On Friday 11th June, I went to see Dmitri Hvorostovsky (top left) at a song recital at the Wigmore Hall. He was performing a concert dedicated to the great Russian mezzo-soprano Irina Konstantinova Arkhipova (below left), who died on February 11th 2010, a month after her 85th birthday.
Arkhipova will be remembered not just for her beautiful, youthful voice and magnificently long career, but also as a teacher and talent spotter. Almost all big name Russian performers, such as Hvorostovsky, Borodina, Guleghina and Netrebko, were taught by her. She even, in the late 1980's, headed the International Union of Music.
I was expecting much from Hvorostovsky, as I had enjoyed his previous concert with Anna Netrebko at the South Bank, and was interested to see how his voice would work with the acousics of the Wigmore Hall. He did not disappoint! He and his pianist, Ivari Ilja, took us on a mesmerising journey through two of the great Russian composers: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Sergi Rachmaninov.
Many of the opera 'critics' are always ready to point out that Hvorostovsky's voice is not in the 'Heldenbaritone' league, being a smaller voice than someone like, for instance, Bryn Terfel. At the Wigmore Hall, this was not evident, as the size and the acoustic of the Hall allowed his voice to reverberate with considerable force.
My favourites were: 'Again, as before, I am alone', 'No, only the lonely heart', and 'In the silence of the secret night'. The first of these rises to a magnificent G sharp in the third verse, which was secure, well placed and dramatic. The second was a beautiful rendition of this well known song, sometimes known as 'None but the lonely heart'. The third, however, was my favourite. The last note was held so long, and with perfect control, that there was an audible gasp from the audience at its end.
All in all, another triumph for Dmitri, and another well chosen arist by the Wigmore Hall.
The program was as follows:
Again, as before, I am alone
The heroic deed
I opened the window
Don Juan's Serenade
As fair as the day in blaze of noon
Do not sing for me, fair maiden
Oh no, I beg you, do not leave!
A tear trembles
No, only the lonely heart
The fearful moment
When yesterday we met
In the silence of the secret night
He has taken all from me
An excerpt from Musset - Loneliness
Christ is risen
In keeping with the musical theme, I also went to see Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky at the Royal Festival Hall.
It was an interesting night, with dancing and dress-changes from Anna, and the tightest trousers on earth from Dmitri. The singing was first class, with Netrebko’s high notes soaring across the auditorium, and Dmitri’s dark baritone enchanting the crowd.
What caught my eye was the number of young people, and the number of non opera-goers, that were there. Perhaps the glamour of the two soloists drew in a more mixed crowd for the occasion? Who knows – but it was nice to see more people engage with the Opera world.
The Orchestra was fantastic, and the lead cellist seemed to be having a great time! Overall, a slick, well-produced show, full of both glamour and substance, and two encores. I’m glad I went.
My personal favourites for the evening were:
Dvořák’s Song to the Moon (video made by pavelrysavy, see his YouTube channel here)
Wagner’s Abenstern (video made by jesterimb, see his YouTube channel here)
Verdi’s Overture from La forza del destino (video made by pozzil. see pozzil's YouTube channel here)
The full program is listed below:
William Tell Overture – Rossini
‘Abendstern’ (Wolfram’s Aria from Tannhäuser) – Wagner
Cäcilie – Strauss
Rákóczy March (from La damnation de Faust) – Berlioz
‘Avant de quitter ces lieux’ (from Faust) – Gounod
‘Jewel Song’ (from Faust) – Gounod
Intermezzo (from I Pagliacci) – Leoncavallo
‘Nedda! Silvio, a quest’ora’ (from I Pagliacci) – Leoncavallo
La Forza del destino Overture – Verdi
Il bacio – Ardiyi‘Cortigiani vil razza’ (from Rigoletto) – Verdi
Song to the Moon (from Rusalka) – Dvořák
Yeletsky’s Aria (from La Pique Dame) – Tchaikovsky
Polonaise (from Eugene Onegin) – Tchaikovsky
Closing Duet (from Eugene Onegin) – Tchaikovsky