In questa reggia is the title of a new album of warhorse arias by Puccini and Verdi featuring soprano Oksana Dyka. In the nicely packaged and cleanly engineered Delos release, Constantine Orbelian perfectly paces the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra.

Throughout 68 minutes of playing time the Ukrainian soprano fearlessly takes on the vocal minefields of Verdi’s Macbeth and Nabucco, and Puccini’s Turandot with a fair degree of success, knocking out high B flats and C’s like nobody’s business. But soon a numbing sameness sets in.

In the case of the selections from Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Madame Butterfly, and Tosca, and those from Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera and La forza del destino, in which the payoff comes not exclusively from high decibel singing but from subtler matters – phrasing and a variety of dynamics – Ms. Dyka’s acidly Slavic timbre and relentlessly full-out singing does not serve the music well.

In a perfect world, a calling card album of this nature would have included more rarities: Verdi’s Giovanna d’ Arco, Alzira, and Attila come to mind. How about one of Minnie’s ariosos from La fanciulla del West or O fior del giorno from Puccini’s Edgar?

Oksana Dyka is still, in her mid-forties, an artist of immense promise. She should be encouraged to explore the inexhaustible repertoires of the Verdi and Puccini lyric-spinto and dramatic soprano: a pursuit that will unearth for her some rewarding musical treasures.

Rafael de Acha                  ALL ABOUT THE ARTS