Bogdan Volkov: I hope that in 15 years there will be many more sensitive and open people in the audience and on stage.

Tenor Bogdan Volkov studied singing at the Glier Institute of Music in Kiev before completing his training at the Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine in 2013. He spent the next two years as a member of the Young Artists Programme at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, where he made a series of role debuts that included the Holy Fool (Boris Godunov), Mozart in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri, Kai in Sergei Banevich’s The Story of Kai and Gerda and Vladimir Igorevich in Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor. In February 2014 he made his debut as Lykov in a new production of Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tsar’s Bride under Gennady Rozhdestvensky. He also sang this role during the Bolshoi’s visits to Austria, to the Hong Kong Arts Festival and to New York’s Lincoln Center Festival. In October 2015 he made his acclaimed debut as Lensky in Dmitri Tcherniakov’s production of Eugene Onegin at the Bolshoi. Bogdan Volkov won the first prize and the audience prize at the 2015 Paris Opera Competition and the second prize at Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition in Guadalajara in 2016. From 2016 to 2018 Bogdan Volkov was a member of the Bolshoi Theatre ensemble, where his roles included Prince Myshkin in Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Idiot and Tsar Berendey in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden. In July 2017 he sang Lensky in concert performances of Eugene Onegin at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and at the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Bogdan Volkov made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Tybalt (Roméo et Juliette) in April 2018. Recent highlights include Don Antonio in Prokofiev’s Betrothal in a Monastery at the Berlin State Opera, Tsarevich Gvidon in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Tale of Tsar Saltan at La Monnaie in Brussels, his role debut as Tom Rakewell (The Rake’s Progress) at the Stanislavski Theatre in Moscow and his house debuts at the Los Angeles Opera as Tamino (Die Zauberflöte) and at the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo as Lensky. He made is Salzburg Festival debut as Ferrando (Così fan tutte) in 2020, at the Vienna State Opera as Lensky, at La Scala, Milan, as Ferrando and at the Teatro Regio in Turin as Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore). Plans include Fenton (Falstaff) in Berlin and New York, Lensky and Nemorino in Vienna, Alfredo (La traviata) in Amsterdam, Nemorino and Don Ottavio in Berlin State opera and and Ferrando in Covent Garden.

Hello, Bogdan! Thank you for accepting our invitation. It’s a pleasure to chat with you. Let’s start from the beginning: when did you decide that you wanted to become an opera singer and who guided your first steps on this path?

From an early age I liked to perform and I always wanted to make music. At the age of 6 I started learning to play the piano, and at 9 I started learning to sing. I am the only musician in my family and my desire to make music was intuitive. After graduating from high school, I already knew that I would receive a professional musical education.  

You debuted as Lensky from Eugene Oneghin in 2015 and since then you have sung it in many prestigious opera houses. Could we say that this role represents that one step that launched you into the top class opera stars?

Lensky is really a special role for me. I started working on this part in college, but as a teenager I still couldn’t express many things technically. Later, when I was an artist of the Young Artist Opera program of the Bolshoi Theatre, I worked with outstanding coaches and conductors, and step by step I began to shape this role. I have won several major competitions, including Operalia 2016, where Lensky has always occupied a special place in my repertoire. Working with director Dmitry Tcherniakov and conductor Alexander Vedernikov helped me to develop and reach a new level of my technical and musical capabilities. But I always discover something new in the musical and dramatic colors of this part and I think I will always be on the lookout.

Whilst studying this role did you have any role models? Who is your ideal Lensky? And who are the opera singers that you listen to in general when you’re looking for inspiration?

When I was studying at a music school, I eagerly listened to Sergei Lemeshev’s recordings, regardless of the fact that I myself would once sing his crown part on stage. Listening to the record I then learned “Eugene Onegin” by heart. Perhaps first impressions are the strongest, and in part his style of performance influenced my interpretation. I really like Lensky performed by the equally brilliant tenor, Nikolai Gedda. I am very impressed with his musical interpretations. I often draw inspiration from listening to Fritz Wunderlich.

Read the entire interview here, in the 5th/2021 issue of OPERA Charm Magazine.

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