Ukrainian Andrei Bondarenko is one of the most exciting young baritones of today, having worked extensively with Valery Gergiev, Ivor Bolton, Yannik Nézet-Séguin, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Vasily Petrenko, Enrique Mazzola, Kirill Karabits, Teodor Currentzis, Emanuelle Villaume, Michael Sturminger, Omer Meir Wellber , Alain Altinoglou, Daniele Callegari and Mikhail Tatarnikov.
Despite his youth, he has already appeared at Salzburg Festival, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Glyndebourne Festival and Touring Opera, Teatro Colon, Cologne Opera, Sydney Opera House, Perm State Opera and Mariinsky Theatre. He also gave his role debut as Billy in Billy Budd in the first ever production in Russia (Mikhailovsky Theatre, St. Petersburg).
In 2016-17 his engagements include: Pelléas at Scottish and Vilnius City Opera, Onegin at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Dallas Opera, Elisir d’amore at Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, La Bohème at Opernhaus Zürich (where he is a house resident) and Oper Köln. Looking further ahead he will give his debut at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden while continuing his residency at Opernhaus Zurich, where titles will include: Così fan tutte, Elisir d’amore, Don Pasquale, La Boheme, as well as his role debuts as Albert in Werther and Wolfram in Tannhäuser. Andrei will embark on a recital tour of the US and Europe with Gary Matthewman, where venues will include Wigmore Hall London, Carnegie Hall New York and Konzerthaus Vienna.
Andrei has recorded Don Giovanni (title role) and Nozze di Figaro (Conte) for Sony Classics, Rachmaninov songs with Iain Burnside at the Queens Hall in Edinburgh for Delphian Records as well as the highly acclaimed Lieutenant Kijé Suite on the BIS label.
Video & Audio
From The Green Room
Lieutenant Kijé Suite More info
Le Nozze di Figaro More info
Release Date: 01 Feb 14
Andrei Bondarenko: Count Almaviva
Simone Kermes: Countess Almaviva
Christian van Horn: Figaro
Fanie Atonelou: Susanna
Mary-Ellen Nesi: Cherubino
Maria Forsstrom: Marcellina
Nikolai Loskutkin: Bartolo
Krystian Adam: Don Basilio
James Elliot: Don Curzio
Garry Agadzhanian: Antonio
Natalya Kirillova: Barbarina
Rachmaninov Songs More info
TCHAIKOVSKY: Iolanta More info
28 Oct 16 Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin The Dallas OperaMore info
“The evening’s performance received a standing ovation, thanks in no small part to stars Andrei Bondarenko (Eugene Onegin) and Svetlana Aksenova…”
Lacy Ball, Culturemap Dallas
“Andrei Bondarenko, who portrays the opera’s world-weary eponym, has a major career these days. He certainly radiates disengagement here, then rising passion as he sees the now-married Tatyana after five years away. It’s an imposing baritone”
Scott Cantrell, Dallas News
06 Jul 16 Donizetti L'elisir d'amore Oper im Steinbruch St MargarethenMore info
20 Apr 16 Rossini La Cenerentola Cologne OperaMore info
‘Prévu dans le rôle-titre de Billy Budd, Andrei Bondarenko chante ici son premier Rossini. Un rien surpassé par les passages les plus virtuoses, il tire son épingle du jeu grâce à la beauté de son timbre à la couleur tout à fait italienne campant, par ailleurs, un Dandini vaniteux comme il faut.’
Andreas Laska, ResMusica
‘Andrei Bondarenko charmed as Dandini, while he vocally impressed with his stamina and musicality in “Come un’ape ne’ giorni d’aprile”’
David PInedo, Opera Today
17 Jan 16 Donizetti Don Pasquale Opernhaus ZurichMore info
‘The role of the cunning doctor Malatesta was sung compellingly by baritone Andrei Bondarenko. Cool as a cucumber, he pulls off the most appalling lies with the straight face of a mafioso, and his Ox-Cam decorum was well suited to the pivotal role.’
Sarah Batschelet, Bachtrack
03 Nov 15 Giacomo Puccini La Boheme Opernhaus ZurichMore info
“Im Duett mit dem prächtigen Bariton von Andrei Bondarenko”
Katharina von Glasenapp for Schwäbische
“und Andrei Bondarenko ist schlichtweg ein
Super-Marcello: ein in allen Lagen firmer Pracht-Bariton.”
“Eindrücklich der klangschön singende Bariton Andrei
Bondarenko als Maler Marcello.”
I was taken with Ukrainian baritone Andrei Bondarenko, a Cardiff Singer of the
World in 2011. It’s good to see him on a major opera stage.”
