Russian opera star Dmitri Hvorostovsky dies aged 55 | Music | DW | 22.11.2017
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Music

Russian opera star Dmitri Hvorostovsky dies aged 55

Nicknamed "the Elvis of opera," the world famous baritone has passed away at the age of 55 after a battle with brain cancer. Hvorostovsky kept giving concerts and recording up through his final months.

The family of Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky announced in a Facebook post on Wednesday that the 55-year-old singer had passed away earlier the same morning near his home in London, surrounded by his family. The world-famous opera star had been suffering from brain cancer for over two years.

"It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Dmitri Hvorostovsky – beloved operatic baritone, husband, father, son, and friend – at age 55," the Facebook post read. "May the warmth of his voice and his spirit always be with us."

Figures in the classical music world expressed their condolences over social media, lamenting the loss of a unique operatic voice as well as a kind person.

"I am devastated and heavy-hearted by the loss of Dmitri Hvorostovsky, a wonderful friend and a beautiful soul gone too soon!" Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu wrote on Facebook, affectionately adding, "Rest in peace, my dear Dimichka!"

Hvorostovsky was famous for dramatic roles including the title figure in Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" and lead characters in Verdi's operas "Don Carlos" and "La traviata" and "Il trovatore." The baritone, recognizable with his shockingly white hair, had graced the stage of major opera houses around the world including New York City's Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna State Opera and the Berlin State Opera.

From heavy metal to opera

Hvorostoksky was born in 1962 in the Siberian city Krasnojarsk in 1962. After singing in a heavy metal band, according to media reports, he made his debut at his home city's opera house in Verdi's "Rigoletto."

In 1989 he achieved international prominence after winning the Cardiff Singer of the World competition in Wales, considered to be one of the most important competitions in the world of classical singing.

After announcing his brain cancer diagnosis in 2015, Hvorostovsky withdrew from many scheduled performances, citing balance issues related to the brain tumor. However, he continued to make concert appearances and recordings, with his last CD release taking place earlier this month.

In September 2017, he made a return appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in one of his staple roles, the Count di Luna in "Il Trovatore." His appearance alongside superstar soprano Anna Netrebko earned strong reviews.

cmb/eg (dpa, EFE)

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