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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Carnegie Hall benefit concert planned in honor of late Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Photo: Pavel Antonov)

International concert organization Talents of the World will present a concert honoring late opera star Dmitri Hvorostovsky at Carnegie Hall on April 22.

The concert will feature top vocalists who were friends of the beloved Russian baritone, who succumbed to brain cancer last Nov. 22. Repertoire will include some of his favorite selections from opera and operetta as well as lighter pop music and Russian and gypsy songs.

Hvorostovsky, who graced New York’s Metropolitan Opera house many times in his legendary career, thrilled fans at nearby Carnegie Hall two years ago when he sang a program of Russian and German songs there in the middle of cancer treatment. In fact, accompanied only by his pianist Ivari Ilja, he had to hold on to the piano throughout in order to maintain his balance.

“Carnegie Hall is the best concert hall in the world, and an extraordinary artist deserves an extraordinary place—and star-studded cast—for an event of this magnitude,” says Olga Lisovskaya, director of Talents of the World’s U.S. branch and herself an accomplished soprano who will perform at the concert.

Lisovskaya notes that the headlining international artists who were friends of Hvorostovsky are going out of their way to attend. They include leading mezzo-soprano Nino Surguladze, who performed regularly with Hvorostovsky and appears in the TNT series The Alienist; Bolshoi Theater soloist Veronica Dzhioeva, a soprano who also worked frequently with Hvorostovsky and is also known for her Russian TV film roles; and Metropolitan Opera tenor Raúl Melo, an international performer who likewise sang with Hvorostovsky on numerous occasions.

Talents of the World president and founder David Gvinianidze, a renowned baritone in his own right, will also perform, having sung with Hvorostovsky at Moscow’s New Opera. The other singers on the bill are young baritone Oleksandr Kyreiev, winner of the prestigious Neue Stimmen Voice Competition and a Bolshoi Theater soloist; Italian tenor Giovanni Formisano, who debuted at Carnegie Hall with Talents of the World last year and is known for his interpretations of Neapolitan songs; and South Korean baritone Junhan Choi, who recently took first prize at the Talents of the World International Voice Competition.

Lisovskaya produces the Talents of the World International Competition and has previously sung at Carnegie Hall.

“People know Dmitri Hvorostovsky in New York, but opera and classical music as a whole are experiencing difficult times,” notes Lisovskaya. “As a singer and producer I sense that, and have seen that youngsters don’t even know who Pavarotti was, let alone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. So our mission at Talents of the World is to promote classical music, and through projects like these introduce more and more young people to it.”

Although posthumously hailed by Metropolitan Opera general manager Peter Gelb as as “one of the greatest—and bravest—artists to ever grace this stage,” Hvorostovsky, who was nominated for a Grammy last year for his album Georgy Sviridov: Russia Cast Adrift, was even neglected by the Recording Academy, which at last month’s Grammy Awards show failed to include him in its memorial segment.

But as New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini said, Hvorostovsky was “a favorite of audiences thanks to his alluring voice and heartthrob presence, [who] cut a striking figure, his trim 6-foot-1 frame topped by a mane of prematurely white hair.” Renée Fleming, who often performed with Hvorostovsky, stated, “There have been many beautiful voices, but in my opinion none more beautiful than Dmitri’s.”

Hvorostovsky was 55 when he died. A portion of the proceeds of the April 22 Carnegie Hall concert will benefit organizations that are researching childhood cancer and working with children who are fighting it.

“That’s what Dmitri was doing before he died,” says Lisovskaya. “He would organize many charitable concerts and donate the proceeds to children with serious diseases, especially cancer. He would help cover various needs, from improving children's quality of life to providing them with necessary care while they undergo treatment. He would also invest in research that dealt specifically with children and cancer.”



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