“Die Sänger stehen dem hohen Niveau in nichts nach,
drei davon feiern am Opernhaus ihr Debüt. […] und Andrei Bondarenko aus der
Ukraine imponiert als Marcello mit ausgewogenem, sonorem Bariton. “
“Marcello, der vom Ukrainer Andrei Bondarenko mit
grummeligem Charakter und warmem, nuanciertem Bariton ausgestattet wird.”
“Andrei Bondarenko’s Marcello was the finest voice: rounded, mellow, consistently clear.”
28 Aug 15 Tchaikovsky Iolanta OEHMS CLASSICS CDMore info
” In a coup of luxury casting, considering the role’s brevity, Andrei Bondarenko makes for a resplendent Robert, easily the equal of Dmitri Hvorostovsky on Valery Gergiev’s Philips recording.”
Mark Pullinger, Gramophone
“Als Herzog Robert kostet der Bariton Andrei Bondarenko seine effektvolle Arie mit Energie genüsslich aus”
Benjamin Künzel, Klassik.com
‘Baritone Andrei Bondarenko has a flourishing international career; it’s hard to individualize Robert, but Bondarenko’s vocalism is fully satisfying’
David Shengold, Opera News
06 Aug 15 Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro Sydney Opera HouseMore info
10 Apr 15 Tchaikovsky Iolanta The Dallas OperaMore info
‘Yet another well-appointed baritone is supplied by Andrei Bondarenko, as Robert, betrothed to Iolanta but in love with another woman’
Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News
11 Feb 15 Rachmaninov The Bells 11 February 2015 LPO, Royal Festival HallMore info
‘baritone Andrei Bondarenko superbly authoritative in the final poem on funeral bell’
Richard Fairman, Financial Times
07 Feb 15 Rachmaninov Spring Cantata 07 February 2015 LPO, Royal Festival HallMore info
‘…backed by the choir, the fluid and beautifully poised baritone of the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition winner Andrei Bondarenko always made pleasant listening, even when he cried “Kill, kill the betrayer!”’
Geoff Brown, The Arts Desk
16 Jul 14 Prokofiev War and Peace Mariinsky IIMore info“As Natasha and Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, Aida Garifullina and Andrei Bondarenko impress as major new talents, especially the limpid-voiced Garifullina. The reunion of Natasha and the dying Andrei, in which they recount their lost love, is devastating.”
George Loomis for the Financial Times
“However all singing throughout was second to none with heart-rending appeal from superb soprano Aida Garifullina, a fine match for her prince, sung with that rich unique Russian tone by Andrei Bondarenko.”
Maggie Cotton for the Birmingham Post“The young Bolkonsky of Andrei Bondarenko expresses his nobility both through his singing and his acting (…) the scene of his farewell to life with its famous “piti-piti” ostinatos was flawlessly sung.”
“Молодой Болконский Андрея Бондаренко, благороден и в пении, и в манерах. (…). сцену ухода из жизни со знаменитым остинатным «пити-пити» он провёл безупречно.”
Nora Potapova for OperaNews.ru
17 Oct 14 Tchaikovsky Iolanta Cologne PhilharmonieMore info
“Der junge ukrainische Bariton Andrei Bondarenko sang einen großartigen Robert von Burgund. Mit seiner feinen, von angenehmem Schmelz gezeichneten Stimme zeigte er viel Gefühl für die Rolle.”
“ANDREI BONDARENKO war in Köln ihr Partner als Eugen Onegin, eine seiner zentralen Partien. Seinen füllig strömenden Bariton lieh er jetzt dem burgundischen Herzog Robert”
Christoph Zimmermann for Der Neue Merkur
“Andrei Bondarenko gab einen strahlend jugendlichen Herzog Robert.”
Olaf Weiden for Kölnische Rundschau
“Andrei Bondarenko als burgundischer Herzog Robert und Vladislav Sulimsky (…) standen in der vokalen Attacke und raumfüllenden Präsenz nicht nach.”
Stefan Rütter for Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger
18 May 14 Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin GlyndebourneMore info“The Slavonic tones of the principal singers make a significant difference to this Onegin – best of all in the two scenes where Andrei Bondarenko’s Onegin and Ekaterina Scherbachenko’s Tatyana confront each other. Both sing with poise, focus and uncommon elegance: everything is internalised, and we hang on their every word.”“Andrei Bondarenko is perfect for the role of Onegin, and despite a touch of first night nerves which rendered one or two phrases indistinct, he presents Onegin as one dreams of hearing and seeing him – here is the bored, listless dandy, quite insouciant about the simply ghastly necessity of visiting the sick or existing anywhere out of town – the Vronsky figure to the life, and singing for the most part with such allure as to make clear why such a ripe and ready girl as Tatyana would fall so helplessly in love.”
24 Mar 14 Rachmaninov Songs Delphian CDMore info
“The stars are Andrei Bondarenko and Alexander Vinogradov, both young but mature interpreters.”
