Dmitri Hvorostovsky On How to Sing, When to Live Painfully


 I translated this from Russian.

The world-famous and beloved opera singer Dmitri Hvorostovsky came to Russia – took part in a grand gala concert on Palace Square in St. Petersburg and gave a concert in his small homeland in Krasnoyarsk. This concert was postponed several times because of the singer’s illness, but the Krasnoyarsk residents waited faithfully and did not give tickets.

The concert in Krasnoyarsk was postponed several times because of the singer’s illness, but the Krasnoyarsk people waited faithfully and did not give tickets. Press service of the Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic Society.Dmitri Hvorostovsky two years confronts a terrible disease – a brain tumor. But  his breathtakingly beautiful voice, phenomenal energy and a wide smile still fascinate. Although now it can not be overlooked that, every time when entering the stage, the singer does more than possible. But it is obvious that he does not need pannibrate encouragement or consolation. And the public meets Hvorostovsky invariably standing, for a long time without a silent ovation. After the speeches, Dmitri Hvorostovsky gave an exclusive interview to “RG”.

For a long time I had to wait for you in Krasnoyarsk …

Krasnoyarsk is my hometown. I had to come and give a concert. And I came, no matter what. And I was able to address my fellow countrymen, whose love for me is incredible and very dear to my heart. Such a shock, such grandiose feelings, on the verge of human capabilities, I have not experienced for a long time.

But St. Petersburg accepted you with admiration.

Yes, I felt it, but I need Peter to go around. Everything bad happens to me in St. Petersburg. In 2015 and now the “Zusman” was spooky! But all sang well. I listened to Marcelo Alvarez, Veronica Dzhioeva – what a gorgeous voice, like “Rolls-Royce.” It is necessary that she sang in the “Metropolitan” and “Covent Garden.” But in St. Petersburg I was not lucky again. After the concert, I fell, my shoulder hurt. Now two months will have to go around with a bandage.

And how was the faked news about your hospitalization frightened?

I came to Moscow, I went to the Sklifosovsky Institute to make an x-ray. But I did not manage to cross the threshold of the clinic, as my friend Pavel Astakhov, who was with me, said that the news already reported that I was a hospital.

Quickly, “merges” information “Sklif”. And what about the medical mystery and ethics ?!

What ethics! They gave me a head study without my consent. I ask: “Why?”. “We are interested,” they say … And I quickly escaped from there. I’ll move, practice, and in a few days my hand will act. Everything will be OK.

After a pause of four months, you triumphantly returned to the scene at the end of April. In Toronto, you had a phenomenal concert with Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov, and your unannounced appearance in New York at the gala evening on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Metropolitan Opera caused a furore all over the world …

My voice is a part of me, part of the business that I serve. A huge business that saves me today, without which I can not live

 Yes, the concerts were chic. I was pleased with them. And I am glad that I managed to return to the stage. My doctor said to me: “Work, you came to this pleasure and happiness, do not miss it … It’s hard for you – prevail yourself!” I used to ride in a wheelchair. Now I can do it without a stroller …

… In December last year, the next day after the concert, again in St. Petersburg, I was in hospital with a severe pneumonia. Then the concert in Krasnoyarsk, I canceled from the ambulance. I spent a month in the clinic. I WAS VERY ILL. I experienced a serious crisis. Then I even categorically refused to come to my parents, because to see me in this state is impossible to anyone but the wife. My Florance always visited me. I’m already giving a concert, but the process of recovery after this story is not over yet. I still need patience for a few months

And do you have a tan now, Miami or Mediterranean?

London. While I was at home, I drank tea all day, sitting in the garden in the yard. He tortured all his relatives with his tea-drinking.

Do you like living in London?

I really love London. I lived there most of my life. And, unfortunately, today it is difficult for me not to notice that the city has changed very much in recent years. And not for the better. Day and night in small streets that are not well protected, there are only smokers and insecure Arabs. They can do anything. And get up all these monstrous terrorist attacks everywhere: in London, in Germany, in France, in Brussels. The World War has already been declared! But my house is my favorite fortress.

And do you like to lead a home lifestyle?

Sitting at home, I work a lot: vocalize, go in for sports and yoga, because my lungs “killed” this inflammation. But recovery depends primarily on a positive attitude and on the readiness to fight every day through pain, laziness and anything else! If you do not force yourself, the disease will win over you. We must daily, hourly pull themselves out in all possible ways: exercises, children, smiles, love … And grumbling a little bit is also not forbidden … I, of course, have become a little used to the home way of life. But it’s better not to get used to it.

Do the children please you?

