Julia Lezhneva

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Julia Lezhneva
Born Yulia Mikhaylovna Lezhneva
(1989-12-05) 5 December 1989 (age 25)
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Soviet Union
(now Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia)
Occupation Opera singer (soprano)
Years active 2005–present
Website julialezhneva.com

Julia Lezhneva (Russian: Юлия Михайловна Лежнева) (born December 5, 1989) is an award-winning Russian soprano opera singer and recitalist, specialising in soprano and coloratura mezzo-soprano material of the 18th and early 19th century.[1][2] She studied with Tamara Cherkasova, Irina Zhurina, Elena Obraztsova, Dennis O'Neill and Yvonne Kenny.

Early life and education[edit]

Julia Lezhneva was born on December 5, 1989 in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Sakhalin island), Russia, into a family of geophysicists.[3] In 2004, Lezhneva graduated with distinction from the Gretchaninov Music School in Moscow. In June 2008, she received an honours degree for her vocal studies and a diploma for piano at the Moscow Conservatory Academic Music College. She pursued her studies from 2008 till Summer 2010 at the Cardiff International Academy of Voice (CIAV) under Dennis O'Neill with the generous support by Kempinski Arts Support Programme initiated by Marylea Van Daalen.

While at CIAV, Lezhneva participated in masterclasses of Richard Bonynge, Carlo Rizzi, Kiri te Kanawa, Ileana Cotrubas, and Rebecca Evans.[4] She has attended masterclasses with Elena Obraztsova in St. Petersburg in 2007, and with Alberto Zedda at the Accademia Rossiniana in Pesaro in 2008. She also attended masterclasses with Thomas Quasthoff during the 2009 Verbier Festival.[5]

Lezhneva made solo appearances at the Great, Small and Rachmaninoff Halls of Moscow State Conservatory, the Great and Small Halls of Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic, the Bolshoi Theatre and also internationally in Poland, Japan, Slovakia, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Norway and Italy. At the age of 12 Lezhneva began to participate in vocal competitions and festivals. She won the Grand Prix at both of Elena Obraztsova's international competitions, the 1st Competition for Young Vocalists (2006) and the 6th Competition for Young Opera Singers (2007), for which she also won all special prizes. The Jury included Christa Ludwig, Eva Marton & Teresa Berganza among others.

In August 2009 Lezhneva became the youngest ever winner of the Mirjam Helin International Singing Competition, winning the 1st prize during its 6th competition.[6] Among Lezhneva's many other awards is the Russian 'Triumph' award for her contribution to culture and art. Lezhneva performed in concerts at such international festivals as the Salzburg Mozartwoche Festival (with conductor Marc Minkowski) and Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro (with conductor Alberto Zedda and tenor Juan Diego Flórez).[7][8]

Season 2009 – 2010: Vivaldi's Ottone; Classical Brits & Salzburg[edit]

During the 2009/10 season, Julia gave solo performances in the UK, Poland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Norway, and Italy. In January 2010 she made her debut at the Salzburg Mozartwoche Festival, performing the soprano part in Mozart’s Great Mass under the baton of Marc Minkowski. In April 2010 she participated in the memorial concert for late Polish president Lech Kaczynski, singing the soprano part in Mozart’s Requiem under Marc Minkowski at the Main Square of Kraków.

Following her British debut in Liverpool during February 2010,[9] Lezhneva made her London debut on 13 May 2010, at the age of 20, singing Elena's Final Rondo from Rossini's La donna del lago at the Classical Brit awards at the Royal Albert Hall. Dame Kiri te Kanawa, recipient of the evening's Lifetime Achievement award, personally introduced Lezhneva as her protégée. Operatic tenor Dennis O'Neill, director at the Cardiff International Academy of Voice, where Lezhneva has studied since September 2008, said:

We at the International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University are delighted that our President Dame Kiri te Kanawa has chosen to present Julia as her protégé. It will launch Julia’s career on a global level and we are proud that our work here is also being recognised as the institution to have contributed to the advanced preparation and development of this new world-class artist.[10]

In 2010 Lezhneva participated in the European concert tour (Kraków, London's Barbican Centre, Castellon, and Valladolid) and recording of A. Vivaldi's Ottone in villa performing the title role of Caio with Il Giardino Armonico and Giovanni Antonini, as well as gave debut solo concerts at the Salzburg Festival with the Mozarteum Orchestra and Marc Minkowski