The Sunday Times
“The baritone Andrei Bondarenko, who won the song prize at Cardiff Singer of the World in 2011, is a delight with his honeyed, even tone and faultless phrasing.”
Andrew Clements for The Guardian
“Andrei Bondarenko won a song prize at the Cardiff Singer of the Year 2011. An extremely fine baritone, his phrasing, dynamics and velvety tone are a delight.”
Stephen Greenbank for MusicWeb International
05 Feb 14 Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro Sony ClassicsMore info
“..but the real stars are Christian van Horn’s darkly handsome-sounding Figaro and Andrei Bondarenko’s superb Count, the only singer here who sings Italian like a native.”
Hugh Canning for the Sunday Times
“Mit ihm … Andrei Bondarenko … gewann Teodor Currentzis einen Conte, dessen stimmliche Statur und sehnige Kraft den nötigen Biss für diese Aufnahme mitbringt.”
Werner Theurich for Der Spiegel
21 Oct 13 Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin Kölner OperMore info
” In der Titelrolle gewinnt Andrei Bondarenko mit klar konturierter Baritonstimme”
Bernhard Hartmann for Kölner Rundschau
“Andrei Bondarenko ist nicht nur der kalte, egoistische Onegin, was in seinem Spiel durchaus glaubhaft gelingt, doch seine Stimme zeigt auch andere Fassetten. Sein wohlklingender Bariton hat eine sehr weiche Seite, die er gekonnt einsetzt, um sich dem Rollenprofil des zerrissenen Onegin zu nähern.”
Miriam Rosenbohm for Opernnetz
“Der ukrainische Bariton Andrei Bondarenko, der in Köln erstmals antritt, hat für den fiesen Onegin eigentlich eine viel zu schöne Stimme – jugendlich unverbraucht mit weicher Fülle und fülliger Höhe –, die einen indes daran erinnert, dass Ästhetizismus und Barbarei ganz gut zusammengehen.”
“Dass das heterogene Konzept im Großen und Ganzen aufgeht, liegt vor allem an den hervorragenden Protagonisten. Andrei Bondarenko ist Onegin. Besonders die Szene, in der er Tatjana auf ihren Liebesbrief antwortet brennt sich ein. Dazu setzt er seinen gesunden, flexiblen Bariton sehr differenziert ein.”
Andreas Falentin for Theater Pur
“Andrei Bondarenkos weicher Bariton ist wie geschaffen, um die innere Verzweiflung des bindungsunfähigen Lebemannes Onegin zu erspüren.”
Bernd Aulich for Recklinghaeuser Zeitung
“Andrei Bondarenko mit makellos balsamischem Bariton.”
Regine Müller for KulturKenner
“Der junge ukrainische Bariton Andrei Bondarenko stellt sich dieser darstellerischen Zumutung – wie verkörpert man überzeugend eine Leerstelle? – , indem er seinem Onegin ein mit Geheimnis dunkel grundiertes Strahlemann-Image verleiht.”
Christian Wildhagen for Frankfurter Allgemeine
“Andrei Bondarenkos warm getönter Bariton besitzt angemessene maskuline Kraft, ohne den lyrischen Ansprüchen der Rolle etwas schuldig zu bleiben.”
Christoph Zimmermann for Der Neue Merker
“Musikalisch überzeugt der Kölner “Onegin” nicht weniger. In der Titelrolle gewinnt Andrei Bondarenko mit Klar konturier Baritonstimme.”
Bernhard Hartmann for Kölnische Rundschau
“Auch Andrei Bondarenko in der Titelpartie läßt wenig gesangliche Wünsche offen. Sein Bariton klingt jedenfalls wie aus einem Guß.”
Martin Freitag for Der Opernfreund
“Wie präzis Hilsdorf innere Zustände szenisch zu repräsentieren versteht, erweist zum Beispiel die entscheidende Begegnung zwischen Tatjana und Onegin: Wie den jungen Andrei Bondarenko bei der Lektüre des Briefes der Überschwang des Bekenntnisses nervt, wie er um pubertäre Gefühlslagen wissend grausam gerecht urteilt, mit einer Mischung von wissender Anteilnahme und der eisigen Klugheit seiner abgebrühten Erfahrungen. Auch Onegin ist ein mehrdimensionaler Charakter – und Bondarenko macht das im Spiel und im Tonfall seines schlanken, gestaltungswilligen Baritons deutlich.”
Werner Haußner for Rivierpassagen
01 Jan 13 Prokofiev CD: Lieutenant Kije Suite Bergen Philharmonic OrchestraMore info
“The recording is unusual in retaining the baritone solos in the Romance and Troika instead of the saxophone usually heard. Despite the brevity of his contributions to this disc BIS have not stinted on quality and have engaged prize winning Ukrainian baritone Andrei Bondarenko. He is particularly enjoyable in the patter-song of the Troika”
Dave Billinge for Musicweb International
“To add to the interest of the recording, in both the ‘Romance’ and the ‘Troika’ we get the less familiar variant featuring a solo baritone part, suavely sung by the up-and-coming Andrei Bondarenko, who won the song prize at Cardiff a few years back.”
