Irena Milkevičiūtė (soprano)

Sound recordings
Sound recordings

Irena Milkeviciute is among the most remarkable personalities in contemporary Lithuanian music culture; she enjoys global recognition. At the beginning, she chose kankles, but in 1976 she graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre where she studied singing with Prof. Z.Paulauskas. The same year she was invited to the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre where she still sings all principal lyrical and dramatic soprano parts. In 1978–1979, she continued her studies at the famous La Scala theatre in Milan where she prepared the parts of Madam Butterfly, Mimi, Violetta and soprano part for G.Verdi’s Requiem and sang during concerts produced by the theatre in Piccola Scala , Rome, Parma, Busset and Fidenza. After her studies at La Scala, she was assessed as a singer having “good vocal technique, exceptionally musical, an excellent feeling of style”. Prof. Irena Milkeviciute has been teaching at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, for many years.

1977 - I prize at M.Glinka Competition in Moscow
1978 – diploma at the International P.Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow
1982 – II prize at F.Erkel and F.Kodaly Competition in Budapest
1986 – II prize at Madam Butterfly Competition in Tokyo
1995 – Christophor awarded by the Lithuanian Theatre Union
1996 – Diploma of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Gediminas, 2nd degree
1997 – titled as the best Lithuanian singer of the year; Kipras awarded by the Friends of Opera Society

Irena Milkeviciute won international recognition as she was singing in many world-famous theatres and concert halls: theatres of the former Soviet Union, also in Moscow Bolshoi Theatre, St. Petersburg Maria Theatre, Latvian National Opera and elsewhere. In 1987, she sang the parts of Aida and Desdemona during the Split International Festival, Croatia; in 1988, together with LNOBT, she sang in Warsaw Great Theatre, later during the famous Savonlina festival in Finland in 1993. In 1988 she prepared the part of Lisa for Warsaw Great Theatre and performed it during her tour in Paris. In Warsaw, I. Milkeviciute also sang Lady Macbeth, Mary (in Masepa), toured with this theatre France, Switzerland and Germany. Wroclaw Opera invited her for its twelve shows of Nabucco in Germany and Denmark. In 1997, together with Latvian National Opera, she performed in 20 shows of Nabucco in The Netherlands, England and Scotland. I. Milkeviciute has been constantly participating in Lithuanian Opera Chicago premieres together with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra (Leonora in The Troubadour, Desdemona in Othello, Norma in Norma, Aldona in I Lituani, Egle in Pilenai. Together with Latvian National Opera she sang in Turandot and Abigail during the festival organised by Brigit Nillson in Dalhala (Sweden), participated in St. Pertersburg White Nights Festival (Elisabeth), Riga Opera Festival (Aida) and Menden Opera Festival in Germany.

Irena Milkeviciute has given over 100 solo concerts in Lithuania and abroad. She has performed in Baltic States, Transcaucasia, Russia, (Moscow Conservatoire, Tchaikovsky Hall and Maly Glinka Hall in St. Petersburg), England, Ireland, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Philippines, France and Austria; in 1991, 1992 and 1993, she gave many memorable concerts in USA (Carnegie Hall (New York), Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland), also in South America (Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and Montevideo), etc.

Irena Milkeviciute has worked with many famous conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Valery Kagan, Fuat Mansurov, Paolo Olmi, Florencio, Erik Klaas, Gintaras Rinkevicius, Saulius Sondeckis, Jonas Aleksa, Juozas Domarkas, Vytautas Lukocius, Rimas Geniusas, Liutauras Balciunas, Martynas Staskus and Vytautas Virzonis. Irena Milkeviciute’s stage partners have been: Irina Archipova, Evgeny Nesterenko, Maria Biesu, Gegham Grigorian, Maria Guleghina, Kaludi Kaludov, Paata Burchuladze, Sergej Larin, Violeta Urmana, Stefania Toczyska, Olga Borodina, Roberto Scandiuzzi, Dolora Zajick, Leo Nucci, Varen Mok, Virgilijus Noreika, Vladimiras Prudnikovas and many others.

G.Puccini Madame Butterfly act 4, performed by I.Milkevičiūtė, A.Janutas, R.Mickus (piano)

P. Mascagni Cavalleria Rusticana, performed by I. Milkevičiūtė, A. Janutas, R. Mickus (piano)

Vincenzo Bellini Norma's aria from opera „Norma" I act.

Irena Milkevičiūtė, soprano, conductor Gintaras Rinkevičius, Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra

S. Rachmaninov. Здесь хорошо. How nice it is here

Turandot aria "In questa reggia" from Giacomo Puccini opera "Turandot" II act.

With the wonderful warmth of her voice, the fragile singer’s soul and femininity, she has conquered the audience of Moscow and became its favourite.

Pravda, 28 07 1986

Already today she can, doubtlessly, sing on any world-famous stage, and she will be met with wonder and admiration.

Trybuna Ludu, 20 01 1988

If we knew nothing about her and considered only what we heard that evening, we would say that she came to us from some world-famous theatre: Metropolitan, Covent Garden, La Scala, or God knows where from... Her soprano is wide and powerful. Slightly metallic, easily controlled, equally juicy in all registers and fit to withstand the entire orchestra, the mass of choir and other soloists.

Draugas, Chicago, 06 05 1989

Irena Milkeviciute, a soloist from Lithuanian Opera and Ballet Theatre, has filled the soprano part with almost unearthly beauty. When the singer reached the high C, the listeners in the cathedral had to catch their breath.

