The Ukranian opera tenor Dmytro Popov might not be someone you will have heard of. Now entering his forth decade and therefore relatively young in opera years, he has spent much of his time outside the UK, singing lead roles in the world’s most prestigious opera houses.
His stupendous vocal abilities were noticed very early on in his career, when aged 23, he was the youngest ever opera artist to be granted the title of ‘Honoured Artist of Ukraine’ where he’s from, and the competition is stiff here. Four years later he was the receiver of a prestigious Placido Domingo Operalia award. In 2013 he landed in London, singing the much coveted role of Rodolfo in Puccini’s Bohème at the Royal Opera House. Opera News describes his voice as being ‘capable of lyrical tenderness, but with top note squillo* that almost buzzes’.
There was a lot excitement at Orchid Classics around his debut recording Hymns of Love and I can see why having listened to Popov myself.
Popov’s voice comes across as mature, rounded and smooth, even when jumping from the low tones (where he’s very comfortable) to those stratospheric high notes. I feared at first that it might indeed be too measured and controlled, but Popov has the knack of making that smooth gear change and then letting it rip when he wants.
In terms of repertoire, you can’t fault the array of opera’s greatest tenor love arias on his album, drawn from Puccini’s Tosca, Manon Lescaut and La Bohème, Bizet’s Carmen right through to Tchaikovsky’s Eugène Onegin and Iolanta. And the list runs on. On this recording we are also treated to the fantastic Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester, Berlin. The musical production is quite faultless with the perfect balance between artist and orchestra.
Popov’s divine interpretation of Bizet’s La Fleur que tu m’avais jetée definitely has the wow factor. Also remarkable is his Russian repertoire for what better than a Ukrainian to interpret Lensky’s ariosa (Eugène Onegin) and Vladimir from Borodin’s Prince Igor.
Having watched a few videos of him performing with top sopranos, he comes across surprisingly as less confident and tentative than they. He is very far from the swaggering, confident tenor you would imagine him to be. But all tenors these days have their own style and of course evolve as their careers progress.
Popov is definitely one to follow but you’ll have to travel to the Met in New York or attend one of Germany’s opera houses in 2021 if you want to see him live.
Highly recommended and definitely one for the Christmas stocking!
* Squillo is the resonant, trumpet-like sound in the voices of opera singers. It is also commonly called “singer’s ring” or “ping”. Squillo enables an essentially lyric tone to be heard over thick orchestrations, e.g. in late Verdi, Puccini and Strauss operas.
Hymns of Love is released by Orchid classics on November 20th 2020