New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
"Ildar Abdrazakov reinforced his status as the most glorious Attila
of today, assuming an enviable place among the illustrious lyric basses to have broached the role in the last fifty years; how could anyone resist that dark, liquid legato, or that honeyed phrasing, which he uses equally effectively to express the doubts that torment the warrior king and the majesty of his power." Diapason, December 2018.
Ildar Abdrazakov tops every casting director's list when it comes to Verdi productions at the world's leading opera houses. Having signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon in October 2017, the Russian bass now releases his first solo album for the label. Offering a compelling programme of the composer's dramatic scenes and arias, Verdi reconvenes the winning team from Abdrazakov's Duets album for DG, placing him again in company with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal. The recording, set for international release on 16 August 2019, confirms why Abdrazakov is rated among the greatest Verdi basses of all time.
The singer chose to record arias from the heart of his Verdi repertoire and this new album includes works from the early and middle years of the composer's career, placing often dark, always complex characters centre stage. Verdi opens with music from Attila, one of Abdrazakov's signature roles, with Rolando Villazón as the slave Uldino. Following a performance of Attila
at Barcelona's Liceu in April 2018, Seen and Heard International concluded that Abdrazakov "is the best possible interpreter of the King of the Huns … a true successor to the great Samuel Ramey".
Other album highlights include Zaccaria's sublime recitative and prayer from Nabucco, Philip II's heart-breaking reflections on the burden of royal power from Don Carlo, the scene and aria from Oberto in which the title character swears to seek revenge, and the fears and forebodings of Banquo's "Come dal ciel precipita" from Macbeth.
Recording Verdi with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and his Orchestre Métropolitain was a joyful occasion for Abdrazakov. "When there's a sense of trust, when the chemistry between the pit and the stage is right, first-class results can come of it," he notes. "And that's precisely what I experience with Yannick."
The Yellow Label has already documented the bass's majestic voice, hailed by the Independent (London) for its "imposing sound, beautiful legato, [and] oodles of finesse". His discography includes two DVDs from New York's Metropolitan Opera: Lucia di Lammermoor (2009) with Anna Netrebko and Prince
Igor (2014), in which he takes the title role. Duets, released in 2017, paired Abdrazakov with Rolando Villazón in such evergreen works as Bizet's "Pearl Fishers Duet", the spine-tingling confrontation between Escamillo and Don José from Carmen, and the Russian song "Ochi chernye".
Ildar Abdrazakov was born in the city of Ufa in the Russian federal republic of Bashkortostan. Drawn to acting as a child while watching his father at work as a film and television director, Abdrazakov had no interest in opera until his older brother, also a singer, showed him a DVD of Verdi's Attila. He instantly fell in love with the composer's music and, at the age of 14, began singing lessons with his brother's teacher, M.G. Murtazina. He joined her class at the Ufa State Institute
of the Arts two years later, and continued his studies with her after joining the Bashkirian Opera and Ballet Theatre. He made his debut at St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre when he was just 22. Breakthrough performances at La Scala in La forza del destino and Macbeth followed. The latter opera was conducted by Riccardo Muti, from whom the young bass learned lasting lessons about performing Verdi. Muti's teacher was Antonino
Votto, who in turn had worked with Arturo Toscanini, who knew Verdi and established new standards of singing his music.
"I'm following in a line of tradition," says Ildar Abdrazakov. The bass has helped lengthen that line since first singing at La Scala in 2001, with a string of critically acclaimed Verdi performances. From the scheming Count Walter's "Il mio sangue" to the inspiring nobility of Zaccaria's "D'Egitto là sui lidi", his latest album presents a masterclass in Verdi singing. "In these operas the challenge often lies in the emotional intensity, in the psychological delineation of character," he notes. "With Verdi it's always a matter of feelings and the soul, of conflicts and people in confrontation."
At the end of June, Abdrazakov sang the role of Ramfis in three concert performances of Aida with the Chicago
Symphony Orchestra under Muti. He will join the conductor again on 13, 15 and 17 August at the Salzburg Festival for performances of Verdi's Requiem with the Wiener Philharmoniker, before returning to New York the following month to play Banquo in a revival of Adrian Noble's staging of Macbeth (with Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth).