Monday, September 22, 2014

WSJ: "As Met's Fall Season Opens, Booming Basses Take Center Stage"

Ildar Abdrazakov (Julie Platner, The Wall Street Journal)
In opera, tenors are the men falling in love, singing their hearts out and basking in ovations after hitting the high notes.

But operatic basses, with low voices suited to kings, gods and villains, rarely get the girls—or popular attention. Which can lead to some friendly ribbing.

"Tenors always cry like babies," said Ildar Abdrazakov, a bass, who rolls his eyes at all the onstage whining from his artistic frenemies. "Wimps."

On Monday, Mr. Abdrazakov will hit a career milestone: He is the title character in the Metropolitan Opera's season opener, a new production of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro. "

At age 37, the Russian-born Mr. Abdrazakov's relative youth makes his ascent atypical, since the bass voice typically reaches maturity later in life. He has already anchored major productions at the Met, including Verdi's "Attila" and Borodin's "Prince Igor," and he is now marketable enough that he was featured in the Met's advertising for the 2014-15 season.

"Ildar is unusual because he has been singing leading roles for years," said the Met's general manager, Peter Gelb. "With Ildar, you have the new great bass."

There will be plenty of opportunities for comparison, with several other basement-rattling voices featured this season. For the first time since 1984, the Met is presenting a bass in concert: the 50-year-old René Pape, who sings on Sept. 28 in addition to appearing in "Macbeth" and "The Magic Flute." Then in March comes "Don Carlo," which will include two basses: Ferruccio Furlanetto and James Morris, both in their 60s.


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