Alexandra DURSENEVA (mezzo-soprano)
Alexandra Durseneva possesses a deep and expressive voice with a great range. These qualitie, as well as the timber of her voise, allow her to appear in a variety of contralto and mezzo soprano roles ranging from Ratmir in "Ruslan and Ludmila" by Glinka up to Arzace in "Semiramide" by Rossini. Alexandra brilliantly uses her artistic qualities appearing in strongly comic parts such as Mrs. Quickly in "Falstaff" by Verdi and also performing lyric and dramatic roles such as Marfa in "Khovanschina" by Mussorgsky or Liubasha in "The Tsar's Bride" by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Born in Kharkov into a family of an opera singer, Alexandra Durseneva graduated from the Kharkov Institute of Arts in 1991 and became a soloist with the Kharkov Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre where she performed many leading mezzo parts.
In 1993, she became a laureate of the International Glinka Singing Competition. In 1994, Ms. Durseneva won the International Chamber Singing Competition "The Amber Nightingale" in Kaliningrad, Russia. She joined the Bolshoi Opera company the same year. Since then, at the Bolshoi she has performed such parts as Vanya in Glinka's "Ivan Susanin", Konchakovna in Borodin's "Prince Igor", Basmanov in Tchaikovsky's "The Oprichnik", Martha in "Iolanta", the Nanny in "Eugene Onegin", Marfa in Mussorgsky's "Khovanschina», Lyubasha in Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Tsar's Bride", Clarice in Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges", La Princesse de Bouillon in Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur" and many others.
In 1995, Ms. Durseneva became a Laureate of the International Moniuzsko Singing Competition in Warsaw. The same year, she took part in Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh" production at the Bregenz-Festspiele. In 1997, she returned to Bregenz to appear in Rubinstein's "The Demon". She also appeared in the concert version of "The Demon" under the baton of Vladimir Fedoseev in Wiener Konzerthaus in 1998.
In the 1998/99 season, Ms. Durseneva had a great success as Amelfa in Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Golden Cockerel" production at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London. In Summer 1999, she returned to London with the Bolshoi Opera Company as the Innkeeper in Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov". A few months later, she appeared in this part in the Opera Ireland production in Dublin.
Her further engagements included Podtochina in Shostakovich's "The Nose" in Leipzig and Amelfa at the Ravenna Festival (Italy) with the Bolshoi Opera. The role of Mrs. Quickly in Verdi's "Falstaff got her a great critical and public acclaim. She also performed Janachek's "Missa Glacolitica" in Madrid, Stravinsky's "Mavra" in St. Petersburg and Jena (Germany), "The Tsar's Bride" in the Wiener Konzerthaus, Martha in "Iolanta" in Copenhagen. In 2002, Ms. Durseneva made her debut with the Teatro alla Scala in the same part. Her appearances in 2002 included Podtochina in "The Nose" in Amsterdam, cantata "Alexander Nevsky" by Prokofiev in Dresden and the Innkeeper in "Boris Godunov" at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. A new production of "The Oprichnik" in Cagliari, Italy with Ms. Durseneva as Basmanov marked the beginning of the year 2003.
In 2003, at the Bolshoi Alexandra Durseneva sang the role of Baba the Turk in the premiere of Stravinsky's opera "The Rake's Progress" directed by Dmitry Tcherniakov and Ratmir in the concert perfomance of «Ruslan and Ludmila». In May, Alexandra took part in the Bolshoi Theatre's tour of Spain and Portugal singing excepts from "Prince Igor" by Borodin. In June, she traveled with the Bolshoi to Riga to sing Clarice in "The Love for Three Oranges" by Prokofiev. In October, she took part in the concert perfomances of Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" in Montreal, Canada. In Novemer 2003, the singer made her first recital at the Beethoven Hall of the Bolshoi Theatre where she presented Mussorgsky's "Songs and Dances of Death" and the vocal cycles by Schumann and Brahms.
In 2004, Alexandra Durseneva participated in the Bolshoi Opera soloists concert in Helsinki, sang Lyubasha at the Samara Spring Festival and appeared in the Bolshoi performances of The Fiery Angel in Moscow. She also took part in the Arnhem Festival, the Nederlands, where she sang Parasha's mother in Stravinsky's Mavra. Alexandra returned to the Nederlands later that year to perform this part in the other venues. By the end of 2004, she appeared as Sonetka in the Bolshoi's opening of Lady Macbeth of Mzensk and made her debut as Ulrika in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera.
March 2005, was very special for Alexandra: she gave birth to her daughter Luybasha and was awarded the title of Merited Artist of Russia.
In July, she was already back to stage singing Mother Superior in Prokofiev's «The Fiery Angel» in the frame of the Bolshoi's performances at the Ljubljana Music Festival in Slovenia.
