January 22, 2009 - The Russian Fairy Tale Operas at the Austrian Embassy, Washington, DC

Pianist Artur Aksenov… possesses an extraordinary technique and virtuosity. He wowed the audience with a rousing rendition of Mussorgsky’s Baba Yaga and the terrifying Flight of the Bumblebee in the outrageous arrangement by Rachmaninoff.

Soprano Irina Mozyleva recently made her San Francisco Opera debut as Rosina in John Copley’s production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Her voice has a very sweet timbre and she keeps that beautifully rounded tone from top to bottom. Unusually expressive in her phrasing, she has a most fascinating way of delivering cadenzas as dramatic extensions of the music rather than flashy ornamentations…

Polish mezzo-soprano Magdalena Wor is one of the most active artists on the stages of Washington, D.C. A member of the Plácido Domingo-Cafritz young artist program at the Washington National Opera, she has been featured prominently in many productions of recent seasons… Her voice is perfectly blended and she uses it with great efficacy...

Baritone Anton Belov has that unmistakably Russian sound. He is tall and displays an aristocratic and proud bearing. …He also has thrillingly secure and brilliant high notes, which he uses with great aplomb.

The young Russian basso Grigory Soloviov is a truly impressive young artist, both in voice and stature. He will be making his Metropolitan Opera debut next season. Keep your eyes out for this gentleman. He has all the makings of the next Ghiaurov or Nesterenko… Mr. Soloviov is the winner of the Rising Star prize at the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow…Everything he sings is commanding and possessed of authority. Also a member of the Domingo-Cafritz young artist program, he is featured this season in La Traviata as Marchese D’Obigny and as Gazella in Lucrezia Borgia. He immediately brought down the house with his exciting delivery of King René’s aria from Iolanta.……

Violinist Emil Chudnovsky, twice a laureate of the “Premio Paganini”, first place winner at the Curci International Violin Competition in Naples, a winner at the Szeryng and Enescu International Competitions, set the hall ablaze with an hypnotic and breathtaking performance of Efrem Zimbalist’s transcription of themes from The Golden Cockerel….

The brain behind the RCAS, the one who designs the programs and engages the artists is the remarkable Vera Danchenko-Stern. A woman of impeccable taste, talent, and capability, she also served as piano accompanist to the singers. She is a wizard at the piano, shaping each phrase to fit each singer’s voice like a hand-sewn glove.

A member of the distinguished faculty at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland, her knowledge of the Russian style is encyclopedic. Ms. Danchenko-Stern delivered her accompaniments as if she were leading an entire orchestra, bringing out a myriad of instrumental sonorities.

www.concertonet.com, Micaele Sparacino

The Russian Chamber Art Society brilliantly presented “Russian Fairy Tale Operas” as produced and directed by Vera Danchenko-Stern.

There was a superb pianist – Artur Aksenov - and excellent violinist – Emil Chudnovsky - and four exceptional singers who made the evening sparkle from beginning to end …

Mezzo-soprano Magdalena Wor had great stage presence with a legato that moved quickly across the scales, and her acting was sublime.

Baritone Anton Belov managed a sure dramatic baritone. Bass Grigory Soloviov had a sublimely intense voice, which leapt confidently into his lowest range.

Soprano Irina Mozyleva melted with tragic acceptance as she sang arias of true and unrequited love.

www.concertarts.com,  Stephen N. Dennis