Season 2010 – 2011: Rossini CD, Tour & Les Huguenots - with Marc Minkowski[edit]

Naïve released the artist’s first solo recording in spring 2011, Rossini arias with Marc Minkowski and Sinfonia Varsovia. The CD topped the French classical charts and won the Diapason d’Or de l’Année ‘Jeune talent.’[11] It was the Gramophone Editor’s Choice for July 2011 and the German MDR 'CD des Jahres 2011,'[12]

Highlights of the season included concert performances of Mozart’s Così fan tutte—singing the role of Fiordiligi—with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble, a debut at La Monnaie as Urbain in a new production by Olvier Py of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots conducted by Mr. Minkowski, Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta at the Salzburg Festival, opposite Anna Netrebko, with Ivor Bolton conducting the Mozarteum Orchestra, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor under Giovanni Antonini also at the Salzburg Festival, and an American debut in performances of the Mozart Requiem with Louis Langrée and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center.

Lezhneva’s acclaimed stage debut at the Théâtre Royal La Monnaie in Brussels earned the artist one of the most prestigious international opera awards: Opernwelt "Nachwuchssängerin des Jahres 2011".

Season 2011 - 2012: Tamerlano in Salzburg & Vivaldi's L'Oracolo[edit]

This season saw Ms Lezhneva’s debut with Cleveland Orchestra under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst performing the Mozart’s Great Mass in C. The artist has been concertizing throughout Europe with several solo programmes, including a Handel tour throughout Grenoble, Lausanne & Berlin Staatsoper as well as a ‘Mozart Da Ponte’ tour throughout France, both projects with Marc Minkowski & Les Musiciens du Louvre. Ms Lezhneva performed a role of Trasimede in a worldwide premiere European tour (Kraków, Caen & Vienna Konzerthaus) and made a live recording of A. Vivaldi’s ‘Oracolo in Messenia’ for Virgin Classics. In return to the Salzburg Mozartwoche 2012, the artist performed soprano 2 solo in J.S. Bach’s Magnificat & W.A.Mozart’s Litanie KV243 with Marc Minkowski & MDLG. Ms Lezhneva also performed recitals with pianist Mikhail Antonenko throughout Russian Federation and Europe, including such venues as St-Petersburg Philharmonic, Ghent Festival of Flanders and Torroella Festival. Ms Lezhneva performed a concert with Philippe Jaroussky under Diego Fasolis & I Barrochisti in Neumarkt and recorded a Pergolesi Duet Album for Erato/Warner classics. Lezhneva enjoyed an overwhelming success performing G.Rossini’s La Donna del Lago Elena’s aria during the Victoires de la Musique Classique Ceremony 2012, sharing the Gala stage alongside Renée Fleming, Natalie Dessay, Philippe Jaroussky and Nathalie Stutzmann. Lezhneva continues her artistic relationship with the Salzburg Festival, for the third consecutive season, gaining extraordinary success from both public & press singing the role of Asteria in Handel’s Tamerlano at the Grosses Festspielhaus alongside Plácido Domingo, Bejun Mehta and Franco Fagioli under Marc Minkowski & MDLG.

As of November 30, 2011, Lezhneva is an exclusive DECCA solo artist.

Season 2012 - 2013: Handel's Il Trionfo, Il Barbiere & Alleluia CD[edit]

The past season overviewed Ms Lezhneva’s further projects with Il Giardino Armonico & Giovanni Antonini – her new DECCA Solo Album ‘Alleluia’ was released in March 2013 to major critical acclaim as well as numerous solo concerts dedicated to the CD programme were performed throughout Europe. The CD topped numerous classical charts around the world, particularly in Germany, Belgium, UK & Australia. The CD received numerous 5 star reviews from around the world as well as gained the Gramophone's "Editor's Choice", Luister 10 of 10 (Review) & ECHO-Klassik award.

Lezhneva performed Piacere in Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno concert version alongside Rene Jacobs & Freiburger Barockorchester throughout Europe, including Freiburger Konzerthaus, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Auditorio Nacional in Madrid & Cologne Philarmonic Hall well as the same role with Il Giardino Armonico & Giovanni Antonini for the Budapest Spring Festival and Misteria Paschalia Festival in Kraków. Lezhneva appeared at the Live MDR televised SemperOpernBall in Dresden alongside Vittorio Grigolo singing Rossini's Aria 'Fra il padre' and performe recitals in Moscow at the ‘December Nights Festival of Sviatoslav Richter’ at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts’ alongside Il Giardino Armonico as well as televised one at the Great Hall of Moscow State Conservatory alongside Wladimir Fedoseev. Lezhneva performed Rosina in Rossini's Il Barbiere de Seviglia on June 14, 2013, at the Theatre des Chapms-Elysees Paris, under the baton of Sir Roger Norrington.

