Biographie / biography

… such extraordinary voice production that whispered asides reaching the rafters… a singer of the hugest expressive range whose two scenes were a harrowing depiction of nobility and madness.

Boris Godundov, Kirov Opera at Albert Hall; The Times

The Financial Times hails Vladimir Ognovenko’s performances of the title role in Boris Gudonov as “beyond praise: grand, dignified, and wracked by anguished guilt.” This season, he returns to Opéra de Lyon as Boris in Lady Macbeth of Mtensk after returning to the Metropolitan Opera to reprise the Police Sargeant in the same opera last season. Also last season, he made his debut at the Theater an der Wien as Mamirov in The Enchantress.

The Russian bass made his American operatic debut in San Francisco Opera’s production of War and Peace, and has subsequently appeared there as Varlaam in Boris Godunov and Ruslan and Farlaf in Ruslan and Ludmila. Following his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as the Police Chief inLady Macbeth of Mtsensk, he has returned to the company for Skula in Tcherniakov’s new production of Price Igor and Ivan Yakovlevich in the Kentridge production of The Nose, Dikoy in Katya Kabanova, the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo, Gremin in Eugene Onegin, Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Ivan Khovansky in Khovanshchina, Boris in Lady Macbeth of Mtensk, Old Prince Bolkonski and Matveev in War and Peace, and Ivan Yakovlevich in The Nose, and the Commandant in From the House of the Dead. He has joined the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Varlaam in Boris Godunov and Houston Grand Opera as Prince Galitsky in Prince Igor and Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia. He also participated in the Kirov Opera Festival at the Metropolitan Opera, singing in productions of Prince Igor, Ruslan and Ludmila, and Betrothal in a Monastery. He also joined the Kirov in the title role in Boris Godunov on tour at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Other recent American appearances include the Commendatore in Don Giovanni with the Seattle Opera and Prokofiev’s Ivan the Terrible with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

His international engagements include Chub in Cherevichki and the General in The Gambler at the Teatro alla Scala; Dikoj in Katya Kabanova, René in Iolanta and Varlaam in Boris Godunov at the Théatre du Châtelet; further performances of Varlaam in Boris Godunov at the Teatro Real; and Burunday in The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh with Nederlandse Opera and the Gran Teatre del Liceu. He has joined the Opéra de Paris for Khovansky in Khovanshchina, Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Don Basilio in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Kutuzov in War and Peace, and Rangoni in Boris Godunov. He has also performed Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 14 with the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Paris and Maestro James Conlon. At the Vienna Staatsoper, he made his debut as the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo and at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari as Prince Vyazemsky inOprichnick. Additional European engagements have taken him to the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Comunale di Bologna and the Maggio Musicale di Firenze for Prince Khovansky in Khovanshchina, Festival Aix-en-Provence and Opéra de Lyon for Ivan Yakovlevich in The Nose, and again to the Gran Teatre del Liceu for the General in The Gambler. Mr. Ognovenko sings often in his native Russia, where recent performances included the title role in Boris Godunov and Khovansky in Khovanshchina with the Kirov at the White Nights Festival in Saint Petersburg.

A graduate of the Ural Conservatory, he joined Maly Theatre of Saint Petersburg in 1984, and in 1989 became a principal bass with the Mariinsky Theatre (the Kirov Opera). In 1996 the bass portrayed Prince Ivan Khovansky in a new staging of Khovanshchina under the baton of Mstislav Rostropovich at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and subsequently became the leading bass of the Bolshoi Theatre. He has also performed in Argentina, Chile, Italy, Finland, Scotland (Edinburgh Festival), Germany, Israel (Jerusalem Festival), France, Greece, Holland, and Japan.

The bass’ recordings include Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Ivan the Terrible in The Maiden of Pskov, Ruslan in Ruslan and Ludmila, Galitsky inPrince Igor, and the Inquisitor in The Fiery Angel. He has two Grammy Awards for the recordings of Prince Igor and Ruslan and Ludmila.

Mr. Ognovenko was awarded the title of “Artist of Merit of the Russian Federation” and the highest mark of achievement, the title of “People’s Artist of Russia.”


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