Elena Prokina

Opéra Singer

Elena Prokina

Opéra Singer

Recital & Concert

S. Rachmaninov. Three Russian Folk sons. Op.41, N2(« Эх, ты, Ваня»
Paul Daniel conducting RSNO
At Royal Albert Hall
Nation Favorites
BBC Proms
Elena Prokina -soloist

Prokina’s vocal revelations

MUSIC: Elena Prokina,  Wigmore   Hall


NO ONE goes to Elena Prokina recital for an easy evening of relaxation and musical reassurance. And that includes Prokina itself.

In the Wigmore Hall was surprisingly less than full to greet the Odessa-born,  Leningrad trained soprano, it may have been because of typically uncompromising programme with which she challenged herself and her audience.

   To begin with a song without words might seem litlle more than a way of warming up in public. But Nicolai Medtner’s Sonata-Vocalise for voice and piano is a full-length sonata movement in which the voice has to put itself through paces as exacting as those of any solo instrument. And with no story, no consonants with which to mould t hemélide, the voice has to work overtime. Prokina,  certainly,  did.,  though  with a deceptive ease that showed how immaculately trained and wisely nurtured her voice is.

   And to end - well, the exact opposite. The words of paramount importance in Shostacovich’s ‘Satires’, settings of the poet Sasha Chyorny, originally written for Galina Vishnevskaya and  Mstislav Rostropovich. Prokina may not have quite a fierce hauteur of a Vishnevskaya but, spurred on by the virtuoso preludes  of her pianist, Alexei Goribol, she joined the revolt against sentimentality in Spring Awakening, and created a crescendo of raging resignation for Descendants, an acerbic lament of the long wait for Utopia.

   In between came Prokofiev's Five Poems by Anna Akhmatova, their economy of gesture and lyrical intimacy perfectly judged by Prokina and Goribol: two miniature rites of spring by Stravinsky; and - the revelation of the evening - five settings of Fyodor Tyutchev by Leonid Desyatnikov.

   The total imaginative understanding of both voice and piano, and exploitation of their partnership, recalls the art of Hugo Wolf, though the mucical ironies and cross references are enyirely of Desyatnikov's post-modern time. And the voice, confidently and wonderfully, is entirely hits own. Prokina returns to the Wigmore Hall in March: more please!

Hilary Finch, The Times


Wigmore Hall, London

We haven’t seen or heard  much of Elena Prokina of late. The Russian soprano, whose Katya Kabanova at Covent Garden and Tatiana at Glyndebourne rank among unforgettable operatic experiences of the last decade, hasn't graced these shores for several years.

   Mercifully, her Wigmore Hall recital was worth the wait. Prokina's glamour is undiminished, and when she walked on stage - seemingly sewn into a sprangled purple sheath that left nothing to the imagination - there was a gasp from the sudience.

   She trained in the theatre before turning to music, and may best be descibed as a singing-actress of great power. Occasionally, you are conscious of flaws in her vocal methodology. The sound is fierily voluptuous, though the tone occagionally hardens under pressure. All this is insignificant, however, compared to the excitement she can generate.

   Schubert's Gretchen has been seduced, impregnate and deserted by Faust. Prokina begins her famous spinning song clutching her belly, then abandonsherself to a flood of delirious erotic reminiscence begore recovering her poise. She gives us Schumann's version of Goethe's androgynous Mignion, stuck in emotional hell between a wimpish lover and a domineering father, bringing her music to the edge of hysteria.

   Schumann also set five of Mary Stuart's ( not very good) poems. Prokina responds by producing the most complete musico-dramatic portrait of the Queen of Scots that I've yet encountered.

   She devoted the second half of her programme to Reinhold Glière, whose music she has championed and extensively recorded. He  has the reputation of being the arch-socialist realist of Stalin’s Russia, and his big public statements are the dreadful epitome of totalitarian high camp. His songs, however, formed a canon of intensely private works conceived out of the glare of the communist spotlight.

   Both in subject matter and style, they're full of all the things a socialist realist isn't supposed go anywhere near. Tragic erotic passion, tender sentiment and nostalgia for the idealised orient of the Imperial Caucasus are their themes.

   Wagner(bucket loads of Tristan and Isolde), Strauss and Debussy underpin their chromatic yearnings. Prokina immerses herself in their heady atmosphere with the grace of an elegant, yet savage animal waiting to spring.

   She's some lady. Let's hope we don't have to wait quite so long before we get to hear her again.

Tim Ashley.