Peter J. Rabinowitz for International Record Review
“Einen weiteren Attraktionspunkt dieser Einspielung bildet die ‘Leutnant Kije’-Suite, die hier nicht mit solistischem Saxophon in den Sätzen Nr. 2 und 4 erklingt, sondern in der Fassung mit Bariton. Der junge Russe Andrei Bondarenko zeichnet mit farblicher Differenzierung die grotesken Bilder ebenso eindrücklich nach wie das erstklassige, agile und farbenfrische Orchester.”
“The Lieutenant Kijé suite stands out from a crowded field thanks to Liton’s alert pacing, a heightened awareness of colour and, in those items sung in hte original film, tha participation of promising baritone Andrei Bondarenko in lieu of tenor sax.”
David Gutman for Gramophone
“La Romance et la Trioka de Lieutenant Kijé sont données dans leur version vocale d’origine, bien chantée.”
Patrick Szersnovicz for Diapason
“Litton’s work on detail here is unstinting, and it pays off in the whirling dissolve as Lieutenant Kijé, the solder who never was, is “buried” in the ingeniously score suite. BBC Cardiff Singer ofh the World winner Andrei Bondarenko Graces the alternative versions of the Romance and Troika with line and character.”
Davic Nice for BBC Music Magazine
01 Jun 12 La Boheme Glyndebourne FestivalMore info
“It’s unfortunate that his awkwardness is thrown into stark relief by the relaxed, powerful presence of Andrei Bondarenko as Marcello. It was clear at the 2011 Cardiff Singer of the World (he deservedly ran away with the Song Prize) that he is a wonderfully expressive singer with a thrillingly unforced sound. What you could only guess at in competition was that he can really act.
Unlike Lomeli, Bondarenko never looks like he’s trying and that lack of strain makes him completely engaging. He never indulges in scene-stealing but it’s hard not to prefer watching him and listening to the sheer richness of his lush baritone sound”
David Benedict for The Arts Desk
“But an energetic team effort and some smashing voices, not least Andrei Bondarenko’s Marcello and Nahuel Di Pierro’s Colline.”
Edward Seckerson for the Independent
“The rest of the cast includes the expansively voiced Andrei Bondarenko as Marcello…”
Richard Fairman for Financial times
01 Apr 12 Pelleas et Melisande Mariinsky TheatreMore info
“Pelleas (Andrei Bondarenko) exudes immaturity and youthful innocence, while revealing a sensual potential that creates a tangible tension on stage from his first encounter with Melisande.”
Galina Stolyarova for St. Petersburg Times
01 Oct 11 Don Pasquale Glyndebourne on TourMore info
“Bondarenko, winner of the Song prize at Cardiff this year, has an astonishingly beautiful voice and is on his way to greatness if this is anything to go by. […] Veria and Bondarenko stop the show with their second-act duet.”
Tim Ashley for The Guardian
“But most striking of all is Andrei Bondarenko, winner of the song prize at Cardiff Singer of the World this year. This young Ukrainian baritone, resident at the Mariinsky Opera in St Petersburg, […] an artist in the making. His Malatesta = a vividly impersonated con man = was sung with both seductive charm and a coolly sinister edge. Bondarenko returns to Glyndebourne next summer to sing Marcello in La Bohème: remember his name, as I guess he is going places.”
Rupert Christiansen for the Telegraph
“Andrei Bondarenko’s Dr Malatesta communicates insinuating persuasiveness in a wonderfully rich and even baritone. ”
Michael Church for the Independent
“Vocal and acting standards are both high in a staging that establishes the cleverness and complexity of a piece regularly played merely for laughs. Here Andrei Bondarenko’s suave, cynical Malatesta is a manipulative match for Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Cosi.”
George Hall for the Stage
“Ukrainian baritone Andrei Bondarenko brought swaggering sound to Dr Malatesta and plaudits”
I puritani Sir Riccardo Forth*
Billy Budd title role
Pelléas et Mélisande Pelléas
Don Pasquale Dr. Malatesta
L’elisir d’amore Belcore
Lucia di Lammermoor Lord Enrico Ashton*
Roméo et Juliette Grégorio
I Pagliacci Silvio
L’Orfeo title role*
Cosi fan tutte Guglielmo
Don Giovanni title role
Le nozze di Figaro Il conte
Die Zauberflöte Papageno
La Bohème Marcello
Dido and Aeneas Aeneas
War and Peace Prince Andrei Bolkonsky
Eugene Onegin title role
Pique Dame Yeletsky
Symphony no 8*
*Parts under preparation
Andrei Bondarenko: opera star from Ukraine ready for Marriage of Figaro
MIRIAM COSIC- THE AUSTRALIAN, 1ST AUGUST 2015
The news out of Ukraine has been bleak recently: unstable government, a crashing economy, the annexation of Crimea, civilian deaths in the proxy war with Russia. But Andrei Bondarenko has something positive to say.
