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Tribute to Hvorostovsky

A brain tumor has taken the great Russian baritone at the age of 55...

By Abigail Church | Video of the Day | November 23, 2017
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Qobuz

In 2015, at a time when his vocal maturity allowed him to take on the great theatrical roles such as Falstaff, Scarpia, Gianni Schicchi, Rigoletto, Grémine, and Père Germond, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who was suffering from an inoperable brain tumor, was forced to cancel all his engagements for the stage.

His last public appearance was at a Gala on the 7th May 2017, for the fifth anniversary of the Metropolitan Opera at the Lincoln Center in New York. He sparked the crowd’s enthusiasm by performing "Cortigiani, vil razza", the famous monologue from Rigoletto. Hoping that the best therapy was continuing to sing, Dmitri Hvorostovsky continued his art every day, dreaming that he would one day be able to get back up onto the stage, a hope that fate tragically refused him on the 22nd November 2017.



With fairies having brought both a beautiful voice and a beautiful physique to his cradle, Dmitri Hvorostovsky learned from an early age how to use these attributes to become one of the greatest baritones of recent years. Since making his international breakthrough in 1989, he has left his mark on some of the main opera stages all over the planet. Born in Krasnoïarsk (Siberia), he graduated with a music degree in just 4 years and soon after began to win competitions, first in the Soviet Union and then in Toulouse. But it was the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 1989 that hugely boosted his career. The young man kept his promisses by singing in all the roles of the Russian and Italian repertoires: Eugene Onegin, War and Peace, The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, La Traviata, Un ballo in maschera, Il trovatore, I puritani and Don Carlos.



The beginning of his career was a dazzling success. His ease on stage, his deep and generous voice and his warm timbre that’s perfectly homogenous with his full range allowed him to make his characters truly convincing. The major record companies latched on, with Philips in the lead, instantly allowing him to record numerous operas and recitals. Never short of risky comparisons, the tabloids called him the "Elvis of Opera", which helped spread his image beyond musical circles.



As he aged, his voice transformed, gaining power and becoming more flexible. Aware of his worth, the singer knew that he had conquered the world. Proud, warm and obstinate, he admits that he had his life together: "It must be said, I became a saint: I stopped smoking and drinking alcohol". Dmitri Hvorostovsky has also readily performed French song, for which he managed to perfect the accent thanks to his wife who comes from Geneva, an ex-singer herself. He is not afraid of making crossovers, with many of his albums being devoted to Russian folk songs.



Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s discography is enormous. Scouted right from the start by the major record companies, he has recorded numerous operas: Eugene Onegin, of course, as well as The Queen of Spades, Iolanta, La Traviata, Don Carlo, Cavalleria Rusticana, and Rigoletto. The latter was released in November 2017 and had been eagerly awaited as it was one of his biggest roles ever. The work was recorded in Kaunas, Lithuania, with Francesco Demuro and Nadine Sierra, conducted by Constantine Orbellian.



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