Zara Dolukhanova (1918-2007)
Just a few days ago I learned belatedly of the passing of Armenian mezzo Zara Dolukhanova, who left us in early December, 2007. I was also surprised that my subsequent Youtube search revealed no examples of her art. Well then, time to change the situation!
Dolukhanova made her stage debut in Erevan in 1939. While she left the operatic stage only a few years later, she subsequently built a very enviable concert and radio career that lasted well into the 1970's. Dolukhanova was much renowned for the breadth of her repertory, from Handel to Haydn to many 20th century composers whose works she championed- including Shostakovich, Gavrilin, Tariverdiev, Weinberg, Shaporin, and Sviridov. After switching from mezzo to soprano in 1963, Dolukhanova also sang the title role in the Russian premiere of Puccini's "Suor Angelica". However, she is perhaps best remembered as a bel canto specialist, responsible for bringing to the Russian stage such Rossini operas as "L'Italiana in Algeri", "Cenerentola", and "Semiramide".
From the latter work, we hear Dolukhanova's beautiful mezzo in Arsace's cavatina 'Ah, quel giorno ognor rammento'. Her graceful, lithe voice is quite captivating, and she's completely unfazed by Rossini's formidable coloratura demands. Dolukhanova gets fine support from the USSR Radio Orchestra and conductor Alexei Kovalev.