Ildar Abdrazakov to Release Debut Solo Album
On his debut solo recording - Power Players: Russian Arias for Bass (DE 3456) - Ildar Abdrazakov returns to his Russian roots, celebrating the iconic bass roles that are the hallmark of his homeland's operatic heritage. The new album offers many of the greatest hits of the Russian bass repertoire, with selections by Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Rubinstein, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Borodin, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev that include the famous Act II aria from Prince Igor.
Due for release by Delos early in the new year (international digital release on Jan 7, U.S. physical release on Jan 28, and international physical release on Feb 25), Power Players serves as a fitting companion to Abdrazakov's title role debut in a new production of Prince Igor at the Metropolitan Opera (Feb 6-March 8), which last staged Borodin's masterpiece nearly 100 years ago.
More often than not, Russian operas are about the power of sound, a ringing tone that reaches from Vladivostok to Moscow. Correspondingly, Russian operas afford a number of plum roles to basses and bass-baritones, offering them characters that wield either explicit or subtle control over their fellow characters and the plots at hand. With this album, Ildar Abdrazakov explores not only the dynamics of the Russian sound, but also the dynamics of power in iconic characters who find themselves commanding armies, condemning humanity, or reigning from the throne, and how such power weighs on their hearts, minds, and souls. This embrace of the Russian repertory also marks something of a coming of age for the 37-year-old Abdrazakov, whose voice has only recently developed the requisite maturity and heft to tackle such weighty fare.
Power Players features Abdrazakov's interpretations of such highlights of the genre as Varlaam's Drinking Song and the Coronation Scene from Boris Godunov, "O pole, pole" from Ruslan and Lyudmila, "Lyubvi vsye vozrasti pokorni" from Eugene Onegin, and "Ves' tabar spit" from Aleko, which may heard as a sample track here. The album was recorded with Lithuania's Kaunas City Symphony and Kaunas State Choir under the baton of Constantine Orbelian, whose extensive discography includes collaborations with Sondra Radvanovsky and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, among others.
Abdrazakov makes his first appearances in the monumental title role of Prince Igor when Borodin's defining Russian epic returns to the Met for the first time since 1917. With Gianandrea Noseda on the podium, the Met's new production is by Dmitri Tcherniakov, winner of four Golden Mask awards for Best Direction, and offers a psychological journey through the mind of its conflicted hero with the founding of the Russian nation as its backdrop. Abdrazakov headlines all nine performances, including the one on March 1 that will be transmitted to movie theaters worldwide in the Met's celebrated Live in HD series.
In anticipation of this landmark production, on January 15 the Met presents "Russian Exoticism: From Folk Music to Prince Igor," a special concert at Le Poisson Rouge, where the Russian bass will be joined by soprano Anna Netrebko and his Prince Igor co-stars, mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili and bass Stefan Kocán. Their program will include arias from Prince Igor, selections by other Russian composers influenced by music from the east, and folk songs.
Later this season, the Russian bass may also be seen as Fiesco in Simon Boccanegra at Valencia's Palau des les Arts (March 27-April 9), as the four villains in Les contes d'Hoffmann at the Vienna State Opera (May 23-June 4), and as Banquo in Macbeth - alongside Anna Netrebko, Simon Keenlyside, and Joseph Calleja - at the Munich Opera Festival (June 27-July 1). He also takes part in Berlioz's Messe Solennelle at Vienna's Musikverein (May 10-12), gives a one-night-only concert at the Royal Opera House Muscat (April 24), and teams up with tenor Ramón Vargas for a duo recital at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris (June 11). Earlier this season, Abdrazakov headlined the San Francisco Opera's opening night gala in his staged role debut as Boito's Mefistofele and opened the Rome Opera's season singing de Silva in Ernani under the baton of his longtime friend and mentor, Riccardo Muti. He also joined the renowned Italian conductor for a special Verdi bicentennial performance of Verdi's Requiem with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which was streamed live online around the world.
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