Dmitri Hvorostovsky: The World’s Leading Baritone?
Now just into his 50s, Dmitri Hvorostovsky is at the peak of his career. Recognized by his long, flowing silver hair, glittering jewellery and tight-fitting suits, he certainly looks the part as the most charismatic Russian singer of his generation. His vocal performance and stage presence combine to considerable musical and dramatic effect. He was cast in People magazine's 50 most beautiful people, a rare occurrence for a classical musician. He is known for his long-breathed, far-reaching phrases, his dark brooding smoky timbre, his incomparable legato, breath control and virile sound which make for a distinctive voice and place him at the forefront of leading baritones in the world today.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky performs regularly on the prestigious concert stages and opera houses of North America, Europe and Asia and is also in great demand for recitals and concerts. His opera repertoire stretches far and wide apart from Verdi, Caccini and Handel to Shostakovich, Sviridov, Mozart to Prokofiev. Roles for which he is most noted include Count di Luna in Il Trovatore, Posa in Don Carlo, Rigoletto, Prince Yeletsky in The Queen of Spades and the title role in Eugene Onegin. Recent additions to his repertoire include Renato in Un Ballo in Maschera and the title role of Simon Boccanegra.
Hvorostovsky was born in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. He studied at the Krasnoyarsk School of Arts under Yekatherina Yofel and made his debut at Krasnoyarsk Opera House. He went on to win First Prize at both the Russian Glinka Competition in 1987 and the Toulouse Singing Competition in 1988. In 1989 he won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, beating local favorite Bryn Terfel in the final round. His international concert recitals began immediately (London debut, 1989; New York 1990). He has since sung at virtually every major opera house, including the Metropolitan Opera (debut 1995), the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Berlin State Opera, La Scala and the Vienna State Opera.
In recent years Hvorostovsky's stage repertoire has almost entirely consisted of Verdi operas such as Un ballo in maschera, La traviata and Simon Boccanegra. In 2009 he appeared in Il trovatore in a David McVicar production at the Metropolitan Opera with Sondra Radvanovsky. He is especially renowned for his portrayal of the title character in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin.
It is now 25 years since the unforgettable night when Dmitri Hvorostovsky won the 1989 final of Cardiff Singer of the World, beating Bryn Terfel, who came away with the Lieder prize. That battle of the giants launched two careers at the highest level.
By Ian Renner, cultural aficionado