Ildar Abdrazakov— Biography
Ildar Abdrazakov is one of a small number of singers blessed with the vocal prowess, artistic eloquence and captivating stage presence required to bring the great bass arias of grand opera to life. He has also succeeded in securing his place at the top of the operatic tree at an age when most basses are only beginning to mature. The 41-year-old Russian artist, described by the New York Times as “a bass of elegance and unforced resonance”, is in high demand at the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls. His signature repertoire extends from Mozart’s Figaro and the opera buffa roles of Rossini and Donizetti to the strikingly complex characters of Verdi’s Attila, Oberto and Filippo II. “My beginning is always with the composer,” he observes. “I want to sing what the composer wrote. That is first. Everything starts with the score and is there in the score.”
In August 2017, Ildar Abdrazakov made an acclaimed role debut as Don Alfonso in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia at the Salzburg Festival. The following month saw the release on Deutsche Grammophon of an album of French and Italian opera duets made in company with Rolando Villazón, and the two singers will join forces again in November and December this year for a seven-concert tour, including performances at Prague’s Smetana Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and Vienna’s Konzerthaus.
On 10 October, barely a fortnight after the release of Duets, it was announced that Abdrazakov had signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon – the same day as he launched his 2017–18 season at Paris’s Opéra Bastille, appearing as Philippe II alongside Jonas Kaufmann and Elīna Garanča in Verdi’s Don Carlos. He will go on to assume the title-role in Verdi’s Attila next April in concert performances at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, and is scheduled to make his keenly awaited debut in the title-role of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov for Opéra national de Paris in June 2018.
Deutsche Grammophon has already documented significant landmarks in Abdrazakov’s career. He appeared in the yellow label’s blu-ray and DVD releases of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor with Anna Netrebko (2009) and in the title-role of Borodin’s Prince Igor (2014), both staged at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Abdrazakov will make his first solo album for DG in October 2018, recording Verdi arias with the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Ildar Abdrazakov was born in 1976 in Ufa, then capital of the Soviet Republic of Bashkiria, today known as the Republic of Bashkortostan. His father, a film and television director, recognised young Ildar’s musical ability and sent him to a local music school. The 14-year-old student received his first singing lessons from M.G. Murtazina, who was already teaching his older brother, and joined her class at the Ufa State Institute of the Arts two years later. “I was blessed with a great teacher and I was eager,” he recalls. “These factors both contributed to the fact that I started my career so young.”
Abdrazakov continued his studies with Professor Murtazina after joining the Bashkirian Opera and Ballet Theatre. He made his debut at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg at the age of 20 and gained invaluable early experience with the company. The young bass toured extensively with the Mariinsky Theatre, attracting international attention in 2000 with his debut performance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and his career flourished after he won the Maria Callas International Television Competition later the same year. That victory led to his debut at La Scala, Milan in 2001, as well as to engagements at other prestigious venues. Abdrazakov made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2004 as Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. He has since become a regular guest at the Met, opening the company’s 2011–12 season as Enrico VIII alongside Anna Netrebko in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, and performing everything from Figaro and Don Giovanni to Escamillo, Attila and Méphistophélès. He returns to the Met in December 2017 as Mozart’s Figaro and in February 2018 for Rossini’s Semiramide.
In the 2003/2004 season, Ildar Abdrazakov sang Moses in Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon in a new La Scala production under Riccardo Muti’s direction and joined Muti again for the gala reopening of La Scala in 2004/05. In 2010 he gave his recital debut there with songs by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Liszt, Ravel, among others. Other career highlights include Don Basilio and Filippo II for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; Attila, Figaro, Don Giovanni and the four villains from Les Contes d’Hoffmann for the Mariinsky Theatre; Don Basilio for Paris Opéra and Bavarian State Opera; Méphistophélès (Gounod’s Faust) for Paris Opéra and the Salzburg Festival; Don Giovanni and Mustafà for Vienna State Opera; Filippo II for the Bolshoi Theatre, in Lima and Turin and in concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées; Moses (Moïse et Pharaon) for Marseille Opera; Attila for Opéra de Monte-Carlo; Silva (Verdi’s Ernani) for Rome Opera and the title role of Boito’s Mefistofele for San Francisco Opera.
In addition to his work in the opera house, Ildar Abdrazakov has achieved distinction in the concert hall, his credits including performances at, among others, Carnegie Hall, the Musikverein in Vienna, the BBC Proms and the Salzburg Festival. The live recording of his performance of Verdi’s Requiem with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Riccardo Muti, released on the orchestra’s own label, won the 2011 Grammy® Awards for Best Classical Recording and Best Choral Recording.
Ildar Abdrazakov joined Anna Netrebko, Jonas Kaufmann and Dmitri Hvorostovsky in June 2015 for Summit of the Stars, an open-air concert that drew a capacity audience of 50,000 people to the Königsplatz in Munich. He began work soon after as Artistic Director of the Elena Obraztsova International Academy of Music, launching the new venture in August 2015 with a gala concert in St Petersburg. “It’s both a unique and a very ambitious project,” he notes. “For the first time in Russia, we’re not only creating a system of classical and traditional education, we’re also hoping to establish a lasting link between the generations to share experience between young talents and current stage professionals. I feel a great responsibility and am proud to share my life experience with other musicians and singers.”