BWW: Russian Tenor Bogdan Volkov Tuned In On His LA Opera Debut in THE MAGIC FLUTE
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's classic THE MAGIC FLUTE opens this week at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Saturday November 16, 2019; under the baton of James Conlon (with Grant Gershon conducting on December 1, 12 and 15). This will be the third LA Opera mounting of 1927 and Barrie Kosky's avant-garde THE MAGIC FLUTE merging animation with live performance. I had the chance to present a few questions to Bodgan Volkov, who's making his Los Angeles Opera debut as Tamino, the prince and current bearer of the magic flute.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Bogdan!
What was the process of landing the role of Tamino in this Los Angeles Opera production of THE MAGIC FLUTE? (Series of auditions? Referrals of an influential opera creative? Past successful working relationship?)
In the summer of 2017, I sang Lensky in EUGENE ONEGIN on a tour of the Bolshoi Theater at the Aix-en-Provence festival, and Maestro Conlon attended that evening. The year before, I had won the Operalia competition. Also the opera world is very close, all theaters and managers are in contact to each other, maybe one of these factors influenced my invitation.
Which aria of THE MAGIC FLUTE do you most look forward to singing?
Although the name of the opera is THE MAGIC FLUTE, and in the second aria Tamino sings about its bewitching sounds; it is the first aria that reveals his romantic character, which is close to me.
If you were to write a letter of recommendation for Tamino, how would you describe Tamino's qualities to a perspective employer?
I think that every employer would be flattered to have a prince work in the office. And every boss dreams of seeing his daughter as a princess.
Which is your first language - Russian or Ukranian?
I have been bilingual since childhood.
With all the travelling and performing you do in various countries, what other languages are you comfortable with?
I speak English and Italian.
Do you find learning a language comes easier while studying the libretto of an opera, as opposed to learning from a language guide?
Yes, I find it easier, especially since knowing English and Italian, you can also understand in French, as some words have much in common.
Have you found any of your many director's approaches much unlike what you've been accustomed to at the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia? Or more similarities than differences?
I worked with various directors, mostly from dramatic theatres, but I did not have any special challenges. The most interesting work was in EUGENE ONEGIN by Dmitri Tcherniakov at the Bolshoi. But the biggest challenge I have ever had was recently, it was also the staging of the Dmitri Tcherniakov's THE TALE OF TSAR SALTAN by N. Rimsky-Korsakov in La Monnaie De Munt on July 2019. I needed to work 100% of my strength, and even open up new reserves of my capabilities. You can find the recording on YouTube. Nowadays, we have many new instruments that integrate into opera. One of such tools is projections, I interacted with them in TSAR SALTAN, THE RAKE'S PROGRESS of Simon McBurney, and now in THE MAGIC FLUTE. This gives more scope for imagination.
What fond/fun memories do you have of your 2018 Metropolitan Opera debut as Tybalt in ROMÉO ET JULIETTE?
The atmosphere of the stage. Energy of the hall.
Which gave you more personal satisfaction - having your name announced as the winner of the 2015 Paris Opera Competition? Or finding out you won the role of Lykov in Bolshoi Theatre's new THE TSAR'S BRIDE, that toured Vienna, Hong Kong and Lincoln Center in 2014?
I can't choose. and I cherish both very much.
Do you have an particular favorite opera and/or composer?
The more new roles I learn, the more operas I like. In fact, my favorite opera is the one I am currently working on or performing.
What was the first opera (and role) you ever learned to sing?
In the opera studio of the conservatory, I sang Alfredo in LA TRAVIATA, it was my first opera role. My debut on the opera stage was Lykov in THE TSAR'S BRIDE.
What older role would you really love to tackle when you reach that character's age range?
I hope to sing Romeo, Faust and Werther in the future.
What is your usual pre-show warm-up routine?
I like to be in silence, to concentrate, to feel that I am connected with my body and consciousness.
Any particular emotions you'd like the Dorothy Chandler audience to walk out with after your curtain call?
I hope everyone will enjoy as much as we do. This is one of the most interesting and fun productions of this opera.
Thank you again, Bogdan! I look forward to hearing your Tamino and the MAGIC FLUTE company.
For ticket availability and show schedule through December 15, 2019; log onto www.laopera.org