Dmitri Hvorostovsky, 55

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Dmitri Hvorostovsky, 55

Postby Genius In The Lamp » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:07 pm

From the Guardian:

Renowned for his silver mane and smouldering good looks as much as his richly burnished baritone, the Russian singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who has died aged 55 after suffering from brain cancer, was a distinctive presence on the opera and concert stage. He came to prominence in the west when he won the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World competition, pipping Bryn Terfel (who took the lieder prize) to the post. The Royal Opera, Decca and EMI were already on his trail, and the following day he had a recording contract in his pocket. The exceptional vocal qualities of the 26-year-old – a dark-grained lyric baritone timbre, seamless legato and immaculate breath control – were already evident.

His Covent Garden debut came as Riccardo in Bellini’s I Puritani in 1992. Having taught himself, by careful study of recordings, the principles of bel canto singing – the flexible line and tonal nuances – he was able to bring a silky Italianate lyricism to bear on roles as wide-ranging as Don Giovanni, Valentin in Gounod’s Faust, Germont in La Traviata and Simon Boccanegra.

But it was in his native Russian repertory that he excelled, with Yevgeny Onegin, which he memorably recorded with Semyon Bychkov in 1992, as his signature role. His handsomely Byronic demeanour coupled with that characteristic suavity of voice and commanding stage presence, gave him an advantage over his competitors. Onegin’s stiffness and hauteur came perhaps all too naturally to him, and indeed he was not an actor who responded well to directorial guidance. His brooding delivery could be somewhat generalised too, lacking the character’s full anguish and conflicting emotions in the final stage of the opera.

His hair having turned prematurely white in his early 30s, Hvorostovsky cut a unmistakable figure on the opera stage. He needed no wig to portray the patrician Verdi characters such as Boccanegra or Germont and there was a distinctly old-fashioned quality about his stand-and-deliver projection to an admiring audience. When he appeared as Valentin in Gounod’s Faust at Covent Garden in 2011, alongside René Pape as Mephistopheles, there was a palpable sense of competition in the air as he stepped up to deliver his big Act Two number, Avant de quitter. Though not entirely inappropriate in the context of David McVicar’s vigorously physical, theatrical staging, Hvorostovsky’s barnstorming conclusion was an unashamed, arms-lifted appeal to the gallery.

In the summer of 2015 he announced that he was suffering from a brain tumour and underwent treatment in London, his primary residence from the 1990s. Travelling to the Metropolitan, New York, during a break in his therapy, he managed to appear, as the Count di Luna, in three of the six performances of Il Trovatore for which he was contracted. It was an emotional occasion, the audience interrupting the action with a thunderous ovation when he first took the stage; at curtain call he was showered with white roses thrown by members of the orchestra. He also gave a sold-out recital at Carnegie Hall in February 2016.

Born in Krasnoyarsk, central Siberia, Dmitri was an only child. Owing to the demanding schedules of his father, Alexander, an engineer, and mother, Lyudmila, a gynaecologist, he was brought up largely by an adored maternal grandmother and a step-grandfather whose alcoholism was the result of traumatic experiences in the second world war. At first he attended music school in the afternoons and evenings, but at the age of 14 became involved with street gangs, consuming vodka, getting into brawls and having his nose broken several times. He nevertheless completed his schooling and at 16 enrolled on a course for choral conductors. Then entering the conservatory in Krasnoyarsk, he studied with Ekaterina Yoffel, who helped him to acquire the enviable breath control that was to stand him in such good stead later on.

Travelling abroad for the first time in 1988, he won the Concours International de Chant competition in Toulouse. Then followed the career-defining Cardiff triumph and early successes on the international stage. There were less happy episodes in the late 1990s, however, often exacerbated, according to Hvorostovsky’s own testimony, by excessive drinking. “I could easily put away two bottles of vodka after a performance,” he said later. He was also inclined, he admitted, to be “far too arrogant and categorical” with directors.

In 1989 he had married his first wife, Svetlana, a former ballet dancer, and his behaviour contributed to the breakup of the marriage. However, he gave up drinking on New Year’s Day 2001, in which year he married the Swiss-born soprano Florence Illi, who survives him, as do their two children, Nina and Maxim, the twins from his first marriage, Daniel and Alexandra, and his parents.

His career revived and he won much acclaim at the Met in 2003 with an impassioned Germont, opposite Renée Fleming, singing her first Violetta at the house. He subsequently sang to great success in virtually all the major opera houses of the world, appearing frequently too on the recital platform. His final recording, in the title role of Rigoletto, was released earlier this month.

The colouring of individual words, the quicksilver nuances of expression, may not have been Hvorostovsky’s forte. Yet intensely self-critical, he by no means lacked insight into, and empathy with, the psychological dilemmas of his characters. At his best, he offered a baritone of unparalleled beauty and a compelling stage presence.


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Re: Dmitri Hvorostovsky, 55

Postby Cartman » Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:27 pm

Opera Man, Bye Bye!
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Re: Dmitri Hvorostovsky, 55

Postby Boomshadow » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:34 am

Final cause of death: complications from having to pronounce his own name for over five decades.
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