The Guardian, 18/10/2000

«Admitedly, Rostropovich had two trump cards this time:Maxim Vengerov, whose electrifying performances of the First Violin Concerto a  fortnight  ago brought the hous down, and soprano Elena Prokina who has garnered much acclaim in various operatic roles.[ ] 

 Prokina poignantly conveyed the desolation of "The Suicide" and "The Poet's Death", while the chamber forces of the LSO expertly captured the transformation of the " Malaguena's tavern rhythms into a dance of death."

Barry Millington " Aces bolster a minor hand" 28/10/1998 The Times

Haydn à Londres: un séjour triomphal.

La soprano Elena Prokina et ” Les Musiciens” sous la direction de Jeannot Weim erskirchen  l'eglise paroissiale de Mensdorf.


L'ensamble " Les Musiciens" a le don de présenter des programmes d'une unité rare. Nous avions suivi " Mozart à Paris" et nous voilà sur les trace de " Haydn à Londres". Cette approche musicologiques, cette inteligence de la musice dans ses contextes historiques, nous les devons au professeur Joseph Groben, qui dirige les choix de l'ensamble avec une finesse et une culture qui placent cet excellent orchestre à un niveau internationalement apprécie.

Le président de la Commissioneuropéenne, Jacques Santer, et son épouse assistèrent à ce concert qui faisent revivre les triompes de Haydn à Londres. Le grand compositeur résida dans la capitale anglaise de 1791 à 1792, puis de 1794 à 1795. "Arianna à Naxos"(1791) ainsi que l'ouverture pour un opèra anglais " L'anima del filosofo ossia Orfeo ed Euridice"(1791) datent du premier, la " Scena di Berenice"(1795) et la symphonie en ré majeur " Londres" du deuxième séjour dans la ville.

La soprano russe Elena Prokina, prima donna de l'opèra Mariinski( Théatre Kirov) s'est produite sur de sombreuses svènes lyriques d'Europe, d'Amerique, et d'Australie, elle obtint le " Grammy Classical Award" pour son rôle dans la registrement de " Guerre et paix" de Projofieff.

" Ariana a Naxos" est la plus émouvante des cantates de Haydn; d'abord écrite pour voix et accompagnement de clavicin ou de pianoforte, elle fut ici exécutée avec orchestre. Ceux qui connessent la promière version, préféreront peut-être celle-ci à cause de dialogue plus direct et plus intime entre voix et instrument. Nous avont beaucoup aimé l'interpretation donnée par " Les Musiciens": la partition due à un contemporain anonyme de Haydn, accentue avec art les qualités tragiques, le relief  théâtral de l'oeuvre.

La cantatrice, habituée des grands rôles dramatiques d urépertoire démonstra son sens du style et de la déclamassion classiques en entrant dans le monde  mythique de la fin du dix- huitième  siècle avec une pureté d' intention admirable. Une belle voix lumineuse, aux forti vibrants, aux pianissimi soyeux.

 C'est  avec douceur que la soprano énounça le premier doute, la première interrogation:"Teseo, mio ben, - 'ove sei?", déjà dans sa façon de rendre l' appréhension, on reconnut la grand interprète, lartiste qui cherche la vérité psychologique. La tension montra graduellement, et l'appel  " vieni, oh, vieni, mio caro" transmit une intensité qui se développa à partir de l'exclamation "Stringi, stringi con nodo più tenace" vers les sonorotés poignantes propres aux rôles dramatiques. Purtant, l'artiste ne dépassa jamais  les limite exigée par la classique; l'exécutiin mélodieuse de l'air " Dove sei, mio bel tesoro?" enchantra par le volume bien dosé, alors que le drame y  garda toute sa force. Chaque nuance trouva son expression juste et les pianissimi avaient cette suavité sublime qui fait naitre l'emotion.

" Les Musiciens", convaincants, entourèrent la cantantrice avec beacoup d'allure et le chef d'orchestre,, très attentif, chaleureux, fit résonner le drame musical dans ses élans et angoisses. Il ne put toutefois empècher quelques rares et d'ailleurs très lègers decalages entre soprano et orchestre.

C'est dans la seconde partie de la cantate que l'on se laissa littéralement subjuguer par le talant d' Elena Prokina. L'air " Ah, che morir vorrei..." lui donna l' occasion d'exprimer le désespoir, la douleur et la révolte de façon éminemment dramatique.

[ ] "La scena di Berenice", autre plante tragique inspirée par la séparation  de l'être aimé, est sans doute plus déchirante que la premier ouvre vocale de la soirée. La soprano, y brilla à nouveau par sa musicalité, par la compréhension apportée aux moindres inflexions du texte littéraire et musical. Une belle voix aux notes haute manifiques; une présence scénique attachante.

ici on ne put qu'admire l' unité entre soliste et orchestre...

