In treatment for cancer, Mr. Hvorostovsky surprised the audience at the Met’s 50th-anniversary gala in May, singing Rigoletto’s monologue of rage and shame with impeccable style and booming tone. The ovation before the performance honored his career and courage; the one after was a genuine response to a still vital artist. Z.W.
Here he is in a recital in Moscow a few years ago with his longtime pianist Ivari Ilja, singing Tchaikovsky’s setting of a Russian translation of a Heine poem. This performance is an example to all artists of what it means to blend refinement, directness and sensitivity. A.T.
Verdi, ‘Un Ballo in Maschera’
He brought his burnished sound, and powerful legato, to the role of Count Anckarstrom. Here he is, just last year, singing the character’s aria of betrayal, “Eri tu.” M.C.
Tchaikovsky, ‘The Queen of Spades’
Tchaikovsky’s Prince Yeletsky — and his intense love aria, “Ya vas lyublyu” — was an early calling card for Mr. Hvorostovsky, and was the role of his Met debut in 1995. Here, under the baton of Valery Gergiev, he is effortlessly intense, a wounded aristocrat in presence and sound. Z.W.
Rachmaninoff, ‘She’s as Lovely as the Noon’
His voice steady and calm, yet full of feeling, Mr. Hvorostovsky could put across a love song with rare understatement and meaning. Z.W.
Mozart, ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’
A noted Mozartian early in his career, Mr. Hvorostovsky is here, at the Salzburg Festival in 1995, a potent Count Almaviva, his anger blistering the polished exterior of a nobleman used to getting his way. Z.W.
Mr. Hvorostovsky was a longtime champion of Sviridov (1915-1998), who expressed his independence and Russian heritage through his music, drawing opposition from the Soviet government. The words of the text, by Sergei Yesenin, describe the coming of autumn. One line reads: “Like a monk, with careful steps, the wind tramples the leaves on a rutted road.” But you don’t have to know what the poem is about to be moved by the singing, which combines vocal majesty and crushing sadness. A.T.
Rossini, ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’
This performance, from a Moscow concert in 1990, when Mr. Hvorostovsky was still in his 20s, gives a sense of the playful wit — though never overplayed here — that he is said to have displayed offstage. It also shows that his confidence and charisma were with him from the beginning. Z.W.