Season 2013 - 2014: Handel's Alessandro & Pergolesi CD[edit]

Lezhneva triumphed performing the role of Rossane in Handel's Alessandro concert version opposite M.E. Cencic, L. Aikin & Xavier Sabata under George Petrou and Armonia Atenea, gaining standing ovations and great critical acclaim throughout the tour in Bucharest Atheneum, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Paris Salle Pleyel & Theater an der Wien.

On October 6, 2013 Lezhneva received her first ECHO-Klassik Award, for the Alleluia Album. She also performed at the Ceremony, held at the Berlin Konzerthaus, broadcast nationwide by ZDF Television.

The artist continues to perform numerous solo concerts with Il Giardino Armonico / GIovanni Antonini - this season in Bilbao Philharmonic, Barbican Hall London, Vienna Konzerthaus, Zagreb Lisinski Concert Hall, Valladolid, Murcia and for Halle Festspiele Handel.

Lezhneva performed a recital with pianist Mikhail Antonenko at the Quincena Festival gaining standing ovations on August 6, 2013 and will continue performing recitals during this season at the venues, including St.-Petersburg Great Philharmonic Hall, Moscow Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (December Nights Festival), Vic L'Atlantida, Pamplona Teatro Gayarre, Girona Auditorium. Lezhneva debuts in her first Australian tour with recital at the Melbourne Recital Centre & concert for Hobart Baroque Festival. The artist will also appear at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow on December 26, 2013 participating at the Elena Obraztsova Anniversary Gala.

January 2014 will see Lezhneva perform Soprano Solo in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater with Philippe Jaroussky (Alto) under Diego Fasolis and I Barrochisti at the Essen Philharmonie, Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Lucern KKL. In April 2014 Lezhneva will concertize with Helsinki Baroque Orchestra under Aapo Haekkinen in a Solo tour including Helsinki Music Centre and Lisbon Gulbenkian.


Lezhneva's repertoire ranges across many styles and periods, from Baroque to bel canto to Romantic. It comprises works by Vivaldi and Broschi, Bach and Handel, Hasse & Porpora, Mozart and Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti, Massenet and Charpentier, Rimsky-Korsakov and Gretchaninov. She also performs songs by Fauré, Schubert, Schumann, Berlioz, Debussy, Boulanger, Rimskiy-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Prokofiev.

Performances & Collaborations[edit]

Julia Lezhneva performs in the prestigious concert and operatic halls of Europe, USA and Asia, including the Royal Albert Hall and Barbican Hall in London, Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall in New York, Cleveland Severance Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Theatre des Champs-Élysées, Salle Pleyel, Theatre du Chatelet & Salle Gaveau in Paris, Wiener Konzerthaus and Theater an der Wien, Berlin Staatsoper under den Linden, Berlin Konzerthaus & Dresden Semper Oper, Essen Philharmonie & Konzerthaus Dortmund, Brussels Theatre Royal de la Monnaie, Grand Hall of Moscow Conservatory, The Bolshoi Theatre Moscow, Grand and Glinka Halls of the St-Petersburg Philharmonic, as well as for the Salzburg Festival, Salzburg Mozartwoche, Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, Verbier, Beaune, Torroella, Quincena Musical, Wratislawia Cantans, Misteria Paschalia, Drottningholms Slottstheater, Rossini Opera Festival & Sviatoslav Richter's December Night Festival at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

Julia Lezhneva collaborates with conductors including Marc Minkowski, Giovanni Antonini, Alberto Zedda, Philippe Herreweghe, Franz Welser-Möst, Sir Roger Norrington, René Jacobs, Louis Langree, Fabio Biondi, Jean-Christoph Spinosi, Diego Fasolis, Ottavio Dantone, Andrea Marcon, Vladimir Fedoseev, Vladimir Minin, Vasily Petrenko and singers, including Plácido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Joyce DiDonato, Dennis O’Neill CBE, Juan Diego Flórez, José Carreras, Vittorio Grigolo, Piotr Beczala, Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emmanuel Cencic, Bejun Mehta, Franco Fagioli, Xavier Sabata, Nathalie Stutzmann, Vivica Genaux among others.


