Aleksandra Kurzak

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Aleksandra Kurzak
La Juive 7504-michelides.jpg
Kurzak (mid) in La Juive at the Bavarian State Opera, June 2016
Born (1977-08-07) 7 August 1977 (age 42)
OccupationOpera singer (soprano)
Years active2000–present
Spouse(s)
Jacek Jaskuła
(m. 2000; div. 2010)

Roberto Alagna (m. 2015)
AwardsGold Cross of Merit (2015)
Gold Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis (2018)
Websitealeksandrakurzak.com

Aleksandra Kurzak (born 7 August 1977) is a Polish operatic soprano.

She had been successful in light lyric and coloratura soprano repertoire such as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Gilda in Rigoletto, and Adina in L'elisir d'amore. From the early 2010s, she began taking up gradually heavier roles in bel canto and Verismo repertoire such as Violetta in La traviata, Nedda in Pagliacci, and Desdemona in Otello. After her debuts at New York Metropolitan Opera and the London Royal Opera House in the 2004/05 season, she has been known to leading opera houses in addition to her native Poland.

Since her marriage with Roberto Alagna, the couple often appears together in concerts and opera productions.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Brzeg Dolny and raised in Wrocław,[1] Kurzak is daughter to operatic soprano Jolanta Żmurko and horn player Ryszard Kurzak.[2] She began her musical studies at the age of 7, playing the violin,[3] and had intended to be a violinist. Despite her singing talent being noticed, she did not consider singing seriously in her childhood. She went on studying in the violin class at the Karol Szymanowski Musical High School.[a][4] She turned to singing after graduation and started voice lesson just before the entrance of the academy with her mother, whom she still considers her primary teacher.[1][5]

During her studies at the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music from 1996 to 2000, Kurzak participated in several music festivals and was laureate in multiple competitions.[b] Despite not having entered the final round, she attributed her international debuts to the 2000 Operalia Competition due to being discovered by Peter Katona, the casting director of the Royal Opera.[1][5] After graduation, she pursued postgraduate studies at Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg till 2004. She received a doctorate degree in music in 2009 and habilitated doctor's diploma in June 2016.[6]

Career[edit]

Opera[edit]

Kurzak became soloist at the Wrocław Opera during college studies.[4] On 26 May 1999, she made her opera debut as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro alongside her mother as the countess.[7] In 2001, she performed Hanna in Moniuszko's The Haunted Manor at the Polish National Opera in Warsaw. She also returned to the role in January 2007 when the production was again revived.[8]

In 2001 she joined the Young Artists' Programme of the Hamburg State Opera, and then became an ensemble member from the 2003/04 season.[9] After successful performances as Gilda in Rigoletto and the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, she gained recognition and was subsequently engaged in various roles including Blonde in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro.[10][11] She also received critical recognition as Marzelline in Fidelio and Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare.[12][13]

She received international attention when she debuted at the New York Metropolitan Opera as Olympia in Les contes d'Hoffmann in December 2004,[14] and at the Royal Opera House as Aspasia in Mitridate, re di Ponto in July 2005.[15] She returned to the Royal Opera in the following seasons participating in several productions including Don Pasquale,[16] L'elisir d'amore[17] The Marriage of Figaro,[18] and Matilde di Shabran, where her performance overshadowed the intended star of the show, her stage partner Juan Diego Flórez.[19] She also performed Gilda in Rigoletto at the Teatro Regio di Parma and Théâtre du Capitole,[20] Ännchen in Der Freischütz at the Salzburg Festival,[21] and Norina in Don Pasquale at the Teatro Massimo.[22]

In April 2008, she returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Blonde in Die Entführung,[23] and in January 2009 as Gilda in Rigoletto,[24] a role she reprised at the Polish National Opera and Finnish National Opera.[25] She also brought performances as Blonde to Lyric Opera of Chicago in March, missing only the first performance due to laryngitis.[26] In May and June 2009, she portrayed Aspasia again at Palacio de la Ópera in A Coruña and Welsh National Opera.[27] Later the year, she was featured in Don Giovanni as Donna Anna and Tancredi as Amenaide at the Theater an der Wien.[28]

