DVD Review: “Hvorostovsky in Moscow”

Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky‘s commanding presence and colorful voice make the newly released video, Hvorostovsky in Moscow, a “must see” for all opera lovers. Along with the Philharmonia of Russia, conducted by Constantine Orbelian, Hvorostovsky is joined by soprano Sondra Radvanovsky for two selections.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky has a powerful presence, from his voice to his posture. The first selection on this DVD, “Carlo’s aria,” from Guiseppi Verdi’s, Ernani, makes apparent just how perfect Hvorostovsky’s voice is for this genre. He clearly and commandingly delivers the text all the while maintaining a rich, colorful vocal timbre. He transitions smoothly into his upper range with such precision and ease. It is with this agility that he is able to depict even the most intimate of texts reaching each aria’s climaxes with authority and grace.

This concert DVD offers the viewer a better opportunity to see the facial expressions of the soloist; something often lost in a live concert or production depending on where you sit. I particularly appreciate the changes in character Hvorostovsky adopts for “Rodrigo’s aria” in Verdi’s Don Carlo and the reactions he displays in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, Act III, scene I.

Hvorostovsky gives a lovely performance of “Valentin’s aria” from Charles Gounod’s Faust. The beautiful flowing line of melody and heartfelt text are heightened by the richness of Hvorostovsky’s voice. The balance he finds with legato singing and clear declamation is an asset while singing even the most intimate of texts.

Hvorostovsky is joined by American soprano, Sondra Radvanovsky, for two scenes from Verdi operas Un Ballo in Maschera, Act III, scene I and the Confrontation scene from Act IV of Il Trovatore. Her warm yet vibrant timbre is a perfect match for the baritone. This concert is the first collaboration between Hvorostovsky and Radvanovsky and the results are astonishing. Both artists present glorious portrayals of their characters and their fine interaction with one another bring each scene to life.

In the final selection of the concert, the Act IV Confrontation scene from Verdi’s Il Trovatore, there is a moment when both performers kneel: Their emotions at this point are spellbinding! As Leonora, Radvanovsky is able to display the range of her instrument. She effortlessly produces a vibrant high C as she swears herself to the Count and then, in contrast, she hits us with low chest pitches as she threatens him. Hvorostovsky does a fantastic job of earning hatred as the Count. His articulation of “you are mine” made my skin crawl!

Having never performed in Russia, it was interesting to see some of the customs of such a concert. After every aria, adoring fans shower Hvorostovsky with flowers, books and other gifts. As the camera turns to the audience, their adoration of the performer and the vast demographic range of people enjoying the live spectacular are striking.

In the bonus features, there is an interview with the conductor of the Philharmonia of Russia, American-born Constantine Orbelian. His appreciation of Hvorostovsky as an artist is apparent, as Orbelian is very complimentary of Hvorostovsky’s work ethic.

[youtube width=”279″ height=”200″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z82690eUUfw[/youtube]

Orbelian’s orchestra is highly honed and provides a wonderful atmosphere for the arias. Orbelian explains how he had hand picked each member of the orchestra and that this ensemble often performs together for special events. (Particularly for the “Dmitri Hvorostovsky & Friends” concerts that keep the baritone touring in Russia.) Together, the entire ensemble acts as a well-oiled machine.

Overall, this DVD provides a fun hour of entertainment. I would especially recommend it if you enjoyed Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s performance on February 25th in the Metropolitan Opera’s Live Broadcast of Ernani. For further listening, you can also consider purchasing Delos Records “Verdi Opera Scenes.” The CD includes arias and scenes performed by Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sondra Radvanovsky accompanied by the Philharmonia of Russia under the direction of Constantine Orbelian.

Purchase the DVD through Amazon: Hvorostovsky in Moscow

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