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Remembering Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962–2017)

The Royal Opera is deeply saddened at the news of the death of the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, at the age of 55.

By Alasdair Steven (Music writer)

22 November 2017 at 12.32pm | 48 Comments

The Royal Opera is deeply saddened at the news of the death of the Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, at the age of 55.

The Siberian-born baritone came to international prominence after winning the BBC Cardiff Singer of the Year Competition in 1989. He made his debut with The Royal Opera as Riccardo (I puritani) under Daniele Gatti three years later, in 1992, returning the following year to sing the title role in Eugene Onegin with Catherine Malfitano as Tatyana. His other performances with The Royal Opera in the 1990s were as Giorgio Germont (La traviata) in 1996, and as Francesco (I masnadieri) in 1998 under Edward Downes in Baden-Baden. He reprised the role of Francesco at Covent Garden in 2002. He also appeared in the Royal Opera House’s Winter Gala in 1993, performing Russian arias, and in the White Nights at Covent Garden Gala in 2000.

From 2001, Hvorostovsky became a regular presence with The Royal Opera, appearing nearly every Season, with a particular focus on the great baritone roles of Verdi and on Russian roles. In 2001, he sang Prince Yeletsky (The Queen of Spades) in Francesca Zambello’s new production under Bernard Haitink, and in 2006 he reprised the title role of Eugene Onegin in a new production by Steven Pimlott, with Amanda Roocroft as Tatyana and Rolando Villazón as Lensky, conducted by Philippe Jordan. His many appearances in Verdi baritone roles included Giorgio Germont in 2008 with Anna Netrebko and Jonas Kaufmann as Violetta and Alfredo and in 2010 with Ermonela Jaho and Saimir Pirgu; the title role of Rigoletto in 2005 and in 2010; Count di Luna (Il trovatore) in Elijah Moshinsky’s new production in 2002 and in its 2009 revival; and Renato (Un ballo in maschera) under Charles Mackerras in 2005, with Nina Stemme as Renato’s wife Amelia. In addition to his Verdi and Russian roles, Hvorostovsky also sang Silvio (Pagliacci) in 2003 in a production by Franco Zeffirelli featuring Plácido Domingo and Angela Gheorghiu as Canio and Nedda, conducted by Antonio Pappano, and Valentin (Faust) in 2011, in an acclaimed revival in which the cast also included Gheorghiu, Vittorio Grigolò and René Pape, conducted by Evelino Pidò.

Hvorostovsky’s repertory also encompassed roles including Simon Boccanegra, Rodrigo, Marquis of Posa (Don Carlo) and Iago (Otello). He appeared regularly at the leading opera houses of Europe and the USA, toured widely in concert and made many DVD and CD recordings, including a large number of solo albums. His final recordings were a studio recording of Rigoletto, Dmitri Hvorostovsky Sings of Love, Peace, War and Sorrow (Russian opera arias) and Russia Cast Adrift (orchestral songs by Georgy Sviridov), all for Delos.

Hvorostovsky’s last performances with The Royal Opera were as Renato (Un ballo in maschera) in Katharina Thoma’s 2014/15 production and as the title role in Kasper Holten’s production of Eugene Onegin in December 2015. The Guardian described his performance in the latter work as ‘exceptional even by his own high standards’.

Oliver Mears, Director of Opera for The Royal Opera, said: ‘We are very sad to hear the news of the death of Dmitri Hvorostovsky. We will miss his artistry, his richly beautiful voice, and his presence both on and offstage - he was a wonderful performer, always full of humour and good grace.  The opera world has lost one of its leading artists, and he will be sorely missed.’

Antonio Pappano, Music Director of The Royal Opera, said:‘It is with enormous sadness that I and the entire Royal Opera House family received the news of Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s passing.

‘He graced our stage with genuine flair and generosity towards his public, developing a career trajectory that was always searching for the next challenge. This spirit of meeting any challenge head on stayed with him through to the last.

‘The sheer beauty of his voice and his matinee-idol good looks made him a favourite with any audience; the joy with which he approached performing was unique. His passing leaves a huge void.

‘On a personal note, I once had the opportunity to accompany him on the piano in a group of songs by Rachmaninoff. The experience remains for me unforgettable, listening to him singing in his native language, the depth of understanding and his vocal prowess were overwhelming.

‘Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife Florence, and his entire family.’

The opening night of Rigoletto will be dedicated to Dmitri Hvorostovsky's memory.

By Alasdair Steven (Music writer)

22 November 2017 at 12.32pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Dmitri Hvorostovsky, obituary

This article has 48 comments

  1. Marie-Louise Dreux responded on 22 November 2017 at 12:48pm Reply

    So saddened by this news. I feel privileged to have seen him during that season of Un Ballo in Maschera in 2015, as well as in Vienna previously. A huge loss to music and opera, but a greater one to his family and friends. Lovely words from Antonio Pappano, which express everyone’s sadness at this tragic loss.