Lubecker Nachrichten, 29 11 1995

Turandot performed by Irena Milkevičiūtė, her fierce, but tender singing, was really beautiful. Sitting close to the stage, I heard her loud singing, her strong pleasant voice. I was thinking, why Puccini didn’t leave some space for applause after her wonderful “In Questo Reggia“.

Cork Opera House, 1998

...every subtlest pianissimo, which Irena Milkevičiūtė as if weaved, sounded very beautifully. She is very sensitive to dynamics and drama, which, like a pure and sparkling waterfall, has prepared the audience for her offending death during the last act. Her coloratura soprano is memorable. Her voice in the aria “Tu vedrai che amore in Terra” is remarkable for precision and flute-like sound. Now when Gorbachov’s glastnost has allowed her to go abroad, Lyric Opera would be right to bring her again.

A Pioneer Press Newspaper, Chicago, 03 05 1989

Dolora Zajick, big of voice and seemingly an apt Marfa, is strangely subdued here. It behooves Ms. Zajick to dominate the explosive personalities around her (Emily Pulley as Emma, Irena Milkeviciute as Susanna).

The New York Times, 1999 02

It is worth mentioning a wonderful Susanna by Irena Milkeviciute separately: her powerful steely voice was floating in the spacious La Scala hall very lightly thus rendering the character of the old woman attacked by spirits with authority and crotchety.

L’Opera, Italy, 04 1998

Doubtlessly, the culmination of the evening was the appearance of Irena Milkevičiūtė, a diva from Lithuania. She has demonstrated wonderfully why tickets to her concerts are usually sold out six months ago in her home country. She sang arias from Verdi and Puccini’s operas powerfully, richly and with a dramatic gesture, but also she formed their lyrical moments elegantly and meaningfully. Nevertheless, her ability to modulate from the most powerful fortissimo to the tenderest pianissimo has made the greatest impression. We have not heard such a voice before.

Mendener Zeitung, 09 1998

In the stunningly professional production of G. Verdi’s Il Trovatore last week, Lithuanian opera was represented by soprano Irena Milkevičiūtė who came here to debut as Leonora. This has been the most impressive debut in Lyric Opera this year. The audience was captivated by her smoothly rising, glittering and enchanting voice, which she uses with rare artistry.

Music, Chicago, 1989

Abigail by Irena Milkeviciute was a masterpiece of vocal flexibility.

Birmingham Post, 15 02 1997

Considering the part (Abigail in G. Verdi’s opera Nabucco), it is necessary to note that there were no week places. Irena Milkevičiūtė as Abigail was really memorable, despite the fact that she was not the most subtle singer. She managed to control her gently waving high notes and sharpen her low chesty notes by meeting all musical standards.

Carol Main, Classical, - The Scotsman, 11 02 1997

Samson’s entrance looked as if formidable Billy Cannoly was giving his place to Irena Milkeviciute as his illegitimate daughter. Abigail was destined to become the real star of the performance. Convincingly creating the character with her developed voice, she was, doubtlessly, the first among other performers, giving her entire self to music.

Carol Main, Classical, - The Scotsman, 11 02 1997

Your song encourages the nation to reach for heights that are accessible to all free nations, and in exile, you strengthen our faith in the genius of our nation.

V.Adamkus, Chicago, 1989

As Violetta in opera Traviata, Irena Milkeviciute has subverted the standards of theatre. She has dramatised the lyrical, coloratura based part of this fragile being and revealed tragic, strong human experiences and gradations of sentimentality.

Jurate Vyliute, Literatura ir menas, 11 06 1988

When high level mastery in singing and excellent professional knowledge meet, the effect is wonderful. This is the essence of Irena Milkeviciute’s soprano. The light and pure timbre replacing tension emphasises the dramatic aspect of the opus. And “Vissi d’arte” – the divine light has been reached through enthusiastic applause as the audience’s gratitude to this singer.

Opera Actual IX-X, No. 29, Madrid, 1998

The part of Princess Turandot was performed by soloist Irena Milkeviciute. This name is not very well known in Sweden. However, in all aspects, she is a wonderful singer doing whatever is possible.

Noje and evenmang, 09 08 1999

Although it was not easy, the soloist Irena Milkeviciute has reached her goal singing high pitch pianissimo with an unusually beautiful sound of her voice. Moreover, her forte also was manifest, and the chilling voice did not stop filling the surrounding space. Broadly speaking, she has created an excellent Turandot.

Sommar Kultus, 09 08 1999

...however, perhaps, I. Milkevičiūtė (as Aida) has made an even greater impression on me – this was an exceptional performance of this soloist; I do not remember when she sang like this.

Lietuvos rytas, 09 05 2000

The festival Menden a la carte held an evening of Three Sopranos where I. Milkeviciute clearly surpassed the other two participants of the feminine triumvirate: singers from Israel and Menden. Her performance was titled as the climax of the concert, and critics described her singing as “stunning with unimaginably wide and flexible scale of dynamics”. A German reviewer remarked: „She sang arias from Verdi and Puccini’s operas powerfully, richly and with a dramatic gesture, but also she formed their lyrical moments elegantly and meaningfully. Nevertheless, her ability to modulate from the most powerful fortissimo to the tenderest pianissimo made the greatest impression. We have not heard such a voice before” (Mendener Zeitung)

Lietuvos Rytas, 28 09 1999