Dania’s eldest son recently introduced me to his music. And with my co-author. He now writes no longer bard music, but more like a jazz. They have a studio, a producer. They often perform in clubs, in street format. I can not say that such music is close to me, but it is very modern, quite difficult and interesting. ITunes has a few of their tunes. And I’m glad for that. Sasha, the eldest daughter, she is closer to me. But she now has a hard depresnyak. She is very worried – my mother lost one and a half years ago, my father is ill …

Fortunately, the younger ones still have the opportunity to remain children. Maxim, who turns 14 on July 7, has not yet decided with his professional interests. He is passionate about football, “Barcelona”, Messi. And Nino, she will be ten, sniffing on the move. Everywhere and everything has time – and music is engaged, and dancing. Recently they together, Nina and Maxim, made a portfolio, and they were immediately showered with a variety of proposals – movies, television, advertising, fashion stores and magazines. Behind this process Florance strictly follows, I do not go into details. I’m just happy with their success.

Private concert in London. Then two concerts with Aida Garifullina – in Grafenegg Castle not far from Vienna at the famous music festival and in Sochi on the site of the Cultural Center “Sirius”. I am preparing and very much looking forward to these performances. Now, after every concert that I give in my condition, I’m really happy. The human voice works wonders with us, our souls. When you sing beautifully, in your heart you float above reality.

The Vienna State Opera has officially announced that it is waiting for you in the next season in three Verdi productions – “The Ball-Masquerade” in November, “Othello” in March and May “Rigoletto”.

And with the Metropolitan I already had a contract for Tomsk in the Queen of Spades. And many other agreements were with other theaters. But I refused all the performances. I do not sing more or temporarily, I do not know, in opera. I’d better sing concerts. And in the Vienna Opera, I hope, there will be a concert, which in March was forced to cancel. However, I changed the program. Together with the pianist Ivari Ilya I will perform old Russian romances. My father loves them very much. I want to make him feel good. And I’ll sing a concert at Carnegie Hall. And in Moscow, of course. Only the date should be defined more precisely. Probably, it will happen in December.

And what of the things you did on the opera scene for you personally is the most valuable?

I love Simon Boccanegru, Rodrigo in “Don Carlos” – I’m sure that “Carlos” is the best opera that Verdi was written. Rigoletto is my dear role. I’m glad that I managed to record “Rigoletto”, and it was amazing. I hope that soon there will be a disk for Delos. Remarkable was I and “Eugene Onegin” with a fantastic René Fleming in the “Met.” He was even nominated for the Grammys. A lot of joy came to me and work on the “Demon” with Dima Bertman, his “Helikon” and Misha Tatarnikov. And many other things were beautiful. Now, unfortunately, I can not sing like that …

What is the most important for you now?

I had an amazing career. I continue it. My voice is part of me, part of the work that I serve. A huge business that saves me today, without which I can not live. But in any case, I understand that the best is over: youth, the best voice … What can you do? But I continue to fight with illness and hope. “Hope” for me now is the most vital word! As they say, I’ll still play checkers! My oncologist looks at me like a miracle: “Oh, how alive! Oh, how healthy!” They do not have, except me, such patients – world famous singers who sing everywhere and continue to work in spite of everything. Now I live not past and not future, as I have always been accustomed to. I’m focused on today’s, tomorrow’s day, not to deceive either myself or others. To enjoy life every day and hour, and, like a rainbow, to everything be ready.

Cancer is a strange thing.  Nineteen years ago someone very dear to me was diagnosed with a very rare blood cancer for which there was no cure.  She was given maybe a year or two.  After four years she was told the cancer would not kill her.  That was nineteen years ago.  She’s doing quite well.  My mother feared her sister would go first.  We lost my mother on January 2.  I’ve still not forgiven her for deciding to give up on life and just plain old quit.

When my melanoma was diagnosed 20 years ago, there was hope but no cure.  My prayer was to live long enough for a cure.  There is.  That’s the deal with cancer.  There are cures on the horizon.  You hold on, praying for that day.  I know a heck of a lot of positive stories.

As for Dmitri Hvorostovsky and his family, there are a heck of a lot of people praying.  The Lord is good, and will provide.  A couple years ago I would not have said that with much faith.  I was going through a very pissy period with God.  But, the Lord is good and does sustain. I have learned that the bad things of life are what make – shape us into the people He wants us to be.  As for me, I wish never to go through what I have gone through.  It was the worst thing to happen, and the very best. The Lord allows us to go through the bad times.  I don’t know why.  I did nothing but complain.  I failed my test.  I forgot how to laugh and to be happy.  But, I have learned it was the very best thing.

We are praying.  As for our favorite baritone, now he is going to find out who he is.  He will discover a new dimension to life.  It will never be the same.  But, our lives never are.  I think it is what we make of the ‘after’ and not the ‘before’.  I go back to something I hold on to – and have since I was a freshman in college.  “The Lord loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

Always remember…

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.’
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling-place,
no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honour them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.
Psalm 91