Hvorostovsky’s Surprise Return to the Met Opera

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lennygoran
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Hvorostovsky’s Surprise Return to the Met Opera

Post by lennygoran » Mon May 08, 2017 7:40 pm

Hope the link lets you see the clip! Regards, Len

Watch Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s Surprise Return to the Met Opera

By MICHAEL COOPER MAY 8, 2017


It was a return to the stage that some feared would never happen again.

Last year the beloved Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky withdrew from staged opera — including a run of “Eugene Onegin” performances at the Metropolitan Opera — because of a brain tumor. When it opened without him, the soprano Anna Netrebko and the other members of the cast held white roses during their ovations in tribute.

But Mr. Hvorostovsky made a surprise return to the Met on Sunday night, and his performance became the emotional high point of an all-star gala concert — and the payoff of a plan that had been quietly set in motion less than two weeks earlier.

It was Mr. Hvorostovsky’s success at an April 25 concert in Toronto — where he appeared alongside Ms. Netrebko, his longtime friend — that led Peter Gelb, general manager of the Met, to invite him to appear at the company’s gala celebrating its 50 years at Lincoln Center.

“The concert went very well, and a few days later I spoke with him when he was back in London,” Mr. Gelb said. “He told me that his doctors encouraged him to keep singing, and that every day he had been working out physically and singing every day, and he said he really wanted to come to New York and be part of the gala.”
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But the two men kept it quiet: Mr. Hvorostovsky’s health has been unpredictable, and he was forced to cancel several recitals this year. “We agreed that we would keep it a surprise,” Mr. Gelb said, “just to make sure that he really was going to be well enough to do it.”

No announcement was made, and Mr. Hvorostovsky’s name was not in the programs, though rumors began to swirl in the gossipy opera world. Mr. Gelb asked his production team to prepare a projection of Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” the opera Mr. Hvorostovsky planned to sing a selection from. The orchestra was not told until a last-minute rehearsal on Sunday afternoon — the loudspeaker that summons singers to the stage did not use his name — but when he strode onto the stage for the run-through they applauded him wildly.

Jessica Phillips, a clarinet player, said that even musicians who were not performing the “Rigoletto” aria crowded into the pit to pay their respects. “The orchestra has a lot of love for him,” she said.

The gala audience was not let in on the secret until Mr. Gelb walked onstage on Sunday to make the announcement in the middle of the concert. “It’s my honor to introduce one of the most wonderful and greatest artists, who has defied all the odds and the gods to be here tonight,” he said.


Mr. Hvorostovsky, 54, strode out, squared his feet and bent over, suggesting Rigoletto, the hunchback jester he was playing. Then he sang a searing, poignant “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata.” When it was over the audience cheered him with a long standing ovation, which continued as he blew kisses to the audience and touched his heart in gratitude.

Nearly two years ago Mr. Hvorostovsky, who has appeared at the Met nearly 200 times since his debut in 1995, announced that he had a brain tumor. Since then he has given some memorable performances, but in December he announced that he was withdrawing from all staged opera performances “for the foreseeable future.”

Mr. Hvorostovsky said that balance problems associated with his illness made appearing in full productions impossible, but that he intended to continue making recordings and giving recitals. Later that month Tass reported that he had been hospitalized with pneumonia, and he canceled several recitals planned for Kaliningrad, Russia; Minsk, Belarus; and the Vienna State Opera. (Mr. Hvorostovsky, who was traveling on Monday, declined an interview request.)

“I had been greatly looking forward to these recitals, and it truly pains me to have to withdraw from them,” he said in a statement in February. “However, right now I must follow doctor’s orders and focus on my recovery.”

But since then he has returned to recitals. Next month a recording of “Russia Cast Adrift,” in which he sings a newly orchestrated version of a song cycle by the Russian composer Georgy Sviridov, will be released on Delos; in October the label plans to release a recording of “Rigoletto” featuring Mr. Hvorostovsky in the title role.

Mr. Hvorostovsky appeared on Sunday at the dinner that followed the gala concert, and on Monday morning, before flying back home to London, he spoke with Mr. Gelb.

“He said to me this morning,” Mr. Gelb recalled, “that the performance last night had given him new life, and hope.”



https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/08/arts ... ctionfront

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