It’s safe to say that baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky was a legend in his own time. He had all the magical qualities it took to be an opera star: charisma, a mane of prematurely silver hair (most opera directors preferred his natural long hair over any wig), a tall, athletic build, intense stage presence, and a passionate sense of drama. Then there was the voice – distinctive, a blend of Italian lyricism and Russian depth with penetrating high notes, that drew audiences in and held them spellbound.
Hvorostovsky’s success was all the more admirable given he lived a teenaged life in street gangs in a small Siberian town, and overcame a hard core drinking problem into his 30s that could have derailed his career. After decades of successful opera, orchestra, and recital appearances, he announced his brain tumour in 2015 and cancelled his engagements to undergo treatment in London, where he had lived for some time. One of his last performances was at the 2017 Met Opera Gala in New York City. The audience recognized the significance of this appearance, and gave him an ovation as soon as he stepped onstage.
Dmitry Hvorostovsky at the 2017 Met Opera gala, singing “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata” (“Courtiers, villa of the damn race”) from Verdi’s Rigoletto.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (“Dima” to friends and family), was born October 16, 1962 in Krasnoyarsk, Soviet Union, and died November 22, 2017, in London, England.