Dmitri Hvorostovsky: Live Recordings 1994-2016 (CD)

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Dmitri Hvorostovsky: Live Recordings 1994-2016 (CD)

Born in Krasnoyarsk in 1962, Dmitri Hvorostovsky is known to us only with snow-white hair. That along with his precociously mature and sonorously dark baritone made him almost ageless, as in his Eugene Onegin under Kirill Petrenko (2010) or his Prince Yeletsky a year earlier in The Queen of Spades. Both roles were prime examples of the baritones Russian repertoire.

First comes bel canto like I Puritani with the 31-year-old singing under the baton of Placido Domingo and a duet as Figaro with the Count Almaviva of Michael Schade. Dmitri Hvorostovsky stands out above all on this album as a true Verdi baritone: as Posa (Don Carlos), for example, and in paternal roles. It is all for good, given their dramatic impact, that ensemble scenes dominate: the quartet in which Hvorostovsky plays Rigoletto alongside Patrizia Ciofi, Ramon Vargas and Donna Ellen, or Hvorostovskys Simon Boccanegra in the finale of Act I of Verdis eponymous and all too rarely performed opera.

By then, Hvorostovskys cancer was far advanced and much of his singing lacks the effortlessness of decades earlier. But this is more than compensated for by the depth of his characterization, which makes us overlook any shortcomings elsewhere. The climax is his moving aria as Anckarstrom in the original Swedish version of Un ballo in maschera, in which he fears he has lost the love of his wife. It ends with the bitter-sweet resignation of O dolcezze perdute, o speranze damor (O sweet moments lost, O vain hopes of love).

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