Dmitri Hvorostovsky stands out above all on this album as a true Verdi baritone: as Posa (Don Carlos), for example, or in Simon Boccanegra in the finale of Act I of Verdis eponymous and all too rarely performed opera. By then, Hvorostovskys cancer was far advanced, and yet, the depth of his characterisation remains as flawless as ever. The climax is his moving aria as Anckarström in the original Swedish version of Un ballo in maschera, in which he fears he has lost the love of his wife. It ends with the bitter-sweet resignation of 'O dolcezze perdute, o speranze damor'. Before that, Hvorostovsky is to be heard in the role of a father convinced of himself and of his own moral standards, Padre Germont (La Traviata), who persuades Violetta (Marina Rebeka) to renounce her beloved Alfredo. The performance is that of November 29, 2016; scarcely a year later, Hvorostovsky succumbed to the cancer with which he had wrestled for so long aged just 55. Here we hear the pitiless rigour with which, despite feigned sympathy, he pronounces the fate of a dying woman and takes from her the best thing she had ever known true love.
1. I puritani, Act I: Ah! per sempre io ti perdei - Bel sogno beato 00:06:57