The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Charismatic Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky is dead at 55

November 24, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

The charismatic Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky (below, in a 2006 photo by Richard Termine of The New York Times) had it all.

Most importantly, the great opera singer, concert singer and recitalist possessed a superb voice with wonderful tone and breath control that allowed him to even beat out Bryn Terfel to win Singer of the World at a competition in Cardiff, Wales.

But he also had handsome face and fit beefcake body that made him a believable actor in so many roles and proved a pleasure to watch on stage.

And what about that fabulous mane of prematurely white hair that became his signature?

But on Wednesday, the acclaimed Siberian singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky — who was well on his way to becoming a superstar — lost a two-year bout with brain cancer.

He died at 55 – but not after winning plaudits for unexpected appearances at the Metropolitan Opera (below) and Carnegie Hall even while he was ill.

Here are two obituaries.

The first comes from the Deceptive Cadence blog of National Public Radio (NPR) and features three samples of his singing as well as some memorable interview quotes, including the renowned singer’s unapologetic take on his own sex appeal (below) that landed him in People magazine:

And here is a longer obituary, also with samples, from The New York Times. It includes a lot of background about the singer’s early life and career:

Did you ever see or hear Dmitri Hvorostovsky in person or perhaps in “Live From the Met in HD” broadcasts? (He sings two folk songs in the YouTube memorial video at the bottom.)

And for those of you can judge singers better than The Ear can, what was your opinion of the Russian baritone?

Did you have a favorite role or aria you liked him in?

The Ear wants to know.

Classical music: Meet a new singing and opera star — Jamie Barton, the young American mezzo-soprano who was last week crowned “Singer of the World” at this year’s BBC contest in Cardiff, Wales.

June 29, 2013
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ALERT: It has been a good year for the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO), both artistically and financially. But with the fiscal year deadline of June 30 looming, WYSO is nonetheless falling short of its $97,000 funding goal by $6,655, according to WYSO executive director Bridget Fraser.  This exceptionally worthy organization that builds both musicians (below) and audiences through lifelong learning needs your help. If you can help, in whatever amount, WYSO to meet its goal, please visit the following link and make an on-line donation by the end of Sunday:

wyso violas

By Jacob Stockinger

Think of great voices, of wonderfully musical and resonant voices, and Wales almost always comes to mind.

Remember the poet Dylan Thomas (below), especially when he recited his own poems, or the actor Richard Burton in just about anything but especially in Shakespeare and Anthony Hopkins?

And Wales is also well-known for its group choral singing.

So no surprise, then, that every two years there is a BBC competition in Cardiff, Wales that crowns the Singer of the World.

And the honor can indeed make for international careers. Just ask just past winners and competitors, who are no stars with international reputations and bookings, as Bryn Terfel (below top), Nicole Cabell, Dmitri Hvorotovsky (below bottom), Karita Mattila and Elina Garancia.

bryn terfel

dmitri hvorostovsky

Last week, the overall Singer of the World prize as well as the individual Song Prize went to the 31-year-old American soprano Jamie Barton (below and also in a YouTube interview and performance of Donizetti at the bottom).


Here is a link to a wonderful posting by NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” blog that features background and also audio –video clips.

If you want to know more, here is a link to the singer’s home page:

And here is a link to a story on the BBC:

And here is a story, with a lot of personal details, about Barton winning a Metropolitan Opera debut in auditions in April, while she was pursuing her master’s degree at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, the eighth IU student to be so honored.

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