A younger generation of musicians — his generation — is working to keep classical music and opera alive in a country where government funding has dwindled and lack of disposable income has cut audience numbers. Food, he points out, has a higher priority than opera. The state opera theatre is moribund, under the total control, Soviet-style, of the director, who controls all productions and casts all roles. Bondarenko estimates it is 30 or 40 years behind the times — unlike in Russia, where opera and classical music are still well funded and up to date, and where new opera theatres and concert halls are being built.
Most of the young musicians pushing this new wave in Ukraine, and the conductors who fly in and out, work free, out of commitment to the art form.
“In my native town there is a girl, a soprano, who organised a small opera festival, which we have never had,” Bondarenko says with enthusiasm. “It was amazing. She invited singers from Georgia, from Italy, to do Tosca in the open air. And people came.”
Bondarenko is in Sydney to sing the role of the Count in David McVicar’s new production of The Marriage of Figaro for Opera Australia. He has been here twice before. In 2011, the year he won the Cardiff Singer of the World competition song prize, he performed in John Malkovich’s equivocally received opera-play The Giacomo Variations. And in 2012 he sang in the Sydney Symphony’s concert version of Ace of Spades, under Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Count Almaviva has become something of a calling card. He has sung it at the Mariinsky in St Petersburg and at the Teatro Real in Madrid, and has recorded it for Sony Classics. And he is only 28.
He likes McVicar’s approach in Sydney. “Usually directors show the comedy in the acting, but here I feel it is about the relationships between the characters. And that is not a comedy at all.” Instead, class relations and the sexual power imbalance are emphasised.
He equivocates when asked if the role is difficult to sing. “Every role has its difficulties,” he says. But he is very aware of the trend to push young, good-looking singers ahead of their vocal capabilities. Don Giovanni, from Mozart’s towering eponymous opera, is a grail that hovers in the distance for him.
“Not many singers think about that,” he says of the care needed in choosing roles. “I don’t know why, because it’s so simple and everybody talks about it. It’s OK if you just want to sing for 10 years and then do something different. But how many singers want to do that?”
There’s another reason he is not ready for Don Giovanni’s towering persona: life experience. “I need a couple more years to do it,” he says a little ruefully.
Bondarenko was born in Kamianets-Podilskyi, in southwestern Ukraine, in 1987. His father was in the Soviet navy, stationed near Crimea. “KGB!” Bondarenko says in a stage whisper, smiling, and it’s not clear whether he’s joking. His father left the navy when the Soviet Union broke up, and has since done a variety of jobs. His mother studied at a cultural institute, but gave it up for full-time mothering and community work when Andrei came along.
There was little classical music in the house when he was growing up, but his family loved the Ukrainian tradition of folk singing, especially after dinner when friends visited. His grandmother and grandfather had particularly fine voices, he says.
At his primary school, children had to learn an instrument and take classes in dance and painting. “From six years old, when I went to school, I knew I would be a musician,” he says. “I started to play saxophone and then, because of the saxophone, I started to really love jazz and played it.”
His voice broke when he was 13 and it was immediately clear he was a fine baritone. At 16, he enrolled in the national music academy in Kiev and studied there for three years.
He still speaks of his teacher, Valeriy Buimister, with reverence. It was Buimister who gave him his love of opera: “It was his fault,” he says with a grin.
From there, he joined the Mariinsky’s young artists program in St Petersburg, run by Larisa Gergieva, sister of the theatre’s formidable music director and friend of President Vladimir Putin, Valery Gergiev.
“The Mariinsky is like another world,” Bondarenko says. “It’s an amazing school with amazing musicians and I was lucky to be there. But it’s hard.” So was professional work in the Mariinsky Theatre, which he started almost immediately.
“It’s like, six performances per day — three stages, morning, afternoon, evening, five orchestras — so you can imagine how many people there are. It’s like a big factory, though I don’t like to use this word about music. When you have a factory, you don’t have soul in the music.”
He blows off a question about how tough Gergiev really is: “He looks scary, doesn’t he?” he says flippantly.
After six years there, and two years after he began travelling to other theatres, he went freelance. His reputation grew quickly.
“Few people are that gifted — both his musical instincts and his dramatic instincts,” says Opera Australia’s music director Lyndon Terracini, a baritone who worked widely across the world when he was younger, and who cast Bondarenko in the role.
Bondarenko is already feeling the strain of international touring. He has lived out of a suitcase for the past six months and admits it can get lonely. He quotes the French conductor Guillaume Tourniaire, also in Sydney for this production.