  • Bach, Mass in B Minor. Label: Naïve Records
  • Rossini, Rossini Arias Label: Naïve Records
  • Vivaldi, Ottone in villa – Verónica Cangemi, Sonia Prina, Julia Lezhneva, Topi Lehtipuu, Roberta Invernizzi; Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini (conductor). Label: Naïve Records RV729
  • Handel, "Alessandro" Label: Decca Classics
  • Vivaldi, "L'Oracolo in Messenia" Label: Virgin Classics
  • "Alleluia" - Vivaldi, Handel, Porpora, Mozart (four motets), with Il GIardino Armonico Label: Decca Classics
  • "Pergolesi" - Stabat Mater; Laudate pueri: Confitebor tibi domine - Duet Album with Philippe Jaroussky: Erato/Warner Classics


  • 6th Elena Obraztsova International Competition for Young Opera Singers, August 2007: Grand Prix Winner
  • 6th Mirjam Helin Singing Competition, August 2009: 1st Prize
  • 1st Paris International Opera Competition, October 2010: 1st Prize
  • Independent Russian Prize "Triumph" for 2009 year
  • Gramophone's Editor's Choice: Rossini Arias CD
  • MDR 'CD des Jahres' Rossini Arias CD
  • Diapason d'Or de l'Annee 'Young Artist': Rossini Arias CD
  • Opernwelt 'Young Singer of the Year', 2011 (Urbain, the Page - G. Meyerbeer's 'Les Huguenots')
  • Opera of the Year (Opera Awards): ALESSANDRO CD
  • BBC Music Magazine (CD of the month): ALESSANDRO CD
  • Diapason d'Or de l'Annee: ALESSANDRO CD
  • Choc de l'Annee: ALESSANDRO CD
  • Muse d'Or: ALESSANDRO CD
  • Stanley Sadie Handel Recording Prize: ALESSANDRO CD
  • LUISTER 10 (Review): ALLELUIA CD
  • Gramophone's Editor's Choice: ALLELUIA CD
  • ICMA Award Winner: Pergolesi CD (with Philippe Jaroussky)
  • HELPMANN AWARD (Best Solo Classical Performance of the Year) - Australia, for the performance at the Hobart Baroque Festival


If this programme of Handel arias and sacred songs is any judge, Lezhneva certainly has a phenomenal gift, a voice that ranges evenly over the most intricate coloratura, with never a blemish or sign of aspirating. It is a serene, sleek voice, beatific in timbre, with a bell-like resonance that carries well. Technically it is flawless. Like a well-groomed young acrobat, Lezhneva is at an age when fear plays no part in a performer’s armoury.

—Andrew Clark, Financial Times[13]


  1. ^ "Obraztsova told me I have a Rossinian voice and that I had to sing Rossini! This inspired me to learn Rossini."..."Her current repertoire encompasses equally both bel canto and Baroque." http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/Article/335787,julia-lezhneva-a-reason-to-sing-alleluia.aspx
  2. ^ "I would love to do more Baroque and Classical music, as I am so deeply in love with it - it is part of my soul, it lives in my heart...I think some Rossini central roles, such as Donna del Lago [Elena] or Mozart's Fiordiligi are ideal for me for future." http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/interview/1029/Julia-Lezhneva-on-Alleluia
  3. ^ Naive Records: Source for biographical and career information
  4. ^ "Interview with Julia Lezhneva from OperaNews (Russia)". 10 May 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  5. ^ List of participants during 2009 Verbier Festival. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  6. ^ Mirjam Helin competition website. Accessed 20 March 2012.
  7. ^ Further biographical and career details from bach-cantatas.com
  8. ^ Review of Yulia Lezhneva's voice and work from Kommersanz, 3 April 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  9. ^ Hickling, Alfred (23 February 2010). "Review from The Guardian". London. Retrieved 15 May 2010. 
  10. ^ "Classical BRIT Awards". 12 May 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2010. .
  11. ^ Diapason magazine, 18 November 2011. Accessed 1 January 2012.
  12. ^ MDR (Germany) report dated 14 December 2011. Accessed 1 January 2012
  13. ^ Julia Lezhneva, Barbican, London – review Financial Times, May 9, 2014.

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