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.
Politburo (“Political Bureau”)
They listened to her magical mezzo-soprano voice as if enchanted. This magnificent voice sounded even, intense and true.
Sankt-Peterburgskiye vedomosti (“St Petersburg News”)
Having initially created the image of the cruel and imperious elderly Russian countess wrapped in furs, Borodina performed her heartfelt couplet pianissimo and with inner tension, finding lower notes for it that were bewitching with full-sounding colour.
Die Presse, 23 January 2022
Olga Borodina, the grande dame of Russian opera, reveals a subtle and melancholy quality of poetry in the song from Grétry’s Richard Cœur-de-lion.
Kronen Zeitung, 23 January 2022
Olga Borodina with her refined performance culture quietly transformed the Countess’ arietta into an elegiac and mournful song.
Kleine Zeitung, 23 January 2022
• Recipient of the State Prize of Russia (2006)
• People’s Artist of Russia (2002)
• Recipient of the Dmitry Shostakovich Prize from the Yuri Bashmet International Charitable Foundation (2000)
• Recipient of the Golden Sofit, St Petersburg’s most prestigious theatre prize (1997; for the role of Lyubasha in the opera The Tsar’s Bride)
• Prize-winner at the 27th Tenor Viñas Contest (Barcelona, 1989; Grand Prix)
• Prize-winner at the 5th Rosa Ponselle International Competition for the Vocal Arts (New York, 1988; Gold Medal)
• Prize-winner at the 12th All-Union Glinka Competition of Vocalists (Baku, 1987; 1st prize)
• Prize-winner at the All-Union Competition of Opera and Chamber Singing (Perm, 1986; 2nd prize)
Olga Borodina was born and grew up in Leningrad. In 1989 she graduated from the Rimsky-Korsakov Leningrad State Conservatory. At a music school she studied under Valentina Gagen, and at the conservatoire she was a student of Irina Bogacheva.
At the Kirov (Mariinsky) 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 (Edinburgh and Salzburg festivals and Covent Garden) as well as in productions by other theatres including the Staatsoper Hamburg (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 (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 national 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 San Francisco Opera (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 Vienna State Opera (Aida). Her rare type of voice, a coloratura mezzo-soprano, has been praised in productions of operas including Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera) and L’italiana in Algeri (Metropolitan Opera, 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.
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 gave a jubilee concert at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow.
In 2015 Olga Borodina featured on the jury of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition (Moscow – St Petersburg).
In 2022 she performed the role of the Countess in The Queen of Spades conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Vienna State Opera.
Repertoire at the Mariinsky Theatre:
Siébel (Gounod’s 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)
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 oratorio Ivan the Terrible, Stravinsky’s La Pulcinella and Mahler’s Second Symphony.