Sound Bites: Bogdan Volkov
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Sound Bites spotlights up-and-coming singers and conductors in the world of opera.

Sound Bites: Bogdan Volkov

A Russian tenor makes his debut this month at the Monnaie.
By F. Paul Driscoll

Sound Bites Bogdan Volkov hdl 619
Photographed in West Palm Beach by Dario Acosta
Grooming by Affan Graber Malik
Sound Bites Bogdan Volkov sm 619
Russian tenor Bogdan Volkov bows in Brussels this month
© Dario Acosta; grooming by Affan Gaber Malik

BOGDAN VOLKOV was not ambitious for a career as a classical singer until he saw the video recording of Maria Callas and Tito Gobbi in Act II of Tosca at Covent Garden. The twenty-nine-year-old tenor remembers it as “a shock—because it opened for me a new world. I had no Italian then, but I knew what Maria was singing to Tito Gobbi. I decided at that moment that this is what I wanted to do. Then I saw films with Mario Lanza, and this was another big explosion of my world—I became sick for opera, I loved it so much. I had been singing since childhood, but not until I was adult did I really find opera.”

Born in eastern Ukraine, Volkov moved to Moscow to join the young artist program at the Bolshoi, where he made his debut as Likov in The Tsar’s Bride. “I was very young and not experienced. My first appearance onstage was the final dress rehearsal—with set, with costumes, with everybody. Fun? I would not say it was fun—it was a nightmare. But I survived, because Maestro Gennady Rozhdestvensky believed in me.”

Volkov has a strikingly virile, clear tenor that is charged with emotion and purpose, whatever he sings. Volkov’s calendar this season included Don Ottavio at Palm Beach Opera in March and an April run at Berlin State Opera as Antonio in Betrothal in a Monastery, conducted by Daniel Barenboim and directed by a favorite colleague, Dmitri Tcherniakov, whose Bolshoi Onegin Volkov cites as “My best production ever.” This month, the tenor is Tsarevitch Gvidon in Tcherniakov’s staging of The Tale of Tsar Saltan in Brussels. Next up are Fenton in Falstaff at the Munich Festival in July and Tamino in LA Opera’s Zauberflöte in November. 

“Mozart needs singers to be intelligent—you can’t sing it all in one dynamic. You can’t fall into passion, like in Verdi. Mozart is completely my composer now, but we’ll see what will be in ten years. But I don’t think about that now—I stopped wasting time dreaming. Ten years ago, I was stupid. The roles I was dreaming about were not for my voice. You should do your best with what you can sing now. If you work only in the future, then when the future comes, you will not recognize it. It is best to live and sing now, in this moment.” spacer 

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