In February 2010, Kurzak made her debut at Milan's La Scala in Rigoletto.[29] The month also saw her first Violetta in the Polish National Opera's premiere of La traviata, which revived in later seasons with her as the same role.[30] Later, she returned to the Royal Opera House as Fiorilla in Il turco in Italia and sang Donna Anna at La Fenice and the Salzburg Festival.[31][32] In October, she debuted as Lucia at the Seattle Opera[33] and was then named 2010/11 Artist of the Year by the company for the performances.[34] She started the year 2011 as Rosina in Royal Opera's production of The Barber of Seville, a role she also performed later at the Arena di Verona.[35] She then appeared as Adina in L'elisir d'amore at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia and the Vienna State Opera[36] in addition to Violetta at the Teatro Regio di Torino and Susanna at the Teatro Real.[37][38] She debuted at the Los Angeles Opera as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte in September and reprised Lucia in Warsaw the next month.[39][40] In December she returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Gretel in Hansel and Gretel.[41]

In 2012, in addition to performances as Susanna at the Royal Opera House, La Scala and the Vienna State Opera,[42] she opened Gounod's Roméo et Juliette as Juliette at the Arena di Verona and debuted at the San Francisco Opera in Rigoletto.[43][44] In December, she returned to the Covent Garden in a revival of Pelly's production of L'elisir d'amore.[45] The year 2013 saw a series of performances as Gilda at the Zürich Opera House, the Polish National Opera in Warsaw and the Arena di Verona.[46] She debuted at the Liceu as Adina and performed Marie in La fille du régiment at the Vienna State Opera.[47][48] After La traviata in Vienna in September, she went on maternity leave, withdrawing from Rigoletto opening in November at the Metropolitan Opera. She was replaced by Irina Lungu and Sonya Yoncheva.[49][50]

In July 2014, she returned to La Scala as Adèle in Le comte Ory.[51]

In June 2015, she performed the title role in Maria Stuarda beside Carmen Giannattasio as Elizabeth I at Théâtre des Champs-Élysées[52] and debuted at the Paris Opera as Adina in Pelly's production of L'elisir d'amore in November.[53][54]

In March 2016, Kurzak returned to Adina in a Sher's production revival at the Metropolitan Opera to rave reviews.[55] She made several role debuts[56] including Rachel in La Juive at Bavarian State Opera,[57] Nedda in Pagliacci at Zürich Opera House,[58] Mimì in La bohème at Berlin State Opera.[59][60]

In July 2017 she debuted as Liù in Andrei Serban's production of Turandot with Roberto Alagna as Calàf and Lise Lindstrom as Turandot conducted by Dan Ettinger at the Royal Opera House.[61]

Concert and events[edit]

Kurzak was frequently featured in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana as the soprano soloist.[62][63][64][65] She was featured in the 2011 Napa Valley Festival del Sole[66][67] and was a guest performer at the 2012 Semperopernball.[68] In February 2015 she took part in Szymanowski's Stabat Mater with Ingo Metzmacher conducting Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra respectively at Berliner Philharmonie and Wiener Musikverein.[69][70]

Personal life[edit]

