Ildar Abdrazakov joins conductor Riccardo Muti – his friend and frequent collaborator– to sing Shostakovich's Suite on Verses of Michelangelo Buonarroti with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from tonight, June 14 through June 19.
Abdrazakov (pronounced ahb-drah-ZAH-koff) has sung with Muti on many of the world's most hallowed stages, including those of La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera and the Salzburg Festival, and their 2010 live recording of Verdi's Requiem with the CSO won them Grammy Awards for "Best Classical Album" and "Best Choral Performance." Of the performance that yielded the recording, the Chicago Tribune said: "The discovery of the evening was Ildar Abdrazakov, whose intriguing Slavic bass plumbed the somber depths of his music with real commitment." For those who can't make it to Chicago for any of the three concerts, the Russian bass can be heard singing the Shostakovich song cycle, which the composer considered his sixteenth symphony in all but name, in a 2006 recording for Chandos with Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic.
Before traveling to Chicago, Abdrazakov and Muti join forces at Rome's Teatro dell'Opera (May 25-June 5), where the bass takes on the title role in Verdi's Attila, in a production conducted by the Italian maestro. When interviewed in Opera News, Muti proposed Abdrazakov as "the ideal interpreter of [Attila] for our time." After Abdrazakov's Met appearances in the role, the New York Times seconded that opinion, calling the bass a "young, imposing Attila" with a "sturdy, dark and rich voice" before concluding that "it was the refinement and clarity of his singing, the Verdian accents, that made him so moving."
Abdrazakov began the 2011-12 season at New York's Metropolitan Opera, where he made his role debut as King Henry VIII opposite Anna Netrebko in the company's season-opening production of Donizetti's Anna Bolena. The New York Times praised his "earthy, muscular voice," while Opera magazine admired his ability to "summon up the rougher, darker timbre necessary for the nastier characters in the bass spectrum" even as his voice has a "sweet-toned, lyric sheen ideal for the bel canto repertoire." His other opera engagements last fall included undertaking all four villains in Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann at Milan's Teatro alla Scala, as well as Mustafa in Rossini's Italian Girl in Algiers at the Vienna State Opera. He also made his role debut as Philip II in Verdi's Don Carlo with the Ópera Perú in Lima.
Abdrazakov returned to the Met in February for another role debut, as Dosifei in Mussorgsky's rarely heard epic Khovanshchina. Singing in his native tongue for the first time outside Russia, the Ufa-born bass joined a strong Russian and Georgian cast that included Olga Borodina, with Kirill Petrenko on the podium. Of Abdrazakov's performance, Opera News said that he "accomplished wonders through superb phrasing and dramatic nuance."
In addition to reuniting with Muti for Attila and the Shostakovich, Abdrazakov joins the conductor for Berlioz's Messe solennelle in Salzburg with the Vienna Philharmonic (August 15-17). He sings in Salzburg again in September, performing with the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra as Salieri in Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri.