OperaNews names Dmitri Hvorostovsky’s Verdi: Rigoletto a Critic’s Choice!
“ When Rigoletto makes his entrance jeering at Count Ceprano, Hvorostovsky’s sound is shockingly guttural, with flecks of grit I wouldn’t have imagined as part of his arsenal: he had come a long way from the liquid lyricism of his Prince Yeletsky or Don Giovanni. In the desultory Act II “La rà” passage, the timbre is almost gnarled: the prince of singers here turns into a nutcracker. In the jester’s private moments, though, we hear the Hvorostovsky sound unfiltered, as it were; away from the courtiers, Rigoletto can reveal his true tenderness. We hear in the singing how the hunchback could manage to attract his angelic wife. When he tells Gilda about her mother, or when he entreats Giovanna to protect his daughter, he does it in long, unbroken phrases, as if the sentiments were too urgent to be interrupted by breath. … The final scene in his reading is almost unbearably sad, partly because the singer himself seems to be saying farewell, but also because he has rendered Rigoletto’s tragedy with specificity and power, bringing Verdi’s monumental conception to full, breathing life.
This is, in fact, a compelling Rigoletto all around. The work of the Kaunus City Symphony Orchestra evidences meticulous preparation. Constantine Orbelian’s reading doesn’t quite conjure the smell of greasepaint, but that’s partly because it feels so free of routine…it feels fresh and convincing.
Nadine Sierra sings sweetly and nimbly; the sparkle in her voice conveys Gilda’s naiveté. But she is no simpering soubrette: the tone is round and full. You hear in her singing the resoluteness that will lead the girl to her dreadful fate. … Francesco Demuro’s Duke is a man so enthralled by his own powers of seduction that he can’t help but exercise them. … he makes the Duke so devilishly appealing a figure that you can immediately understand why Gilda succumbs to his wiles. Andrea Mastroni is an unusually youthful-sounding Sparafucile, quite credibly near in age to his beauteous sister. Oksana Volkova’s ripe mezzo makes her Maddalena aurally embody carnality. Baritone Kostas Smoriginas, an unusually fine Monterone, sounds like he could be a plausible Rigoletto himself.”