Opera star: ‘I want to shoot the audience’

Opera star: ‘I want to shoot the audience’


norman lebrecht

December 03, 2014

There is a reason Dmitri Hvorostovsky gives few interviews. He can usually be trusted to put his foot in it.

Gently grilled by Anna Picard in the Times (paywall), the London-based baritone admits to seeking favours from Vladimir Putin and is coy about politics. The one thing he cannot stand, he confides, is audiences that vent negative feelings.

When I ask him about audiences that boo directors, he mimes picking up a rifle and pulling the trigger: “It’s an abuse. I want to take a gun and shoot them. Because it’s teamwork. Anything that we are talking about in opera is teamwork. You stand together.”

Dmitri, darling, don’t do it. The audience are the ones who pay your wages (along with a few oligarchs we won’t mention). They have a right to express themselves. Don’t shoot before you think. That’s why you need bodyguards back home.

Read the interview. It’s great fun.




  • Flash says:

    Here’s a suggestion: Hvorostovsky should sing Don Giovanni in Warlikowski’s Brussels Production and the audience gets to stand up and pretend-shoot them at the end.

  • Greg Hlatky says:

    If booing is out then applause should be too. Artists have my money and my quiet attention. As far as I’m concerned that’s all they’re going to get.

    • Bob M says:

      Agreed. I’d be far happier if I showed up, played, then left. They get what they want, I get what I want, and the blue marble keeps spinning. I don’t need the gratitude, I don’t have such a fragile ego.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    After Neb, Gergiev, yet another one on the hate roster…

  • Jass says:

    mr. lebrecht, where are your instructions to try to denigrate one of the greatest opera singers coming from? The fact that he is a Russian artist plays a significant role here, I’d say. Can’t you save art from daily politics and current political tensions? One thing you should know (and all other malevolent journalists): Maestro Hvorostovsky is a world’s top artist who has a very loyal and loving public all over the world, and if you didn’t get his humor and his main point about the team work and solidarity with booed authors, that tells more about your intelligence than you should be glad to reveal. And does nothing to damage Maestro’s artistic reputation! Scribblers and hacks are many, Hvorostovsky is one and unique!

  • Laura Donato says:

    A simple suggestion, from one who had one of the few interview Mr Hvorostovsky usually gives: before write, or have an interview, about a person, an artist, for example as Mr Hvorostvsky is, is better know everything about him/her, so you can evit some mistake that could light the common sense of humour, if is an educate person, or his irony. Is better also when you report something was saying for an interview, post the whole phrase, not only some words, commenting them and giving hour opinion not the interviewing person. In this way who reads couldn’t misunderstand, as it seems Mr Lebrecht done, what was the real meaning of the sentences. Anyway Mrs Anna Picard understood at the end Mr Hvorostovsky’s mood, humour and irony, even if the title and the beginning of the article, is quite attacking his status, origin, Country and work, so why put in evidence only a phrase that it was saying in a particular contest and argument?

  • Lilith says:

    Norman,darling, don’t do it never else. The audience are the ones who pay your wages (along with a few russian oligarchs who have part in your english media). They have a right to express themselves. Don’t write before you think. Suddenly you will need few bodyguards in London.

  • Elen says:

    How petty , mr. lebrecht, and disgusting – what a clumsy attempts to denigrate the great talent and to distort the words of sincere person and wonderful artist, beloved by many people. Russian art pulls together the countries and people, bears kindly and is inherently sympathetic and open to all – it is a pity, that commercial and conjunctural interests don’t allow you and mrs. Anna Picard to understand it. It is always easier to hate, then to understand – courage and internal freedom is necessary for this. Dmitri Hvorostovsky is not only a great artist, but a kindly open-hearted personality, his audience knows this, and similar remarks about him cause only a regret concerning the author.

  • Barbara says:

    Wenn man nicht versteht was ein intelligenter Weltstar meint, sollte man seine Klappe halten oder höflich in schlechtem English gesprochen: You are not Mr. Hvosotovsky grown