“Kowaljow’s voice is a rich, expressive basso cantante, a powerhouse, with seemingly endless reserves of focused sound throughout the range, whether at full fortissimo or sustained piano”
Praised for the depth and richness of his voice, Vitalij Kowaljow has established himself in the last couple of years as one of leading basses of his generation. Among the more than 40 performed roles are Verdi`s King Philip Don Carlo, Fiesco Simon Boccanegra, Zaccaria Nabucco, Banquo Macbeth, Ramfis Aida, Barbarossa La Battaglia di Legnano, Procida Vespri Siciliani, Padre Guardiano La Forza del Destino, Walter Luisa Miller and the title-role of Attila. Moreover, he has appeared as Kaspar Der Freischütz, Wotan and Der Wanderer in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Mephistopheles Faust, Sarastro Die Zauberflöte, and such Russian language roles as Prince Igor, Pimen Boris Godunov and Prince Gremin Eugene Onegin.
Vitalij Kowaljow was introduced to the U.S. by the Opera Orchestra of New York as Baldassare in La Favorita and has sung since at the Metropolitan, San Francisco, Washington National, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia Opera Companies. He has appeared with various European companies including the Royal Opera House, Bayerische Staatsoper, Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro alla Scala, Arena di Verona and Semperoper Dresden. He made the news when he stepped in at 10 days notice at the Bastille Opera in Paris for an ailing colleague, singing Procida in the new production of the original and seldom performed French version of Les Vêpres Siciliennes under the baton of James Conlon.
Recent highlights of Vitalij Kowaljow's career include his debuts as Giorgio I Puritani at the Vienna Staatsoper and Frere Laurent Romeo et Juliette at Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Zaccaria at Bayerische Staastoper, Ramfis at Arena di Verona and Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Banco at Washington National Opera and Fiesco in San Francisco. He also sung the role of King Philip Don Carlo at the New National Theatre of Tokyo, Sarastro Die Zauberflöte at Opera Colorado in Denver, Pimen Boris Godunov at San Diego and San Francisco Operas and Gremin Eugene Onegin at the Tanglewood Festival and Chicago Lyric Opera. On the concert platform he performed Verdi’s Requiem
with Orquestra Nacional de España, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, San Francisco and Chicago Symphony Orchestras.
In 2010 he debuted to great acclaim the roles of Wotan and Der Wanderer in the Los Angeles Opera new production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, conducted by James Conlon and staged by Achim Freyer. The success of his performance led to an invitation from Daniel Barenboim to reprise the role in the season opening production of Die Walküre at La Scala in 2011.
Last season Vitalij Kowaljow debuted to great success the role of Don Alfonso in Lucrezia Borgia for San Francisco Opera: "The real star of the evening was bass-baritone Vitalij Kowaljow, who gave a thrillingly robust and commanding account of the all-too-brief role of Duke Alfonso, Lucrezia's jealous husband. When Kowaljow made his first appearance at the beginning of Act 2, it was as if the entire performance moved into three dimensions." (Joshua Kosman, SF Chronicle). Other highlights were Frere Laurent Romeo et Juliette and Fiesco Simon Boccanegra for Los Angeles Opera, Walter Luisa Miller at La Scala and concerts of Shostakovitch „Song of the Forest“with Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
Engagements in the 12/13 season include Padre Guardiano in a new production of La Forza del Destino for Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, Zaccaria Nabucco at La Scala and Royal Opera House (also new productions), Fiesco Simon Boccanegra at Bayerische Staatsoper and Konzerthaus Vienna and performances of Verdi’s Requiem in Napoli. At Arena di Verona he will sing Zaccaria and Ramfis. Another very important highlight is King Rene in the European tour of Tchaikovsky`s Iolanta with Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala, which will be presented in Slovenia, Germany, Netherlands, France and Austria.
Vitalij Kowaljow’s recordings include La Bohème (Deutsche Grammphon 2008), Leoncavallo`s I Medici (Deutsche Grammophon 2010) and Don Giovanni (Deutsche Grammophon 2012). He also stars as Colline in a feature film release of Puccini’s La bohème, directed by Oscar- and Emmy- nominated director Robert Dornhelm.