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Conversation: Daffy Divas

Sassy soprano Sondra Radvanovsky and smoldering Siberian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky—opera’s best friends forever—talk to Rebecca Milzoff.

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It helps that they’re not romantically involved. Still, in the ego-inflated opera world, Radvanovsky and Hvorostovsky are remarkably simpatico, and, what’s more, refreshingly down-to-earth. Devotees of both will no doubt storm Carnegie Hall April 1, their final stop of a North American tour.

How did the two of you meet?
S.R.: He met me first, and I was very un-nice, apparently.
D.H.: I saw Sondra singing in Il Trovatore at the Met, and I was so overwhelmed. I went backstage and showered her with compliments. And she was kind of … cold. I understand. Sometimes you feel your brains, your imagination is still onstage, and you can’t communicate with anyone after the show.
S.R.: Dmitri didn’t know that he was my opera boyfriend! I was completely in love with his voice. I was very shy, so I just said thank you and walked away, because I thought I might start crying. And he thought I hated him!

You two are now close enough to—according to one story—share pants.
S.R.: Dmitri showed up to a photo shoot in jeans, thinking it was just going to be a headshot. Now, Dmitri had a pair of pants I really liked that were my size, which is embarrassing, but there you go, it’s out there. I had brought my tuxedo so I told him to put those pants on. And I swear to you, I have not worn them since, because they look better on him.
D.H.: The length was fine. They were very good to me.

Any other startling secrets you’d like to share?
S.R.: We are both goofballs. Every show of Trovatore, he’s done something to me onstage.
D.H.: Anything, you know, to make her laugh in front of the audience.
S.R.: He blacked out a tooth. He painted a devil the size of a fist on his chest—and right when I’m singing to him, he pulls his shirt open and shows it. I lost it.
D.H.: Eyeballs!
S.R.: Oh, yes, he drew eyeballs on his eyelids. I mean, seriously.

Your fans are quite rabid. Dmitri, you’re on a site called Barihunks, with the nickname “the Siberian Hunky.” Sondra, you have a Canadian wine named after you.
S.R.:
Yes, but Dmitri has a frickin’ planet. You have to understand, he is like Britney Spears in Russia. You are very, very famous.
D.H.: Scientists named the planet after me at the end of the nineties. [Fame] is a bit of a problem. I do not dare walk outside alone in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
S.R.: When we went to Brighton Beach, a lady came up to my husband and asked, “Is that Dmitri Hvorostovsky?” He said yes, and she started weeping and fell to her knees. I kid you not. He is an icon.

Sondra Radvanovsky and Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Carnegie Hall.
April 1.


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