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Hvorostovsky was born in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. He studied at the Krasnoyarsk School of Arts under Yekatherina Yofel and made his debut at Krasnoyarsk Opera House, in the role of Marullo in Rigoletto. He went on to win First Prize at both the Russian Glinka Competition in 1987 and the Toulouse Singing Competition in 1988. Hvorostovsky came to international prominence in 1989 when he won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, beating local favorite Bryn Terfel in the final round. His performance included Handel's "Ombra mai fu" and "Per me giunto...O Carlo ascolta" from Verdi's Don Carlo. His international concert recitals began immediately (London debut, 1989; New York 1990).
His operatic debut in the West was at the Nice Opera in The Queen of Spades (1989). In Italy he debuted at La Fenice as Eugene Onegin, a success that sealed his reputation, and made his American operatic debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (1993) in La traviata.
He has since sung at virtually every major opera house, including the Metropolitan Opera (debut 1995), the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Berlin State Opera, La Scala and the Vienna State Opera. He is especially renowned for his portrayal of the title character in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin; The New York Times described him as "born to play the role."
In 2002, Hvorostovsky performed at the Russian Children's Welfare Society's major fund raiser, the "Petroushka Ball". He is an Honorary Director of the charity. A tall man with a striking head of prematurely silver hair, Hvorostovsky has achieved international acclaim as an opera performer as well as a concert artist. He was cast in People magazine's 50 most beautiful people, a rare occurrence for a classical musician. His high, medium-weight voice has the typical liquid timbre of Russian baritones.
A recital programme of new arrangements of songs from the World War II era, Where Are You My Brothers?, was given in the spring of 2003 in front of an audience of 6,000 at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, and seen on Russian Television by over 90 million viewers. The same programme was performed with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra for survivors of the Siege of Leningrad on 16 January 2004.
In recent years Hvorostovsky's stage repertoire has almost entirely consisted of Verdi operas such as Un ballo in maschera, La traviata and Simon Boccanegra. In 2009 he appeared in Il trovatore in a David McVicar production at the Metropolitan Opera with Sondra Radvanovsky.
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