In 2006, she sang the part of Vesna in Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Snow Maiden" at the New Stage of the Bolshoi Theatre and the part of Duenna in Prokofiev's "Betrothal in a Monastery" (conductor — Vladimir Jurovsky) at the famous Glyndebourne Opera Festival. She was very convincing as Sonetka in "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" dedicated to the celebration of Shostakovich's 100th birthday anniversary and performed at the Bolshoi Theatre under baton of Gennady Rozhdestvensky. In November 2006, she participated in the concert version of Rakhmaninov's "Aleko" (Old Gypsy Woman), performed at Salle Pleyel (Paris), as well as at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory where the opera was recorded.
In 2007, she performed in the Bolshoi’s premieres of "Boris Godunov" (The Nurse), later shown in Slovenia (Ljubljana) and Finland (Savonlinna), and "The Queen of Spades", and the part of The Countess became very important for Alexandra Durseneva's artistic biography. In November 2007, she sang Ulrica in "Un ballo in maschera" in Bergen (Norway).
At the beginning of 2008, she performed her signature part of Duenna in "Betrothal in a Monastery" in Valencia (Spain) followed by the concert version of "Iolanta" conducted by maestro Yury Temirkanov in Madrid (she also did it later that year Festival Hall in London) and «Boris Godunov» at La Fenice with Feruccio Ferlanetto who sang Boris. After that she was invited to take part in Sharka by Yanachek in 2009. In December, she had a great success with the part of Fenena in Nabucco in the Bolshoi Theatre.
In 2010, Alexandra Durseneva made her debut as Amneris at the Kharkov's Opera and Ballet Theatre. The performance was dedicated to her mother - Lyubov Popova-Durseneva, People's Artist of Ukraine. During 2009-2010, Alexandra Durseneva performed many concerts in Moscow where she sang arias from operas by Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bizet, Verdi, Saint-Saens, as well romances and lieder by Dvorak, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky.
In 2011, the singer recommenced her recitals at the most prestigious concert halls.
In March 2011, she performed a concert of chamber music at the Maly Hall of St.Petersburg Philharmonia The program had been prepared with the pianist Lyubov Orfenova and included the works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. The same program was performed for the Moscow public in the Irina Arkhipova Hall of the International Union of Musicians. In April 2011, Alexandra performed a concert "And fatal passions are all around…" at the Chamber Hall of the Moscow International House of Music. The program included works on a Gypsy themes by Verdi, Bizet, Dvorak and Mark Minkov (pianist - Vladimir Slobodyan).
In 2011-2012, Alexandra performed in "Boris Godunov", "The Fiery Angel" and "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" at the re-opened Historic Stage of the Bolshoi Theatre. In February 2012, she presented a program with Vsevolod Grivnov at the Irina Arkhipova Hall as a tribute to the great Russian singer Irina Arkhipova. In November 2012, Alexandra was a participant and a guest of honour at the Samara Forum "Happy family as a basis of the happy future of Russia" and performed "Iolanta" in concert in Surgut (Siberia).
On the 7th of December, 2012 at the Arkhipova Hall Alexandra Durseneva, introduced her new programme «Ave Maria» (with organ) to commemorate the memory of Irina Arkhipov.
The beginning of 2013 was marked by another event – the performance of a new programme “About children, death and love” with the Quartet of the Bolshoi Theatre followed by a cycle of vocal music by Vladimir Jurowski Senior on P. B. Shelly’s poetry. On the 12th of June, which is Russia’s Independence Day, the singer, together with her colleagues, gave a concert in Israel. Till the end of the year Alexandra performed a number of recitals in St.Petersbourgh, Kaliningrad , at the Chamber Hall of Moscow International House of Music, at the Beethoven’s Hall of the Bolshoi Theatre, at the Roman Catholic Cathedral and Evangelical-Lutheran Stt. Peter-and-Paul’s Cathedral (Moscow).
In 2014, apart from the concerts at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow House of Music (in the frame of Rimsky-Korsakov Festival), the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the Evangelical-Lutheran Stt. Peter-and-Paul’s Cathedral (Moscow) the singer was a jury member at the VIIth All-Russia Vocal Festival in London held within the programme of the Russian-British cross-cultural year. Alexandra also participated in Glyndebourne Festival (Great Britain) where she performed the part of Nanny in “Eugene Onegin”. In December, the singer took part in the premiere of “Rigoletto” at the Bolshoi Theatre.
A special event in the singer’s life was a release of the solo album “Alexandra Durseneva. Russian romances” under “Melodia” label in November 2014. The album contains the music pieces by the great Russian composers of the XIX-XXth centuries recorded together with pianists Vladimir Slobodyan and Liubov Orfyonova. This CD can be purchased at The Bolshoy Theatre shop, downloaded from iTunes or ordered through the official site of “Melodia”.
