Rhinegold

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (16 October 1962 – 22 November 2017)

9:39, 22nd November 2017

Dmitri Hvorostovsky has died aged 55 following a battle with cancer.

The Siberian baritone, who was renowned for his Verdi, had been receiving treatment for a brain tumour at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital.

The news was announced on his Facebook page: ‘On behalf of the Hvorostovsky family, it is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Dmitri Hvorostovsky – beloved operatic baritone, husband, father, son, and friend – at age 55. After a two-and-a-half-year battle with brain cancer, he died peacefully this morning, November 22, surrounded by family near his home in London, UK. May the warmth of his voice and his spirit always be with us.’

Born in Siberia in 1962, Hvorostovsky made his operatic debut as Marullo in Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Krasnoyarsk Opera House, and went on to win first prize at the Russian Glinka Competition in 1987 and the Toulouse Singing Competition in 1988.

He came to international prominence after winning the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World competition, beating Bryn Terfel to the main prize. He made his western operatic debut the same year in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades at the Nice Opera, and consolidated his reputation with performances of Eugene Onegin – which would become a signature role – at La Fenice and La traviata at the Lyric Opera of Chicago over the next few years.

The baritone went on to perform with many of the world’s leading opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, London’s Royal Opera House, Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Paris Opéra and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

He also regularly appeared in concert, working with conductors including Claudio Abbado, Valery Gergiev, Bernard Haitink, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Yuri Temirkanov, and in recital with pianist Ivari Ilja.

Hvorostovsky announced in June 2015 that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, cancelling a number of performances over the following months, yet returned to the stage in September for three performances as Count di Luna in Il trovatore at the Metropolitan Opera.

However, December 2016 saw him cancel all forthcoming operatic performances, stating that balance issues were making it ‘extremely difficult’ for him to perform in staged productions. He made his final public appearance at Austria’s Grafenegg Festival in June.

Vienna State Opera director Dominique Meyer said that Hvorostovsky’s death had left ‘a great void’.

Paying tribute to ‘the wonderful way in which he carried himself during this terrible illness’, he continued: ‘He will stay in our memories as an exceptional artist who always gave a hundred percent – and as a person who enriched us with his laughter, his joy, his warm-heartedness, his positive manner and his generosity. ‘

Alan Davey, controller of Radio 3, BBC Proms, and BBC Orchestras and Choirs, praised Hvorostovsky’s ‘expressive depth and musicality’, continuing: ‘He will be missed: we are thankful to have his huge recorded and broadcast legacy so that we can remember the man, his music, and all he gave to the world through his remarkable art. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.’

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