  2. Edward Arckless responded on 22 November 2017 at 12:50pm Reply

    This is a very big loss to us all that love wonderfull singing. Edward Arckless

  3. Maja Arnestad responded on 22 November 2017 at 12:52pm Reply

    My first live experience of Dmitri Hvorostovsky was his Valentin in Faust at Covent Garden in 2011, a truly overwhelming performance. The entire cast was great, but Dmitri was superb, both as an actor and singer. Since then I have heard him many times, lastly his recital in Malmø in September 2016. Very sad to hear of his passing, but his music will live on forever.

  4. Jeremy Iveson responded on 22 November 2017 at 2:27pm Reply

    So sorry to hear this news. What a great loss to the world of opera. A wonderful artist whom I had the great pleasure of seeing at the ROH on a number of occasions.

  5. Junette Lewis responded on 22 November 2017 at 2:45pm Reply

    So very sad to hear this news. I first saw Dmitri Hvorostovsky at Glyndebourne in the title role of Onegin which I always felt was his "signature role". I was subsequently privileged to see him on a number of occasions at Covent Garden, again as Onegin, as Giorgio Germont, as Valentin and as Renato in the Masked Ball. As well as possessing a wonderfully rich baritone voice Dmitri also "looked the part" - brooding, menacing, regal. He will be greatly missed.

  6. r.a. responded on 22 November 2017 at 4:26pm Reply

    What a very great loss to the musical world, and on St Cecilia's Day too ... I have followed Dmitri's career from when he won Cardiff Young Singer of the World many years ago and had the privilege of hearing him live as Onegin (unforgettable) and Germont. He had one of the most beautiful rich voices I've ever heard and such a charismatic presence on stage. My condolences to his family

    • Lory Anello responded on 23 November 2017 at 7:35am

      His passing on St. Cecilia's Day is so poignant. He will be missed by us mortals here on earth, but is now singing in The Great Choir in Heaven and is without a doubt singing solos. Condolences to his family..
      ..

  7. Victor Ellams responded on 22 November 2017 at 4:57pm Reply

    So sad to hear this news.it has been a great privilege to have heard him in so many memorable performances at the ROH including his last as Onegin.His special presence lives on .My sympathy gos to his family and colleagues

  8. Stephen Cutler responded on 22 November 2017 at 5:11pm Reply

    I first heard Dmitri in recital in Melbourne in 1996, and for the last time in Vienna in Ballo in 2016. 20 years seems a cruelly short time. The elegance of his appearance was equally apparent in his singing. A great artist and beautiful person has passed.

  9. Martina (Germany) responded on 22 November 2017 at 5:21pm Reply

    I saw "Dimi" first in a Live-Transmission from the MET in Cinema and from the first moment I loved his voice and his friendly and kind personality. I went to Berlin to see and hear one of his concerts - unforgetable. So sad and my thougts are with his Family.

  10. Petra responded on 22 November 2017 at 5:41pm Reply

    Devastating news - immensely sad! Listening to Dmitri and seeing him perform gave me - and certainly lots of others - so much joy. He will be sorely missed. My heart goes out to Dmitri's family and friends.

  11. carole posaner responded on 22 November 2017 at 5:53pm Reply

    very sad and so yoing
    yhoights with his dear family and friends

  12. marion responded on 22 November 2017 at 7:41pm Reply

    Followed his career after hearing him sing in Vilnius at the festival in 2000. The encores were almost as long the concert and he ended by singing Russian ballads unaccompanied. An amazing voice. Thinking of his family at this time

  13. Diana S., USA responded on 22 November 2017 at 7:43pm Reply

    Dmitri's beautiful voice was a constant companion to my dear Italian mother (and me), in her waning years suffering from dementia. His voice was one of her greatest joys.
    Her tears and smiles would accompany his
    unparalleled singing. She is now sadly gone. My thoughts go out to his family...

    • Claudia B responded on 24 November 2017 at 1:27am

      Spent the afternoon with my 96-year-old mother who suffers from dementia listening to his glorious music, as we have for many years. She said today with great emotion that she hoped people wrote to Dmitri to tell him how special he was. I reminded her that she told him in person many years ago after a recital in Florida. She was relieved to know this.

  14. Peter Mastin responded on 22 November 2017 at 7:49pm Reply

    Alas Dmitri, a great Verdian baritone of our time. Very sorry to hear this news.

  15. Anna Woda responded on 22 November 2017 at 11:01pm Reply

    Heartbroken at Dmitri’s passing. I have loved his voice since 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World and followed his career. Honoured to see him in ROH several times and lastly in Vienna in Simon Boccanegra. A magical voice and a magical performer even through illness. My heart goes out to his family and friends. Such an early and great loss.

