Today, 22 April 2017 the Novosibirsk Opera would like to congratulate Russian National Artist and an outstanding opera singer Vladimir Ognev on his fifty years anniversary. The soloist of the NOVAT’s opera company has exactly fifty parts in his repertoire for this moment and he considers himself to be happy man, stating that the bass vocal opens at full force only at the age of fifty.
“He is a real artist! We have met each other back at the Helikon-Opera – tells Vyacheslav Starodubtsev, the new chief director of NOVAT – at that time I was already impressed by his comprehension of the theatre and the opera in particular. A man might be an amazing artist or a singer, but none can match Vladimir at being a real singing artist, capable of powerful and incredibly honest stage enunciation.”
As a student of Glinka Novosibirsk State Conservatory (Anatoly Jukov studio) he started his stage career at the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. Later, he used to work on many of Russian stages, toured across more than 20 countries and had a part in a movie. He was a soloist at the St. Petersburg State Chamber Music Theatre and after the 1996 Wexford Opera Festival in Ireland he was invited at the Moscow Music Theatre “Helikon-Opera”, where he spent seven years having fifteen parts performed.
“Today, being a guest star at the world’s best stages, Vladimir keeps his loyalty to the grand theatre – the Novosibirsk Opera – noted Vyacheslav Starodubtsev – I’m convinced that this theatre chooses people. I’m happy to work with such brilliant professional and what is not less important, an outstanding creative personality, deeply understanding the art of theatre and having a dynamic attitude to life. I congratulate my friend on his anniversary! I’m sure we will live a happy artistic life.”
At his anniversary’s eve Vladimir Ognev has given a small interview.
- Vladimir, what do you feel approaching your anniversary?
- I feel deeply satisfied with my experience. (laughing)
- They say, there are two types of bass voice – tragic and comic. What is your type?
- Seriocomic. I am a joyful person, but there are tragic moments in life. I may be comic, when it’s required, may be tragic. The vocalists have a joke: “Who is a tenor? – A fool. Then who is a bass? – A fool one octave lower.”
- It is well known, that you have a very rich biography. You have worked at many theatres. Tell us about your repertoire. How many parts have you sung?
- I counted fifty opera roles precisely. Now that’s a coincidence. What will happen when I turn seventy, I wonder… Although, there might be no operas left by that time. (Laughing)
- At what age did the music come into your life?
- My actual artistic life started at thirteen, when I became the head of the school ensemble. At the age of fourteen I started to earn money by playing at dance parties. So I have started to make money at 14- 15 years, and still can’t stop.
- What music have you started with?
- It was rock music of course. My favorite bands of all time are Pink Floyd and Deep Purple. Nowadays people can’t even imagine dancing to that music – they need techno music or something bone-crushing. But I must admit our band was quite successful at that time.
- How did you end up in opera?
- That event may also be called seriocomic. At the age of fourteen, I entered the choir-conducting department at the Novosibirsk Musical College (Murov College now). I was appointed to the group of first tenors, since I got the upper case worked out thanks to the rock music. All went well until the second year, when the vocal lessons started, and Anatoly Galaktionovich Joukov, who would have later become my professor, once told me: “Let’s warm you up, young man. And then warmed me up to the lower case “F”, saying that I had a bass voice. I asked him what a bass voice is. The previously mentioned joke was the answer. This is how I became a bass and I liked it. But I would still spend my holidays at Toguchin, my home town, playing rock with my band. In 1988, after passing the military service at the Siberian dance and sing ensemble I decided to develop my voice and entered the conservatory for the vocal department.
- Did you go straight to the Theatre after graduating from the conservatory?
- I was invited to the theatre when I was on the second year. Officially I work at the theatre since 1992, but in 19991 I was already approved for several performances, Prince of Galich in “Prince Igor” opera for example. It was well appreciated, and in 1992 I became a first soloist in the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Company. Then I took a break to work in St. – Petersburg and in Moscow “Helikon-Opera”. I happened to work as a guest soloist at Musa Jalil Theatre in Tatarstan and of course in the Bolshoi Theatre.
But the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre is my favorite and the most loved one. I always dreamt to work here. Of course the 1990s was a hard time, so after the Irish festival I accepted Dmitry Bertman’s invitation to the Helicon Opera and in 1997 I became a soloist at that theatre. These events played a significant role in my life, because the Helicon Opera is now one of the best director’s theatres. Working with Dmitry Bertman was a huge amplification for my scenic skills. Later on he would say: “We graduate Ognev and then he knows what to do.” Our mutual understanding was already deep at that time. There I have also met Theodor Currentzis, he was working for the first time on the “Sir John Falstaff” opera, where I had the lead part.
I must admit I was always lucky with conductors and directors. I was incredibly lucky to work with the conductors like Jury temirkanov, Vladimir Jurovsky, who was my associate for the rarely staged Meyerbeer’s “L'étoile du nord” and Enrique Mazzola, the matchless conductor of the Rossini repertoire and the incredible opera conductor Alexandre Vedernikov. Actually, there is not so many opera oriented conductors, and I am inexpressibly happy to work now with the best opera conductor of this time – Dmitry Mickailovich Jurovsky.
- I must say, the fortune presented me on my anniversary’ with amazing gifts – Vyacheslav Starodubtsev, one of my favorite young directors was designated for the chief director of our theatre, and Dmitry Jurovsky is a real treasure for the Novosibirsk opera. Maybe it happens because opera is a complicated type of art. Maybe I chose opera because I like to overcome difficulties. Starobubtves is a man, keenly appreciating opera, and he likes to say that opera must help you ascend - I totally agree with him on this matter.
- Are you done with the rock music?
- No. As they say, there are no ex-rockers. Once I remembered the old days – I sang the “Obskaya Volna” biker fest hymn.
- As we know you’re a biker yourself?
- That’s a hobby. I’ve been a fan of bikes since my childhood, when my father put me on the gas tank of his “Ural” bike. Since that time I’ve been into this two-wheel thing.
For the present moment, I must say, that I’m a completely happy man. My voice is gaining its true form. At the age of 50, I finally realized, that bass is a voice of the age. It’s starting to shape now. Anatoly Joukov, my teacher, was right after all – he used to say, “wait for it, they call it “pidbasok” in Ukraine, you’ll have bass at fifty”. I’m also thankful to my tutor, who’s been teaching me for almost nine years, and who kept an eye on me while I was in the army, and thankful to the amazing directors and conductors, that I worked with. In addition, I’d like to thank the present theatre management for their comprehension of what opera is. Because of these people the opera art gets more and more admirers. And now I know for sure, fifty years is just a beginning for the bass voice.
Vladimir Ognev’s next appearance in NOVAT will take place on 29 of April in Vyacheslav Starodubtsev’s performance based on Verdi’s opera “Un Ballo in Maschera”. The beginning is at 19.00. Tickets are available on the website and at the box office of the theatre.