Kurzak married baritone Jacek Jaskuła[4] in 2000. They divorced after 10 years.[71] She married French tenor Roberto Alagna in November 2015.[72] They have a daughter, Malena,[c] who was born on 29 January 2014.[73]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 1998: 1st place and special prizes of the V Intercollegiate Vocal Competition in Duszniki-Zdrój
  • 1998: 1st prize at the International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition[74]
  • 1999: Prize for Young Talent at the Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition in Helsinki[75]
  • 2000: Special Prize ("Ajuntament de Moià" scholarship) at the Viñas International Singing Contest[76]
  • 2000: Millennium Award from the Mayor of Wrocław
  • 2000: Wrocław Music Award
  • 2000: 3rd prize at the International Vocal Competition in Canton, China
  • 2002: Elise Meyer Preis[77]
  • 2006: Dr. Wilhelm Oberdörffer-Preis of season 2005/2006[78]
  • 2010: Annual Prize of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage[79]
  • 2013: Song and Stage Star of Wiktory [pl] 2012[80]
  • 2013: "Crystal Mirror" (Kryształowe Zwierciadła) Award from Zwierciadło [pl] ("Mirror") magazine[81]
  • 2015: Readers' Award of the International Opera Awards[82]
  • 2015: Gold Cross of Merit[83]
  • 2016: "For Merits for Poland and Poles in the World"[d] Award from TVP Polonia[84]
  • 2018: Gold Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis[85]

Opera roles[edit]

Publications[edit]

  • Laskowski, Aleksander (2015). Si, Amore – Aleksandra Kurzak w rozmowie z Aleksandrem Laskowskim [Si, Amore – Aleksandra Kurzak in Conversation with Aleksander Laskowski]. Polish Music Publishing House. ISBN 978-8-3224-0960-2.[86]

Discography[edit]

Kurzak signed an exclusive contract with Decca Classics in January 2011, being the first-ever Polish singer to do so.[87] She signed to Sony Classical in May 2018.[88] The Szymanowski album won the Album of the Year – Choral Music, Oratorio & Opera in the 2018 Fryderyk Award.[89]

Year Title Type Collaborating Artist(s) Label Peak chart positions Certifications
POL FRA
2009 Chopin: Songs Joint recital

Nelson Goerner
Mariusz Kwiecień

Fryderyk Chopin Society
2011 Gioia! Solo recital

Omer Meir Wellber
Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana

Decca Classics 8[91]
2012 Hej, kolęda! Solo recital

Sebastian Karpiel-Bułecka

Universal Music Poland 16[93]
2013 Bel Raggio: Rossini Arias Solo recital

Pier Giorgio Morandi
Sinfonia Varsovia

Decca Classics 50[94]
2017 Szymanowski Collaboration

Agnieszka Rehlis
Dmitry Korchak
Artur Ruciński
Jacek Kaspszyk
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra & Choir

Warner Classics
2017 Nowowiejski: Quo Vadis Full work

Artur Ruciński
Rafał Siwek
Piotr Sułkowski
Warmia and Mazury Philharmonic Orchestra

Dux Records
2018 Massenet: La Navarraise
(as Anita)
Full work

Roberto Alagna
George Andguladze
Brian Kontes
Issachah Savage
Michael Anthony McGee
Alberto Veronesi
Opera Orchestra of New York
New York Choral Ensemble

Warner Classics
2018 Deliverance Single Roberto Alagna Deutsche Grammophon
2018 Puccini in Love Joint recital Roberto Alagna
Riccardo Frizza
Sinfonia Varsovia
Sony Classical 38[95]
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Polish: Liceum Muzyczne im. Karola Szymanowskiego
  2. ^ Prizes are specified in the Awards and honours section.
  3. ^ Spelling varies between Malena, Maléna, Malèna
  4. ^ Polish: Za zasługi dla Polski i Polaków poza granicami kraju

References[edit]

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  3. ^ Schulz, Tom R. (2005-02-20). "Glückliche Nonne im Orden des Gesangs". Die Welt.
  4. ^ a b c Domagała, Adam (2004-10-06). "Rozmowa z Aleksandrą Kurzak" [Interview with Aleksandra Kurzak]. Gazeta Wyborcza (in Polish).
  5. ^ a b McDonnell, Keith (2010-04-01). "Features: Aleksandra Kurzak". musicOMH.
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External links[edit]