  16. Reigna Vittoria responded on 22 November 2017 at 11:28pm Reply

    The world has lost the greatest baritone that ever lived. His voice and beautiful smile will be greatly missed. His opera roles were outstanding and his Russian romance repertoire is out of this world and he inspired me to sing in Russian.
    This is a devastating blow to everyone.
    Deepest condolences to his family.
    Dmitri hvorostovsky is a legend!!!!

  17. Michael j maloneu responded on 22 November 2017 at 11:36pm Reply

    Great singer irreplaceable

  18. Maria Field responded on 23 November 2017 at 12:17am Reply

    Devastated by the news, dmitri is indeed the greatest baritone that ever lived and will live on in our hearts and through all his amazing recordings . Dmitri filled our ears and hearts

  19. Maria Field responded on 23 November 2017 at 12:29am Reply

    With love.
    The opera world has lost its King.
    I am so greatful that dmitri gave us so much to remember him by, he will live on in our hearts

  20. deeply moved by his unexpected journey to the Met Gala in May this year. He was announced as a special guest and when he walked on stage, the crowd was overwhelmed with sadness and elation in equal measure. His brave rendering of the Rigoletto aria was brave... and total mastery.

  21. Absolutely heartbreaking. I, too, have been so lucky to hear him many times. His voice had the ability to lift you out of your body and take you somewhere else. He had extraordinary stage presence and his voice was unbelievably beautiful. He was unique. I am so sorry for his family, friends and colleagues.

  22. Dora Waes responded on 23 November 2017 at 10:34am Reply

    I am very sad, he was a marvelous artis, a great bariton .. but I have a lot of very good memories....my condolences to his nearest....

  23. Clare responded on 23 November 2017 at 10:43am Reply

    What a wonderful, wonderful voice he had and unsurpassed stage presence. So brave - a huge loss to opera. What a privilege to have heard Dmitri at the Opera House and in sparkling, charismatic recital at the Barbican. Sincere condolences to his family and colleagues.

  24. Michael Mallinson responded on 23 November 2017 at 11:12am Reply

    Utterly, Absolutely irreplaceable - one of the very greatest

  25. Jill de Sayrah responded on 23 November 2017 at 2:38pm Reply

    I can’t adequately express how sad I am at the terrible loss of Dimitri. His voice was superb, his stagecraft brilliant and his presence on was stage sublime. He is truly irreplaceable. I was privileged to have seen him at the ROH in Onegin and I Pagliacci - I only wish I could have seen him more. The opera world is bereft but greater sympathies go to his family and friends at this devastating time. Jill de Sayrah

  26. John Dakin responded on 23 November 2017 at 5:17pm Reply

    Such a wonderful singer, whom I have only recently had the pleasure and privilege of following, having discovered a YouTube recording with Elina Garanca and Dimitri performing together. I was initially attracted to Elina Garanca not only for her physical beauty and wonderful voice, but Dimitri just “blew me away”. It is devastating that the world has lost such a great talent and lovely person. My thoughts are with his family and friends on this very sad occasion.

  27. Jill Thomas responded on 23 November 2017 at 11:36pm Reply

    A tragic loss of a great voice and at such an early age.
    He was the greatest of baritones and gave so much pleasure to so many.
    Condolences to his family and friends.

  28. TATJANA D.M. responded on 24 November 2017 at 12:36am Reply

    I am very sad.... crying.... I am as well very happy that I had an opportunity to watch him alive at the opening evening on the Ohrid Summer Festival in 2014 in the gorgeous antic theater in Ohrid, R. Macedonia. I still here his gorgeous voice in my years and still have a picture of his remarkable attitude in front of my eyes. RIP. Eternal glory for him.

  29. Diana Malsher responded on 24 November 2017 at 12:14pm Reply

    Remembering a great artist whose singing brought so much joy to so many!

  30. Tatiana B. responded on 24 November 2017 at 12:44pm Reply

    I still cannot believe it, so devastating. Vladimir Pozner, a Russian journalist, said that for him Dmitri's death is a murder of a person full of life. I agree with him, who would have known, life is so short... What a loss... RIP

  31. Miriam responded on 24 November 2017 at 12:46pm Reply

    Like everyone else I am deeply saddened by this news, but consider myself fortunate to have heard him live in a total of 15 opera performances at the ROH and elsewhere, plus several concerts and also operas in the cinema. My first time seeing him live was the Eugene Onegin at the ROH in 1993, which was the first time I ever attended an opera there, and I cannot imagine anyone ever being better than him in this role.

  32. Johannes Reicher responded on 24 November 2017 at 4:42pm Reply

    The best baritone of this world. His voice is immortal.