“He said we’re so lucky to do this job, because we are like doctors for the soul,” Bondarenko says. “So, of course touring is crazy, but it’s the price we pay for this pleasure.”
Read the full interview on the The Australian here
Opera’s young gun Andrei Bondarenko set to shine in The Marriage Of Figaro
ELIZABETH FORTESCUE – THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, 29TH JULY 2015
When Andrei Bondarenko steps on to the Sydney Opera House stage next week as Count Almaviva in Mozart’s The Marriage Of Figaro, the 28-year-old Ukrainian baritone’s performance will be judged in the light of his contact with some of the international operatic world’s big guns.
Bondarenko was born in the beautiful Ukrainian town of Kamenec-Podolsky where he sang traditional folk songs before joining a local chorus school at 13.
“I met my first teacher there,” Bondarenko says. “His name was Uri Balandin. He gave me the love of opera.”
At 16, Bondarenko left to study in Kiev at the Tchaikovsky National Academy of Music under a teacher called Valery Buimister.
Bondarenko got his big break in Kiev, auditioning for the acclaimed musician Larisa Gergieva, sister of conductor Valery Gergiev.
Bondarenko entered Gergieva’s young artists’ program at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg.
“The good thing about young artist program at Mariinsky, you have a possibility to go on stage,” Bondarenko says.
“I studied one year — like only coaching, coaching, coaching — then I did my first Papageno in The Magic Flute in Mariinsky.”
During his time in the Mariinsky ensemble, the role of Almaviva became part of Bondarenko’s repertoire. He also sang Almaviva in Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis’ recording of The Marriage Of Figaro on Sony Classical. Currentzis’ ensemble, MusicAeterna, is known for its extreme attention to artistry. “He has an amazing orchestra and it was a nice time; nice colleagues,” Bondarenko says.
The singer has also performed in three opera productions under the baton of Valery Gergiev.
In 2012, Bondarenko sang for the first time at the Sydney Opera House, under the baton of the legendary Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Bondarenko’s smooth, powerful voice was singled out for mention in subsequent reviews.
The singer says Count Almaviva, with his personal power and roving eye, is a “meaty” role.
“His character is combination of powerful, sexual, and for him it’s really important that everybody recognise that he has the power, nobody else,” he says.
“If you have something like this in the character it’s more interesting to perform than just simple, nice, kind guy.”
When he’s relaxing at home, Bondarenko plays the saxophone. But he dreams of two things — recording a CD of Ukrainian folk songs, and singing in the castle at Kamenec-Podolsky.
“It’s very beautiful, but it’s a long way,” Bondarenko says.
“We have in Ukraine really big culture of singing, actually.”
Bondarenko will share the role of Almaviva with Shane Lowrencev.
Read the interview on the Daily Telegraph website here
New Artist of the Month: Andrei Bondarenko
By Larry L. Lash
September 1, 2010
SALZBURG — Wishes don’t always come true: Andrei Bondarenko never fulfilled his childhood dream of becoming a professional jazz musician. But making his debut at the Salzburger Festspiele at the age of 23 is not such a bad second best.
We met on August 14, four days after his debut. Sitting in a small, quiet courtyard, an oasis nestled in the middle of Salzburg’s bustling festival-time alleys, the young Bondarenko exudes an air of confidence, but also gratitude for, to use his favorite English word, the “amazing” string of events that led him to Salzburg.
Growing up, music was not a part of the Bondarenko household in the small Ukrainian town of Kamenec-Podolsky. Andrei’s father was a sailor in the Black Sea for the Soviet government. “Something like K.G.B.” he says with a devilish grin. “He’s now a businessman.” His mother organizes community events.
But there was no small share of recordings, and by age six Andrei was listening exclusively to jazz. By the following year, he says, “I really knew that I would be a musician.” At his local school, Andrei took up study of the saxophone. He was just ten. “It was almost as big as I was,” he laughs. It wasn’t until age 13, when he joined the local church choir, that he discovered he had passed the boy soprano stage and was a full-fledged baritone.
“I became interested in studying voice. In the beginning, I didn’t want to be an opera singer: I had my saxophone. But my teacher gave me a love for opera and classical music.”
He began a voracious study of singers via a treasure trove of old LPs at his school, but could only obtain recordings of Russian singers. “Atlantov, Mazurok, Pavel Lisitsian – all from the Bolshoi. It was only Russian opera, or if it was an Italian opera it was sung in Russian. This was not good. When I began at conservatory, I listened to a lot of Italian singers: Tagliabue, Bastianini – he was the greatest! – and now Nucci and Bruson. These are the most influential for me.”