In 2015, Alexandra Durseneva performed a series of concerts of Petr Ilyich Tchakovsky's music to celebrate the great composer's 150th jubilee. The concerts were held in the Beethoven Hall of the Bolshoi Theatre, the Chamber Hall of the Moscow House of Music and the Italian Courtyard of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. The Bolshoi's soloists Elena Zelenskaya, Elena Evseeva and Evelina Dobracheva also appeared in those concerts.
2016 was marked as the 135th anniversary of Modest Mussorgsky's death, and Alexandra's programs have been thought of as a tribute to the great composer. The concerts took place in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad: the romances and scenes from the operas were enhanced by the on-screen demonstration of photos and movies selections which contributed to a very special atmosphere of the concerts. In Summer 2016, Alexandra Durseneva was one of the promoters and performers of the Opera Nights at the Petrovsky Palace which hosted the stars of the Bolshoi Theatre. In the near future the singer will appear in a concert performance of Sergey Prokofiev's "Semyon Kotko" at Concertgebouw (Amsterdam, the Nederlands).
In 2016, Aleksandra's concerts in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad were a tribute to the anniversary of the great Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky's death. Her concerts with diverse programs were also held in the Petroff Palace, the Italian Yard of the Pushkin Fine Arts State Museum and the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral in Moscow. In Autumn 2016, Ms. Durseneva appeared in the concert performance of Prokofiev’s Semyon Kotko (conductor – Vladimir Jurowski) in the Royal Concertgebouw (Amsterdam).
In January 2017, Aleksandra Durseneva presented her new multi-genre program – a tribute to Camille Saint-Saëns that featured both opera and ballet soloists of the Bolshoi Theatre. Next month she appeared in the opera gala in Cyprus followed by her recitals in the Mirrow Hall on Pushechnaya Street. and the Moscow Conservatory Small Hall. She also continued her cooperation with the Petroff Palace where a number of open-air concerts featuring the Bolshoi leading soloists took place.
At the Bolshoi Aleksandra performed the part of Balda in the opera The Tale of the Priest and of his Workman Balda and participated in the sensantual “Nureyev” ballet production (the parts of Mezzo-soprano/ The Porter/The King and in the concert devoted to the 200th anniversary of the Russian poet Aleksey Tolstoy.
This winter Aleksanra together with the painter Zhanna Yakovleva presented a new project : «Music&Painting Club» where the two art forms are interacting with each other within one space. She also participated in the «Сhristmas Gala» in the frame of the 7th International Arts Festival «In Anticipation of Christmas” in the Saint Paul and Peter Cathedral where she performed The Alto Rhapsody for contralto, male chorus, and orchestra by Johannes Brahms.
The year 2017 also marked a release of Aleksandra’s second CD with “Melodia” label – Romances of the 20th Century (Piano: Vladimir Slobodyan and Lyubov Orfenova) composed of rarely performed pieces by Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Vladimir Jurowski (senior) and Mark Minkov.
In 2018 and 2019, Aleksandra continued her serias of the musical portraits of the great composer in the Chamber Hall of the Moscow International Hall of Music. The concerts were a tribute to Francesco Cilea and Mikhail Glinka. A number of recitals were held in the White Hall of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts , the Beethoven Hall of the Bolshoi Theatre, The St. Petersburg Philharmonia, the Petrovsky Palace, the State Litrrature Musem, the St. Petri and Pauli Lutheral Cathedral and Music&Painting Arts Club. She also gained new experience in performing contemporary music due to her cooperation with minimalist composer Sergey Akhunov and Dmitry Sinkovsky La Voce Strumentale Ensemble in a joint project “Songs & Poems”.
In Summer 2018, Aleksandra appeared in a new production of Boris Godunov at Opera de Bastille in Paris (conducter - Vladimir Jurowski, stage director – Ivo van Hove).
Her recent engagement – the part of Donna Mensia in the world premiere of The Devil in Love by Alexander Vustin at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre in Moscow.
In June 2019, she will appear in the concert performance of “Boris Godunov” as well as in the world premiere of Yury Butsko’s cantata “The Legend of the Pugachev’s Riot” in the Moscow Tchaikovsky Hall with the State Academic Symphone Orchestra. In the same Aleksandta will perform Fricka in the concert performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold with Vladimir Jurowski conducting.
She has worked with many of the world's leading conductors Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Vladimir Fedoseev, Andrei Chistiakov, Michail, Vladimir and Dmitri Yurovsky, Mark Ermler, Michail Pletnev, Zoltan Peshko, Yuri Temirkanov, Eliahu Inbal, Gintaras Rinkiavichus and directors — Eymuntas Nekroshius, Harry Kupfer, Sir Peter Ustinov, Tim Hoppkins, Lamberto Pugelli, Graham Vick, Alexandre Sokurov, Timur Tcheidze, Valery Fokin, David Slaiter, David Pountney, Franceska Zambello, Ivo van Hove, Kirill Serebrennikov.