The late Dimitri Hvorostovsky was right when he said: “What a gorgeous voice – like a Rolls Royce, she must sing in the best theaters in the world!” I agree. She has been making the rounds of the big houses in Russia, the mid-sized opera houses elsewhere in Europe and is now – her website informs us – about to make some important debuts.

What will she be singing? Donna Elvira. No problem. Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera? Maybe… Aida? Well, that’s a stretch, but it depends on the size of the house. Turandot? Oh no, not yet!

She has been moving quickly up the ranks, and now in RITORNA VINCITOR, Veronika Dzhioeva’s CD for DELOS she sings Verdi, Puccini, Cilea and Giordano in the kind of calling-card sampler recital that has become part of the rite of passage of many an opera singer.

The potential problem here is symptomatic of many a career of big-voiced, temperamental sopranos. The beautiful, big voiced, intensely dramatic Georgian soprano Veronika Dzhioeva is spectacularly gifted: vocally impressive, the possessor of a creamy soprano that comfortably ascends to the treacherous high C of O patria mia, landing it with a lyrical approach. She pulls off the same feat on invan la pace at the end of Leonora’s aria from La forza del destino.

She is intensely musical, insightful with the lyrics. When she comfortably pours the voice out and marries sound to text and then injects emotion into the task at hand she is spectacular. Cases in point: an achingly beautiful Senza mamma from Suor Angelica, a very lovely Un bel di, an A+ Io sono l’umile ancella… Her Vissi d’arte, gets a perfect diminishing messa di voce at the end.

But then there are rough patches. When she opens up to full throttle above the staff, as in Vieni t’affrettaPace, paceMa dall’arido stelo divulsa… her top range takes on a metallic quality foreign to what most of us have come to expect from a true Italianate Spinto soprano, and occasionally her fast vibrato can get out of control on forte climactic moments at the top of her range. The size of her voice is not an issue, but when it comes to soaring over the orchestra in a Verdian climax, more squillo and not just sheer power would come in handy.

I am concerned for this lovely singer, who would do so well at an international level staying away from the Lady Macbeths and the Aidas and the Forza Leonora and the heavier Verismo ladies. Why not focus instead on the big Mozartian roles and the Puccini canon. Oh, and then there’s that vast Russian repertory to which she could rightfully lay claims.

Constantine Orbelian leads the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra with idiomatic flair and ever sensitive to the task of accompanying the singer. Nicely produced, engineered and mastered, the album is a nice addition to the must-have lists of Opera devotees.

Rafael de Acha       http://www.RafaelMusicNotes.com