I ask about the first opera he ever saw, and Andrei nonchalantly confesses that he was actually in it. “It was in the conservatory at Kiev when I was 16. The other people in my class were 27, 28, 29. We had an opera studio in my first year there, and my first role was very small: Baron Douphol in ‘La traviata.’ I had never seen an opera before.”
In addition to his studies, at conservatory Andrei met his wife, Eleonora Vindau, whom he married eight months ago. “We are very lucky because she is a singer, too, a soprano, and we’re both in the opera studio at the Mariinsky. We’ve sung Papageno and Papagena together there and ‘The Telephone’ from Menotti – in English! – and now she is here at the Young Singers Project.”
After five years of study, Andrei was advised to find an agent and flew to London to audition for the prestigious Askonas Holt. Evamaria Wieser, casting director for the Salzburger Festspiele, was in attendance. He won on both accounts: the agency accepted him as one if its youngest clients and Wieser invited him to Salzburg for the 2009 Young Singers Project, which he accepted on the spot.
In Salzburg, he studied all aspects of singing and stagecraft and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Thomas Quasthoff, whom he great admires. He was assigned to cover Gerald Finley as the Count in “Le nozze di Figaro.” This led to an invitation to make his formal Salzburg debut on Aug. 10, 2010 as Grégorio in Bartlett Sher’s production of “Roméo et Juliette.”
“Bart! He’s really an amazing guy, and so is B.H. [Barry], the fight director. For me it was really amazing because I never had a fight scene in an opera and Bart and B.H. were so easy to work with. Bart could say just one word and tell me what to do, and even though it’s such a small role, he really made Grégorio a person. So it’s great for me to work with them. I hope we will meet again somewhere… maybe at the Met!” he says with a hearty laugh.
“It’s amazing for me to meet Netrebko and work with so many beautiful singers here: Piotr Beczala, Russell Braun – we have such a great cast in ‘Roméo.’ In 2003 when I was in conservatory I saw a video of Hvorostovsky and Netrebko and I thought it would be so good if I would sing with her sometime, and now it’s happened!”
With only a few solo lines, Grégorio is indeed not a role by which to judge a voice, but it did show his strong stage presence and endearing demeanor with his mop of dark blond hair, trim goatee and intense green eyes. I was blown away, however, when I heard him sing “Hai gia vinta la causa,” the Count’s aria from “Le nozze di Figaro,” in the Young Artists’ recital last summer. His lyric baritone, far mature beyond its years, is an instrument of great beauty with rock-solid technique and an innate sense of word coloring. By now he’s an old hand at Tchaikovsky’s worldly Onegin: he sang the complete role in a full production at the conservatory studio when he was 19. Is it his favorite role?
“Yes, I think yes for now. My dream role is funny, but it will never happen: Scarpia. Maybe in 30 years! But now I want to sing a lot of Mozart and Donizetti. Bel canto is such beautiful music, and Mozart is like a doctor for my voice, so I must do this. Furlanetto sang only Mozart until he was 35.”
What’s next? “After Salzburg I will audition for Theater an der Wien, and then at The Mariinsky I have more Papagenos, and then Malatesta [the baritone lead in Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale”] at Glyndebourne. In 2012 I will do Marcello [in “La bohème”] at Glyndebourne.” He also wants to work on his English. “I began to study English in school when I was ten, but after school my English I think is now very bad, so I want to learn when I am meeting people outside of Russia.”
Free time? Hobbies? “I listen to jazz and jazz-rock. I really don’t like pop. To get away from music, I really like to cook a Ukrainian dish for the cast of my performance. It’s a special dish with fish and vegetables – very tasty!”
Andrei’s current role model is Bryn Terfel. “For me, he’s an example of what it’s like to be a good singer, good musician, good actor, and with a big heart and soul. I really want to be a good musician with a heart so big the audience feels this.”
To read this article on the Musical America website please click here
THE SUNDAY TIMES
To read Andrei’s portrait in the Sunday Times please click this link
Andrei Bondarenko, Glyndebourne’s Eugene Onegin: ‘I don’t expect to be an overnight celebrity’
The fast-rising baritone will lend youthful appeal to Pushkin’s man-about-town as Tchaikovsky’s most popular opera hits the Downs
By Mark Valencia • 1 May 2014 • Southeast
Born in 1987 in Kamenez-Podolsky, Ukraine, baritone Andrei Bondarenko trained at the National Tchaikovsky Academy of Music in Kiev, the Kiev Conservatory and the Ukraine National Philharmonic Society. Since 2007 he has been a soloist with the Mariinsky Academy of Young Singers in St Petersburg, where he has performed leading roles in Ariadne auf Naxos, Pelléas et Mélisande, and several of the great Mozart operas, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Bondarenko has recorded for leading labels including Sony Classical and BIS, and has won prizes at numerous vocal competitions, among them the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, where he was awarded the Song Prize. Onegin will be the Ukrainian’s third Glyndebourne role. He previously appeared at the main festival in La bohème (as Marcello) and on tour as Dr Malatesta in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.