  33. Jennifer Johnson Osborne responded on 25 November 2017 at 2:51am Reply

    I have been in a state of grief since learning of his death. An opera singer myself , I had the good fortune to meet him on several occcasikns and hear him many times. I always felt like hearing him was like hearing the voice of God himself. No other singer has ever moved me as much as he did and I have heard and even worked with many of the greats. He is and eternal gift to the world. But I am so very, deeply sad, that he left us so soon

  34. May Lim responded on 26 November 2017 at 9:17am Reply

    I have been captivated by his voice and bearing since seeing him in the Met's Eugene Onegin with Renée Fleming, and I am so grateful to have seen him in every production on the ROH stage since 2007. He will be so missed in the years to come.

  35. Stephen responded on 26 November 2017 at 10:52am Reply

    A great loss. I remember a wonderful performance of his as Rodrigo in Don Carlo with the Royal Opera at the Royal Albert Hall at the BBC Proms in 1996. A passionate performance, his voice filled that vast space with ease.

    Outside the thread I know but it has just been announced that Carol Neblett has died. Anyone who was at the opening night of La Fanciulla del West in May 1977 will never forget her radiant and thrilling performance as Minnie. Thankfully a later performance is preserved on DVD.

  36. Stevie responded on 27 November 2017 at 12:15am Reply

    OMG, although I am aware he had been ill, somehow I still didn't see this coming, what an upset and shock for everyone.

  37. Jane Stephen responded on 27 November 2017 at 8:10pm Reply

    This is a singer who truly deserved the title "Singer of the World" which he won in Cardiff in 1989. A beautiful voice that will be sorely missed

  38. Sally Williams responded on 28 November 2017 at 4:12pm Reply

    Only saw him once, live, this year outside Vienna, where friends and I had joined an opera tour. He was performing in an open arena. OK, so his voice was not as it used to be but the character of the man shone through and it is a privilege I would not have missed. As it happens, during the same tour, when heard/saw Bryn Terfel, the Welsh bass/baritone, whom Dmitri beat in the final of Cardiff Singer.

  39. Dr.Dalma Kalogjera responded on 28 November 2017 at 4:35pm Reply

    Dmitri Hvorostovski was a GIANT- large frame, fantastic voice. Charismatic beyond belief!! Possessed a SOUL. No one reflects Russian Soul better than Hvorostovski! I cannot imagine anyone like him in a 1000 years. SVJETLAJA PAMJAT, DMITRI!
    Dalma

  40. Gay McLoughlin responded on 29 November 2017 at 4:16pm Reply

    I was so saddened to learn of the death of Dmitri. His glorious voice may one day be equalled but it will never be surpassed.

    Ar dheis de go raibh a anam dilis

  41. Valeria responded on 30 November 2017 at 4:37am Reply

    What a Loss!!
    One of my best opera experiences was watching Traviata with Dmitri Hvorostovsky at Royal Opera.
    Your voice and your great personality will be missed.

  42. Dr William Evans responded on 1 December 2017 at 4:48pm Reply

    I had somehow failed to learn of this tragic loss to the classical music world 'til catching the closing of BBC radio "Last Words" today, and was truly shocked. My condolences to Mr Hvorostovsky's family. Dr William Evans, Oxford.

  43. Sandy S responded on 3 December 2017 at 11:29pm Reply

    I first saw Dmitri on a TV showcase, and was overwhelmed by his voice and then his appearance. The piece was "My Brothers where Are You?" and the whole performance was extraordinary. I became a FAN and bought several CD's. So sad at his passing. His gorgeous voice will add to God's choir. RIP.

  44. Elizabeth Tebbutt responded on 5 December 2017 at 2:34am Reply

    I was devastated to hear the tragic news. Dimitri Hvorostovsky was an incredible baritone who always had an amazing presence on stage. I was fortunate to have had the privilege of attending his performances on several occasions.
    The opera world has lost a shining star.

  45. John Barnes responded on 5 December 2017 at 8:47am Reply

    Such a huge loss to all those who enjoyed
    his beautiful voice and performances over
    many years. It is hard to believe we have
    lost him and I feel as I did when the death
    of Luciano Pavarotti occurred in 2007.
    Singers such as these will always be
    remembered and their performances and
    personalities treasured. My condolences to all his family and friends

  46. Stuart Essenhigh responded on 6 December 2017 at 1:10pm Reply

    In 1994 I was very fortunate to perform with Dmitri Hvorostovsky and the Gustav Mahler Jugend Orchester.
    After one concert most of the orchestra were relaxing in a bar with Dmitri and Claudio Abbado when Dmitri sang some Russian Folk Songs to us all. That moment has stayed with me ever since and is a very special memory for me.
    How sad that he is no longer with us. A true star!

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