the public today. Dolora is the real thing--she can sing the hell out of Amneris in Aida.
This recording is fantastic! I'm just glad she recorded it. I feel she is ignored by the recording industry--..."
Brava Zajick
marxnick02 | union city, nj United States | 07/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Things were pretty grim back in the mid 80s until a young American mezzo named Dolora Zajick hit the Met. This first recital disk, long overdue I might add, is exceptional. Here's the genuine article and very rare today. A true dramatic mezzo soprano with an incredible range and rich throughout all of its registers. All the arias are wonderfully sung on the disk. Destined to be one of the best selling disks of this year and deserves far more praise than I can lavish upon it. Order this disk today."