You are probably best known in the UK for winning the Song Prize at the 2011 Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Do such prizes help your career?
Of course such an important competition win does help develop your career, but I don’t think that in our operatic world you automatically wake up the next morning as a celebrity. It is something that slowly helps builds your career for you.
Your youthful, heroic baritone is already well known to Glyndebourne audiences through La bohème and Don Pasquale, and now you are back to sing Eugene Onegin. What are the special challenges of this role?
Well I think this role is one of the most difficult roles in Russian music to create an image for the character, and also to sing. Tchaikovsky created a piece that has inspired singers across the world for generations; it is a difficult piece but an absolute honour to sing Eugene Onegin at Glyndebourne in the 80th anniversary.
As the opera unfolds, how do you interpret the remarkable changes in Onegin’s character over time?
As a singer these changes are not easy to interpret or to explain through your character portrayal. Onegin is young man with a difficult character that undergoes significant changes over time; but then Onegin changes his personality like all of us at different points in our lives, and crucially we see here the challenging conditions of the times in which he lived. Life was significantly more difficult then and of course love creates powerful emotions in us all.
Your repertoire is extraordinarily wide-ranging – from the great operas of Mozart and Tchaikovsky to Debussy’s Pelléas and Britten’s Billy Budd. How do you choose your roles?
I think it is very important for a young singer to choose the right repertoire for them as an individual, and Mozart is the best for a singer. These days I have great pleasure playing the roles that are close to my heart and soul, which for a singer is a privilege and a joy.
Now that you are living the hectic life of an international opera star, how do you find time to relax and study new music?
To be honest I do not have a huge amount of time to relax, I hope that in a few years as my career develops I may have a little more time to study and take life slowly, as well as have more time to relax and be with family and friends. As for new repertoire, I spend all of my free time on that, without a doubt!
What future roles are you currently preparing?
My next role will be Prince Andrei in Prokofiev’s War and Peace, and then I will be working on a recording of the title role in Don Giovanni, with Sony Classical, which is very exciting indeed.
Do you maintain musical links with your own country? In what ways?
I always go back to Ukraine to perform, specifically in recitals. And in the future we are planning to organise a small opera festival and stage pieces with Ukrainian and international musicians which is an exciting proposition for me!
I get the impression that song is just as important to you as opera. More so, possibly. Do you approach both art forms in the same way?
Yes, I approach these pieces in the same way. In opera we tell intricate stories to people, and with song, we make sure each and every song tells a different story. Both are wonderfully detailed pieces to work on and both need dedication and commitment.
After Glyndebourne, when will you next be back in the UK?
The next thing for me in UK is the Rachmaninov Spring Cantata with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski conducting. That’ll be in February 2015. It will be a real treat for me as a professional opera singer.
It would be marvellous to see and hear you in Billy Budd here in the UK. Can we hope for that to happen one day?
Oh, it would be so amazing to do it here in the UK where Benjamin Britten has such history. I hope very much that at some time soon I will be able to perform that role, and hope I will not disappoint audiences with my English – which I am still learning!
Eugene Onegin opens at the 2014 Glyndebourne Festival on Sunday 18 May. For further opera coverage, visit WhatsOnStage.com/Opera
To read the article on Whatsonstage.com please clcik here
Andrei Bondarenko: new face
This soft-spoken Ukranian baritone is his own musical man.
By Rupert Christiansen
the Telegraph 12 Oct 2011
Who is he?
A soft-spoken 24-year old Ukrainian baritone who captured all hearts when he won the song prize at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition last June.
What’s his story?
First he was selected by Valery Gergiev’s sister Larissa from the conservatory in Kiev to join her Academy for Young Singers in St Petersburg. Now he’s on track to a major international career.
What brings him here again?
Glyndebourne has snapped him up for two leading roles — this week he sings the scheming Doctor Malatesta in a new production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, and next summer he will return to Glyndebourne Festival as the painter Marcello in La Bohème.
Who does he sound like?
Andrei benefited from study in Kiev with Valery Buimister, who taught him the art of singing German lieder as well as Russian song. Now he admires Bryn Terfel (“a wonderful mix of everything”), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (“for Tchaikovsky and Rakhmaninov”) and Gerald Finley (“for Mozart”), but he is his own musical man, with a distinctively smooth, clean sound and light elegance of style.
And his favourite composer?
At this stage of his career, it must be Mozart. Together with his soprano wife Eleonora Vindau, he has sung Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberflöte in St Petersburg. “And I hope to do a lot more. Only Don Giovanni, not quite yet.”
‘Don Pasquale’ is at Glyndebourne (01273 813813) until Oct 29, then touring until Dec 3
To read this article on the Telegraph website please click here