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Volume 15 Issue 6 - March 2010

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The Point of

The Point of Lovely:Sondra RadvanovskyPAMELA MARGLESIt was almost three years ago that soprano Sondra Radvanovskywalked out onto the stage of the Luna Gala at Roy ThomsonHall and sang the Bolero from Verdi’s I vespri Siciliani. Theaudience was enthralled – and puzzled. Who was SondraRadvanovsky, and what was she doing at a gala celebratingCanadian opera singers?“People came up to me asking where I came from,” Radvanovskytold me when I spoke with her in New York City this past January.“I told them that I’ve been living in Oakville for six years.’” I was sittingwith Radvanovsky in a café close to Lincoln Center, where shehad sung the opening performance of Verdi’s Stiffelio with the MetropolitanOpera the previous night. Just down the street was the apartmentshe was staying in with her Canadian husband, Duncan Lear.Radvanovsky hasn’t sung here in Toronto again, in concert orin opera. But that is going to change.On March 20 she is giving a concertin Roy Thomson Hall with baritoneDmitri Hvorostovsky, a frequent andmuch-loved visitor to Toronto. On May8 she sings the Verdi Requiem withthe Grand Philharmonic Choir underHoward Dyck. And next October sheopens the new season of the Canadian Radvanovsky is regarded as theleading Verdi soprano of her generation.Her repertoire is well-stockedwith Verdi operas, including what’s becomeher signature role, Leonora in IlTrovatore, which she has performedsomething like 165 times. Yet she alsosings many other operas, ranging from Eugene Onegin and Rusalkato Cyrano de Bergerac, Manon Lescaut and Susannah, with MariaStuarda and Norma coming up.After living here for nine years, Radvanovsky is still widely referredto as an American singer. Even the COC describes her as “thestunning American soprano” in their brochure for next season. So Istarted our interview by asking her whether she felt Canadian in anysense. Her answer surprised – and delighted – me.Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky as Leonora andbaritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count Di Luna inthe Met’s 2008-09 production of Il Trovatore.Why are you doing a duet from Eugene Onegin, when the rest of theprogramme is mostly Verdi?Radvanovsky: Dmitri had said he wasn’t going to sing Onegin anymore, because he had done enough Onegins in his life. But it hadbeen my dream to sing Onegin with him. So I said, “Fine, thenyou’re doing the closing duet with me.”Would you like to sing more often in the Toronto area?Radvanovsky: I’d love to sing more at home. It’s nice to sleep in yourown bed. I’ve hardly been home since August.I know, because the only way The WholeNote could catch up withyou was for me to come to New York. But that will be changing,since you are finally singing with the Canadian Opera Company.Radvanovsky: Yes, I’m opening theseason with Aida in October. It’smy Toronto opera debut, and it’salso my debut singing the role ofAida. So I’m really, really excited.I’m also going to do a little concertin the COC lunchtime series duringthe Aida run. I’ll be singing with theCOC a lot in the next few years.PHOTO KEN HOWARD/METROPOLITAN OPERAWhy did it take so long?Radvanovsky: I don’t know if RichardBradshaw didn’t like my voice,or what it was. There had even beena possibility for me to step in to theTrovatore that the COC did a fewseasons ago, when they lost the sopranooriginally scheduled. I had just done that exact production, andI was free for at least the first five shows. But he got someone else. Istill don’t know why.Do you find much difference between the States and Canada?Radvanovsky: There’s a different mentality. I prefer the Canadianmentality because Canadians are so much more rooted in Europe,and that for me is very important. I find Canadians more open andliberal. And I really like that.Radvanovsky: I call myself Canadian. I live in Canada. I don’t have aCanadian passport, but I’m a landed immigrant. So Canada really ismy home. I was born and raised in the States, but once I found Canada,it just felt like home to me.Does the fact you’re doing this concert in Toronto mean anythingspecial you?Radvanovsky: Yes, absolutely. I’m so excited. It doesn’t get any betterfor me than singing in Toronto.You’ve been singing with Dmitri Hvorostovsky a great deal in thepast couple of years. I heard you in Trovatore with him in San Francisco,and the rapport between you two was evident. It made thestory even more complicated and dramatic.Radvanovsky: From the minute Dimitri and I sang with each otherthere was chemistry on stage. You can hear it on the duet CD fromour concert in Moscow almost two years ago. That was the first timethat we had sung together. We’re always joking and teasing eachother. He’s like my brother, we get along so well.So you plan to stay in Canada?Radvanovsky: I love Canada. I never want to leave Canada – never.How did you meet your husband?Radvanovsky: Through Michael Schade. My husband and Michaelwent to St. Michael’s Choir School together. I was singing Musettaat the Met and Michael was singing The Magic Flute. He said, “Mybest friend is in town, so let’s go to dinner.” I hesitated. But we haddinner - and Duncan and I were married a year later.Having your husband here with you must make a huge difference inyour life.Radvanovsky: Huge – he travels with me all the time. He’s my rock.The travelling is a really tough part of this job, so it’s great. He’s mybusiness manager. I sing, and he does everything else.Was it difficult for you and your husband to decide where to liveafter you were married?Radvanovsky: During the first year of our marriage I was still living8 WWW.THEWHOLENOTE.COMMarch 1 - April 7, 2010

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