Ildar Abdrazakov [ahb-drah-ZAH-koff] has quickly established himself as one of opera’s most sought-after basses. Since making his La Scala debut in 2001 at only 25, the Russian singer has become a mainstay at leading houses worldwide, including New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and Munich’s Bavarian State Opera. His powerful yet refined voice coupled with his compelling stage presence have prompted critics to hail him as a “sensational bass…who has just about everything – imposing sound, beautiful legato, oodles of finesse” (The Independent). Also an active concert artist, he has performed at London’s BBC Proms and at Carnegie Hall, as well as with leading international orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic.
Abdrazakov launches 2013-14 with his staged role debut as the eponymous anti-hero of Boito’s Mefistofele, in which he opens the San Francisco Opera’s new season. Upcoming operatic highlights also include headlining Borodin’s Prince Igor, in the Met’s first new production of the opera since 1917; undertaking the four villains in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann at the Vienna State Opera; and singing Banquo in Verdi’s Macbeth alongside Anna Netrebko, Simon Keenlyside, and Joseph Calleja at the Munich Opera Festival. On the concert stage, the new season sees Abdrazakov join the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev for Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust and Roméo et Juliette in London and Paris; take part in Berlioz’s Missa solemnis with Riccardo Muti and the Vienna Philharmonic; and reunite with Muti at the Chicago Symphony to celebrate the Verdi bicentennial with a reprise of the Italian composer’s Requiem (the bass’s 2010 live recording of the work with Muti and the CSO garnered two Grammy Awards). In addition, Abdrazakov teams up with tenor Ramón Vargas for a recital program at Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées; and in early 2014, Delos release his debut solo recording, an album of Russian opera arias.
Since making his Met debut in 2004 in Don Giovanni under James Levine, the Russian bass has appeared there regularly: in 2008-09 he headlined a new production of Verdi’s Attila, and in 2011-12 he made his role debuts as King Henry VIII in the company’s season-opening production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, and as Dosifei in Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina. Last season, he portrayed the title roles in Met stagings of two Mozart operas: Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni. At La Scala, Abdrazakov joined Muti in concert for the reopening of the theater in 2004-05, and that same season he sang Moses in a production of Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon that was recorded and released on CD and DVD. It was in the same role – in a new production led by Muti – that the bass made his Salzburg Festival debut in 2009, and he has also sung Moses with the Italian maestro in Rome. Abdrazakov first appeared at London’s Royal Opera House in 2009, performing Verdi’s Requiem in concert with Antonio Pappano, and he has since returned there to sing Don Basilio in Rossini’s Barber of Seville.
The title role in The Marriage of Figaro was the vehicle for Abdrazakov’s 1998 house debut at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre. Among his other signature roles are both the title character and Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni; Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust and Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust; Oroveso in Bellini’s Norma; Selim in Rossini’s Turk in Italy, and Assur in his Semiramide. The Russian bass is noted for Verdi roles including Walter in Luisa Miller and the title character in Oberto, as well as Attila and Banquo.
Abdrazakov has appeared with virtually every major opera company in the United States and Europe. Besides those already mentioned, he has sung on the stages of Barcelona’s Teatre Liceu, Madrid’s Teatro Real, Paris’s Opéra Bastille, the San Francisco Opera, the Washington National Opera, and the Los Angeles Opera. On the concert stage, he has given recitals in Russia, Italy, Japan, and the United States, and performed with orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France, the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, and Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Among the noted conductors with whom he has collaborated are Riccardo Muti, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, Gianandrea Noseda, Bernard de Billy, Riccardo Frizza, Riccardo Chailly, and Antonio Pappano.
In addition to his Grammy Award-winning recording of Verdi’s Requiem with Muti and the Chicago Symphony, Abdrazakov has recorded unpublished arias by Rossini with Chailly and the Symphony Orchestra of Milan, Giuseppe Verdi for Decca, and Cherubini’s Mass with Muti and the Bayerischer Rundfunk for EMI Classics. For Chandos, he has recorded Shostakovich’s Suite on Verses of Michelangelo and Rachmaninoff’s The Miserly Knight, both with Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic. The bass’s DVD releases include Moïse et Pharaon from La Scala, Oberto from Bilbao, Norma from Parma, and Lucia di Lammermoor from the Metropolitan Opera. Marking the Verdi bicentennial, May 2013 saw Abdrazakov’s star turn in the title role of Attila immortalized on the Mariinsky label’s first DVD/Blu-ray release; as the New York Times observed, “it was the refinement and clarity of his singing, the Verdian accents, that made him so moving. … Mr. Abdrazakov’s Attila conveyed both the character’s ferocity and inner turmoil.”
Born in 1976 in the city of Ufa, then the capital of the Soviet republic of Bashkiria, Ildar Abdrazakov traces his lineage back to Genghis Khan. His parents were both artists: his mother was a painter, and his late father, a director. He began acting in his father’s stage and film productions at age four, and it was these early experiences that inspired him to pursue a career in the arts. On graduating from the Ufa State Institute of Arts, he joined the Bashkirian Opera and Ballet Theatre. In the late 1990s, he won a string of prestigious vocal competitions: the Moscow Grand Prix named after Irina Arkhipova, the Glinka International Vocal Competition, the Rimsky-Korsakov International Competition, and the International Obrazova competition. His 2000 win at the Maria Callas International Television Competition in Parma thrust him into the international spotlight and led to his debut at La Scala the following year.
Since 2007, Abdrazakov has been an ambassador for the Zegna & Music project, a philanthropic initiative founded in 1997 by Ermenegildo Zegna, to promote music and its values. Abdrazakov’s concert attire is generously provided by the designer.