Dimitri Hvorostovsky is the newest operatic sensation, a baritone who can really sing in Tchaikovsky & Verdi Arias. Born in Siberia in 1962 and discovered (by the West, at least) last year when he won the BBC’s Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, he took Britain by storm at his December Wigmore Hall debut and then gave a March recital in New York’s Alice Tully Hall. And all on the strength of a few songs and arias; Hvorostovsky isn’t scheduled to make his opera debut until next year in Venice and San Francisco.
The Siberian’s too hot not to cool down, and in fact the debunking has already begun. New York reviewers were frostier than their London counterparts, and there was the usual muttering — seemingly inevitable, whenever any musical phenomenon originating in Britain is under discussion — about ”hype.” Just as usual, they’re wrong: Hvorostovsky is the real thing. The voice is big and rich, but most important, it’s silky smooth. There hasn’t been a baritone who could sing with this combination of force and allure since the young Hermann Prey, and Hvorostovsky is Prey’s superior in the power department. Listen, for example, to Posa’s death scene from Verdi’s Don Carlos; then try something even more familiar, Germont’s ”Di provenza il mar” from La Traviata, to hear Hvorostovsky in his full seductive, lyric splendor.Throw in the other fine work on this disc — including arias from Tchaikovsky’s ”The Queen of Spades” and Mazeppa, as well as Verdi’s Macbeth and Luisa Miller — and you have a debut to treasure. Dmitri Hvorostovsky is a singer who bears watching — and hearing. A