Concerto Sacro Vocale

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Cardiff International Academy of Voice in barga 2009014A concert of music by Handel, Mozart, Vivaldi and Bach was held this evening in Annunziata church in Barga Vecchia – the second concert this week organised by the  Cardiff International Academy of Voice (first concert is here)

Singing this evening were; Mary-Jean O’Doherty, Clair Egan, Catrin Aur Davies, Ione Cumming, Renee Martin, Noel Hernandez, Carlos Osuna, Rhys Jenkins, Philip Rhodes, Bulelani Madikizela, Hyun Tae Kim, Julia Lezhneva, Sally He Li, Courtney Mills. The pianists were Jane Samuel and Sharon Richards .

Now into their second concert in Barga this year and something has to be said straight away – it is now so very obvious to all and sundry that these singers do not deserve to be called “students”  They are singers who are just about to be launched into their chosen careers. All fourteen are of an extremely high standard of professionalism and skill.

It is not often that one name is singled out but really one voice stands out head and shoulders, even taking into account her diminutive stature, above the rest. That is the nineteen year old Russian soprano, Julia Lezhneva.  Write that name in your diaries folks … “Julia Lezhneva”

The Russian soprano, Julia Lezhneva, was born into a family of geophysicists. She began playing the piano and singing at the age of five. In 2004 she graduated with distinction from the Gretchaninov Music School; between the ages of 14 and 18 she continued her vocal and piano studies at the Tchaikovsky Moscow State Conservatory. In 2008 she received an honours degree for her vocal studies and a diploma for piano. In September 2008 she began studying with the tenor Dennis O’Neill at the Cardiff International Academy of Voice. She has attended master-classes with Elena Obraztsova in St Petersburg in 2007, and with Alberto Zedda at the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro in 2008.

Spotted in the audience this evening and obviously enjoying the evening was the conductor of the Ensemble Modo Antiquo – Federico Maria Sardelli. Asked what had brought him to Barga this evening he replied that he had come to hear the voice of Julia Lezhneva. As her repertoire includes works by Antonio Vivaldi, maybe Federico is thinking of a future Vivaldi collaboration between the two?

Federico Maria Sardelli is a member of the musicological committee of the Istituto Italiano Antonio Vivaldi and has been a notable protagonist in the Vivaldi renaissance of the past few years: he conducted the world premiere recording and performance of the operas Arsilda Regina di Ponto, Orlando Furioso, Tito Manlio, Motezuma, and Atenaide.


Julia Lezhneva


Courtney Mills

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The remarkable thing about Dennis O’Neill’s students is the high technical standard at which all of them, without exception, sing. Tutti bravi indeed. For anyone who attended the first two Barga performances of the Cardiff Adademy this year, it was no surprise to see Maestro Sardelli in the audience — and even less surprising to note his rapt attention when Julia Lezhneva performed. Her voice has the range and heart-stopping tonal purity that are achieved by only a handful of each generation’s opera singers. When you are famous, Ms. Lezhneva, as you almost certainly will be in short order, we… Read more »