9 December 2021
Borodina sang brilliantly and together with Gergiev’s equally melodious and gentle orchestra she formed a magnificent duet. Borodina performed naturally, in her own manner… the image emerged from her sense of confidence, her irresistible nature and her sense of power...
Saint-Saëns’ heroine requires special qualities of timbre and the ability to change the ‘temperature’ of the singing in an instant – from passionate heat to icy cunning. Borodina has all of this, the nobleness and purity of her voice sometimes making those who listen to her Dalila to lose themselves. She is very good indeed – even too good for such a terrible character.
They listened to her magical mezzo-soprano voice as if enchanted. This magnificent voice sounded even, intense and true.
• People's Artist of Russia (2002)
• Recipient of the State Prize of Russia (2006)
• Prize-winner at the All-Union Competition of Opera and Chamber Singing (Perm, 1986, 2nd prize)
• Prize-winner at the XII All-Union Glinka Competition (Baku, 1987, 1st prize)
• Prize-winner at the Intaernational Rosa Ponselle Competition (New York, 1988, Gold Medal)
• Prize-winner at the International Francesc Viñas Competition (Barcelona, 1989, Grand Prix)
• Recipient of St Petersburg's most prestigious theatre prize the Golden Sofit for the role of Lyubasha in the opera The Tsar's Bride (1997)
• Recipient of the Dmitry Shostakovich Prize from the Yuri Bashmet International Charitable Foundation (2000)
Olga Borodina was born and grew up in Leningrad. In 1989 she graduated from the Leningrad State Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire. At music school she studied under Valentina Gagen, and at the conservatoire she was a student of Irina Bogacheva. In 1987 she won the All-Union Glinka Competition and was invited to join the Kirov Opera. The singer's achievements include victories at the International Rosa Ponselle and Francesc Viñas Competitions, which launched her international career.
At the Kirov Theatre Olga Borodina made her debut as Siébel in Gounod's Faust (1988). However, the singer's "calling card" was to be the role of the schismatic Marfa in Musorgsky's Khovanshchina, with which she, as a young opera soloist, was entrusted in 1989 in a revived production by Leonid Baratov as part of a festival commemorating the composer. In that role she later appeared on Mariinsky Opera tours (the Edinburgh and Salzburg Festivals and Covent Garden) as well as in productions by other theatres including the Hamburg Staatsoper (1994, directed by Harry Kupfer) and the Metropolitan Opera (2012, directed by August Everding). The singer's repertoire also includes Musorgsky's operas Boris Godunov and Salammbô. In 1991 in Mérida in Spain she sang in the premiere of a production of Salammbô revised by Vyacheslav Nagovitsin, and the same year she received her first engagement at the Opéra de Paris, making her debut as Marina Mnishek. Borodina has given several performances of Musorgsky's cycle Songs and Dances of Death.
TV broadcasts of the operas Khovanshchina, Boris Godunov (production by Andrei Tarkovsky) and War and Peace (production by Graham Vick, 1991) from the Kirov Theatre as well as audio recordings produced by Philips provided powerful impetus to the singer's career and brought her world renown. From the early 1990s Olga Borodina has worked a great deal in the west. She appears at the most prestigious opera and concert venues; in 1992 she made her debut at Covent Garden, appearing as Dalila in Saint-Saëns' opera Samson et Dalila, in 1993 she made a concert debut at the Teatro alla Scala, in 1995 she appeared at the San Francisco Opera (Rossini's La Cenerentola), in 1997 she sang at the Metropolitan Opera and at the Salzburg Festival (Boris Godunov), in 2013 she made her debut at the Wiener Staatsoper (Aida). Her rare type of voice, a coloratura mezzo-soprano, has been praised in productions of operas including Rossini's La Cenerentola (Covent Garden, the San Francisco Opera) and L'italiana in Algeri (the Metropolitan Opera, the San Francisco Opera). Working outside Russia, the singer perfected her performing technique, studying under some of the most outstanding vocalists. Her repertoire expanded to include roles in Bizet's Carmen, Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur and Ponchielli's La Gioconda.
Olga Borodina also appears in concert programmes. Her stage partners over the years have included Semyon Skigin, Larisa Gergieva, James Levine, Dmitry Yefimov and Vasily Popov.
In 1995 the singer was awarded the title of Honoured Artist of Russia, and in 2002 she was made a People's Artist of Russia. Her performance of the role of Lyubasha in the opera The Tsar's Bride received St Petersburg's Golden Sofit theatre prize. Other awards include the Dmitry Shostakovich Prize, presented by the Yuri Bashmet International Charitable Foundation.
A recording of Verdi's Requiem, made with Borodina and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Riccardo Muti, received two Grammy awards (2010).
In 2013 the singer her a jubilee concert at the State Kremiln Palace in Moscow.
In 2015 Olga Borodina featured on the jury of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Repertoire at the Mariinsky Theatre:
Siébel (Faust, in Russian),
The Countess, Polina, Milovzor (The Queen of Spades),
Konchakovna (Prince Igor),
Olga (Eugene Onegin),
Marina Mnishek (Boris Godunov),
Hélène Bezukhova (War and Peace),
Salammbô (Salammbô, concert performance),
Dalila (Samson et Dalila),
Marguerite (La Damnation de Faust, concert performance),
Angelina (La Cenerentola, concert performance),
Preziosilla (La forza del destino, concert performance),
Lyubasha (The Tsar's Bride, concert performance)
and Princess Eboli (Don Carlo).
In concert performances Olga Borodina has sung romances by Glinka, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, songs by Mahler and de Falla, Musorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death, Ravel's song cycle Shéhérazade, Berlioz' cantata La Mort de Cléopâtre, scenes from Carmen, solo roles in Verdi's Requiem, Rossini's Stabat Mater, Berlioz' symphonie dramatique Roméo et Juliette, Prokofiev's cantata Alexander Nevsky and the oratorio Ivan the Terrible, Stravinsky's La Pulcinella and Mahler's Second Symphony.