Hilda van Heel, Luxembourger Wort, 20/02/1999


Dargomïzhsky, Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Balakirev, Shostakovich, Salmanov, Minkov Elena Prokina (soprano), Elena Abeleva (piano), Wigmore Hall, 1pm, Monday March 21st, 2005 (CC) Talk y star substitutions. Lorraine Hunt Lieberson was originally billed for this lunchtime, cancelled and so we had the magnificent Elena Prokina, an international star who sang her native music (she is Odessa-born) with magnificent style. The sheer range of repertoire should have been enough, surely, to entice a full or near-full house. But no, there were inexplicably plenty of spaces. Small matter. Those of us lucky enough to be present were served a feast of Russian song. The thread that ran through the recital was that of a Spanish influence, a proclivity began in Russian music by Glinka. But it was not Glinka that kicked things off. It was Alexander Dargomïzhsky (1813-1869), a composer best known (almost exclusively known, in fact) for his Pushkin opera,The Stone Guest (1866-9), an opera that has gained bad press for its unrelenting use of arioso. He did, interestingly, write aRusalka, too. Three Dargomïzhsky songs began the recital, one an aria from The Stone Guest (Laura’s aria, ‘Granada lies enveloped in the mist’). And what a revelation they were. The first, ‘The Sierra Nevada is shrouded in mist’ introduced Prokina’s rich, full voice and her smooth, legato line. The opera aria, a sweetly hesitant waltz, contrasted with the disturbed, dark sonorities of ‘The night zephyr’. Elena Abeleva’s accompaniments were musical and unassuming (she played with the lid up and never once even threatened to drown her soloist). Prokina obviously feels a great affection for this composer – two of the three encores came from his pen (the remaining one was the only ‘real’ Spanish music of the concert, some De Falla). The jollity of Glinka gave relief in the programme. The frivolity of ‘I am here, Inezilla’ (1834) sat well with ‘Oh wonderful girl of mine’ from the 1940 Farewell to St Petersburg. But it was when we got to Tchaikovsky that it was easy to recognize the arrival of truly great music. Two Serenades were Prokina’s offerings (Op. 63 No. 6 of 1887 and Op. 65 No. 1 of the following year). Prokina reveled in lines such as, ‘may your repose … be caressed by the soft sound of kisses’ (from the first Serenade on offer). Perhaps it was slightly unfair to the other composers to include Tchaikovsky. All offerings were fine specimens of the genre, yet set beside the Tchaikovsky, Balakirev’s Spanish Song (1855) sounded distinctly second-league. The Shostakovich Spanish Songs, Op. 100 of 1956 deserves more frequent airings. Prokina and Abeleva gave us Nos. 1, 2 and 6 of this set of arrangements of traditional Spanish folk-tunes. Immediately Shostakovich takes us into a Spain of the darkest hues, the piano low and resonant. Of course, anything jaunty comes through the Shostakovich-prism, while the contrasting ‘Dream’ provided a measure of peace. Here, as everywhere, Prokina’s diction was perfect. The Sonnet (1960) by Vadim Salmanov was a real surprise (it comes from his 1960’s song-cycle Spain in the heart). English-only text in the booklet (an extra pound on top of the ticket price – no composer credited, wrong date given for the Shostakovich… no composer given for the Salmanov…) stopped full appreciation of this real cri-de-coeur. And finally, a sequence of songs from Mark Minkov’s Crying of the Guitar (1921), settings of Lorca, jazz-inflected at times, hypnotic at others. Amusing also – but sad – in the final ‘Carmen’, an image of an ageing Carmen whose hair is white and who dreams of ‘suitors of other days’. This last song was the only one in which Prokina really let rip, possibly scaling her voice down for the size of the hall in the rest of the recital. What a great voice she has. It is always a pleasure to hear her. Weeks can surely have no better start than this Monday lunchtime.

Colin Clarke

Prokina sang well-contrasted songs by Glinka, Tchaikovs and Rachmaninov deliciously and with unforced directness that reached well back into the hall. There’s was nothing aloof or self-admiring here, but the range of expression was stanning . Whether in Rachmaninov ‘s sweetly beautiful « Daisies ‘ or Tchaikovsky ‘s disturbing ‘ Once again, alone’, Prokina ‘s identification with the song’s inner world was complete. No ghosts of festival’s past here, instead a positive pointer to the future.

Stephen Johnson ‘Past, present, future ‘( at the Aldeburgh festival)

The Independent Thursday 30 June 1994

«  For the CLS had two outstanding soloists: Russian soprano Elena Prokina, whose perfectly focused voice and artistry make her uniquely moving interpreter of Shostakovich’s settings Appolinair and Rilke... »

Hilary Finch

25/10/2000 The Times